Emile Haddad—Seattle Coffee Critic


To Emile Haddad, Seattle coffee is just plain bland.

For student Emile Haddad, Seattle might be a great city for culture (theater is wonderful; the night life is exciting; seeing fishmongers fling their catches at Pike Place is always a thrill), but the most famous regional delicacy is extremely overrated!

What’s deal with American—or more specifically—Seattle coffee?

Seattle is home to innumerable famous coffee roasters; historically, Seattle has been the coffee culture epicenter for the U.S. west coast. Starbucks was born there—as we’ve all been reminded ad nauseam for the past several decades. But once you’ve tasted the supple, round, and heady flavors of Italy’s caffè, the watery brews found in your local coffee house will seem…well, watery.

So, where does one get real coffee? Well, Italy is an excellent place to start.

Italy has a rich history of coffee connoisseurship. For centuries, baristas have taken immense pride in producing the perfect grind; maintaining the perfect water temperature; steeping for the exact appropriate time. In fact—American-style espresso and cappuccino is generally viewed with complete disgust by Italian coffee aficionados. They view our coffee as swaying absurdly between unpalatably bitter (probably due to misuse of the espresso machine), and cloyingly, artificially sweet (toffee nut; pumpkin spice; and flan being the most hideous)

One of the gravest sins, however, is the appropriation of the term “barista” to indicate basically anyone working behind the counter at a nationally franchised coffee house. The Barista isn’t just someone who pours coffee—it’s a professional with decades of experience in the art and science of coffee-making. That is something you just can’t find in the U.S.

Not even in, according to Emile Haddad, Seattle.