Like all native Seattleites, I'm a bit picky about the coffee I drink. I'm more of a picky addict than a true connoisseur, but I have lots of opinions either way. Here are some places I enjoy.
- The big names you want to look for are Vivace and Trabant. Trabant remains my favorite espresso of all time, possibly because of the combo of deliciousness with college memories.
- Cafe Solstice is the classic college hangout near UW, with fantastic coffee from Lighthouse roasters.
- If you're at SeaTac and think you have to resign yourself to Starbucks, think again! Walk towards the C gates and you'll quickly find yourself a sign for Cafe Vita coffee, a great Seattle/Portland brand.
- If you prefer tea -- or think you just might enjoy some -- head to Remedy Teas to try one of 150 different varieties.
- Local 123 has the best coffee in Berkeley: they serve Four Barrel coffee, which is great on its own, but also, their baristas are very well trained.
- PiQ has a delicious cappucino and lots of space to get work done. It's my new Sunday workspot of late.
- Nefeli Cafe has the best coffee near Soda Hall. They serve illy, a mass-produced Italian brand that I'm happy with.
- Guerilla Cafe serves Blue Bottle coffee and has an excellent brunch menu.
- Elmwood Cafe has a phenomenal hot chocolate / mocha - watch them take an ice cream scoop of ganache and melt it in with the cream. With a little espresso it's to die for.
- A Cuppa Tea and Asha are my favorite spots for tea.
San Francisco/Other Bay Area
- Four Barrel is my fave in SF.
- People really like Blue Bottle, and I like them too, but decidedly less so than Four Barrel because the coffee isn't very bold -- it's a very gentle light roast. It loses much of its flavor when mixed with too much milk, so I'd recommend a machiatto or an espresso if you're headed there.
- There are a billion other places, all with varying levels of snobbery and delicious (Ritual comes to mind as high in both categories) but the above are critical for any visit to San Francisco. Oh, and I'm also really fond of Epicenter.
- If you're in the South Bay, check out Barefoot.
* Aussies, yes, it is a UK-Style flat white, sorry, and frankly I don't even know what you're talking about when you say yours are different. Americans: see here.
- Savino's is a very Italian place with nice coffee and fabulous pastries. They serve illy, that mass-produced Italian brand I drink back home in Berkeley too.
- Massaro's is good -- like Blue Bottle, I find it a bit mild and prefer their coffee in a macchiato or espresso rather than a milkier cappucino or somesuch. Their sandwiches are fantastic, and I mean Bay-Area fantastic, not just England fantastic.
- Hot Numbers is a cozy hangout and their coffee is good too, but I once again recommend going for the espresso/macchiatto here because of the mild/subtle coffee.
- Surprisingly -- and don't laugh at me -- the Costa's on Sydney Street (across from Sainsbury's) has a surpringly good flat white*. Every other Costa's I've been to has been pathetic, but from my experience at this shop, I'm wondering if that's a failure in barista training at most places, rather than the beans themselves.
- If you're headed to an Intel campus (why else would you be in Hillsboro?) fear not! The on-campus coffee in the JF complex is from Cafe Umbria, which is just dandy by my standards. Good job, Intel.
- Insomnia is also quite good, and has drive-through coffee -- oh, suburbia ♥.
I actually have no particular recommendations -- I didn't even spend a week there -- but to note that I didn't have a bad cup of coffee the whole time I was there. Every random cafe, even the corner cart in the conference center, had something good, often excellent, to drink. I have since learned that all Australians are far better coffee snobs than I am!