Don’t spro me, bro.
That ridiculous sentence kept going through our heads when we visited Trabant Coffee & Chai near Pioneer Square. (Their other, mothership location is in the University District.) From afar, Trabant seems like they are trying to do some interesting things. They were voted Best Coffee in Seattle on CitySearch.com in 2005, 2007, and 2008. But they also seem to suffer from a bit of over-earnest “we gots da phattest spro in da hood” posturing that blurs the lines between cute and stupid.
This space — opened in 2007 — is for coffee nerds, no question. It’s part vacant art space, part café, and part retail coffee lab. They have a few cheap sidewalk chairs out front along 2nd Ave. But inside it is a sparse, stark space with a tall ceiling and a lot of echoes. The tables and benches are excessively wobbly.
Contrast this bare-bones ambiance with the coffee investments on display, and it comes off a little like dope house for coffee addicts. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the staff here are regularly sampling and experimenting with the goods — always a positive sign. They were testing out a new Brazilian roast in their Clover machine when we visited. They also use Anfim grinders, 49th Parallel Coffee, and a three-group Synesso for espresso. They are pretty much pedigreed.
They pull shots with a mottled medium and darker brown crema in white Nuova Point cups. It has good brightness without being a sour brightness bomb, and it carries a potent herbal to tobacco flavor. Maybe not the best espresso in Seattle, and it’s definitely not the best environment to drink it in. But we didn’t find much of the annoying spro-titude here that we originally feared. And it’s definitely a good place to test and sample coffee from a great Canadian roaster on this side of the Maple Curtain.
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