No coffee tour of Seattle is complete without a visit to our last of the three V’s in town: David Schomer‘s famed Espresso Vivace. The subtitle for this location is “a sidewalk espresso bar,” which it most certainly is.

We normally have more than a few gripes about sidewalk coffee kiosks, but this one is different. Not only is it not just a cynical way to collect cash from customers who love “quaint” while you offer them no amenities in a low-rent space, but the product here is top-notch. And when it comes to actual seating, they do offer four metal tables with chairs along the front sidewalk (three with parasols).

The barista knows his customers. This is something quite common among the best shops in Seattle, but is much less frequent in cities like San Francisco. They turn up the Johnny Cash music and pull shots of fantastic espresso.

The Espresso Vivace Sidewalk Bar Seating in front of the Espresso Vivace Sidewalk Bar

They use a three-group Synesso machine to pull shots with a rich, speckled dark crema. It’s the infamous — dare we say unique — Vivace crema: an even darker brown crema of modest thickness that’s highly textured, even agitated, to where its surface looks like it is made of hundreds of miniature dimples. And if you don’t drink it fast enough, that crema will dissipate down to nothing. We can’t say we’ve ever encountered anything like it. While we can’t attribute the excellence of the shot to their crema, it does differentiate it.

They serve it as an extremely short ristretto. The shot has a full, rounded, potent flavor with an emphasis on herbal notes in a concentrated shot. There are also cloves and a real layer of sweetness. It also comes with a very robust aroma. Served in a saucerless logo Tognana cup — as explicitly advertised on their drink menu.

Brilliant, even if along some of the sketchier sections of Broadway Ave. And arguably the best retail espresso shot we’ve formally reviewed in the U.S., let alone Seattle.

Read the review of the Espresso Vivace Sidewalk Bar in Seattle.

Drink menu at the Espresso Vivace Sidewalk Bar The Espresso Vivace Sidewalk Bar espresso