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Seattle Eater — Slate Coffee Bar: The Cheers of Seattle

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The Cheers of Seattle isn't your typical boozefest, where you leave with a buzz, beer breath, and a hangover the next day. It is a two-month old coffee bar in Ballard called Slate, located across the street from the now shuttered SAMBAR and Le Gourmand.

Family-owned by siblings Chelsey Walker-Watson and Keenan Walker, the two initially kicked-off their retail business less than a year ago by serving coffee out of a pimped-out Airstream. You can still get your caffeine fix on the trailer (parked in the Piecora parking lot 9 am to 3 pm Thurs-Sun), however, it's currently closed for renovation.

Their coffee bar subsequently debuted with brewer champion Brandon Paul Weaver and director of education Nik Virrey, both formerly of cult favorite Zoka, leading the barista charge. 

Side note: If film directors were looking to cast a modern day version of the 90s hit movie Singles set against the backdrop of the Seattle grunge movement, the crew at Slate would be shoe-ins. They are hip, talented, and have equal eye candy appeal as Matt Dillon and Bridget Fonda.

What to expect:

1. Pick a spot at one of the bar stools. A menu will be handed to you, although it's a wise choice to go the coffee omakase route (barista's choice). The crew will not lead you astray.

2. Block out at least an hour, not because it takes that long, but because you will likely be entranced by the hospitality and good juju that will resemble your last holiday at a European café. You won't want to leave.

3. Expect to sample coffee like a wine aficionado. Full-bodied, minerally, fruity, and bright are words that are used to describe the cup of joe blends at Slate. The Finca La Gloria blend has such strong hints of blueberries and chocolate that the smell fills the nostrils as Weaver hands over the drink.

4. Not only will the taste of the coffee blow your mind, presentation is a differentiator. Your espresso drink will come in interesting glassware, and you can definitely expect some mad latte art.

5. Come prepared for fun banter as it is the type of place where you naturally gravitate to conversation with your bar stool mate and the baristas. Numbers are exchanged, advice is shared, coffee knowledge is learned, and return visits are the norm (not to be confused with, "Norm!").

Unlike Cheers' primarily local draw, Slate recruits regulars from all over Seattle proper and the Eastside. The coffee bar even attracts visits from Aussies and Portlanders who embark on Seattle pilgrimages just to check out our city's coffee game.

What is not to be missed? The Finca La Gloria coffee blend and the lattes. For sustenance, Northwest Regional Brewers Cup Champion Weaver is spot on when he says the chocolate covered orange slices from the popular Fuji Bakery perfectly complement the coffee.

 

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Photos by S. Pratt

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