Thursday, January 17, 2013

Restaurant Review: Black Coffee (Seattle cafe)

The taxonomy of radical political identities being what it is (i.e. more complex than the US tax code but simpler than British aristocracy), I'm not sure whether I can fairly call Black Coffee an "anarchist" project. On the one hand, it's a "worker's coop" cum "infoshop," with "vegan grub" and social justice pamphlets. On the other hand, there's no body odor and the interior/aura/feng shui is classier than Angela Lansbury's character on Murder, She Wrote. When I asked one of the baristas, we got into a lucid discussion of the contradictions of an "anarchist" business and the locality of political identity. So for the sake of simplicity I'm going to make a ruling: let's just call it "radical."

On Cap Hill at the corner of Pine and Summit, just uphill from Bauhaus Coffee (map here), Black Coffee boasts wood floors fit for ballet, comfy leather (fleather?) chairs, a couch, and lots of pillows and board games. The lighting is comfortably dim while still bright enough to read by. There's a sweet balcony in which to hide with your comrades and plot the liberation of humanity. Maybe the best part of the atmosphere is the music: I enjoyed a cup of tea while listening to a Flaming Lips album I'd never heard before, and was amazed at what a relief it is to be in a cafe that doesn't have an endless infinite loop of Thelonius Monk, Yoshima Battles the Pink Robots, Christmas music, Beatles, or (I've actually heard this, and it was a rough as you'd expect) the Les Miserables movie soundtrack. Plus there're books--and not just the donated crap that cafes usually stock in a halfhearted effort to appear literary. You can peruse Camus, Dostoevsky, Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, Orson Scott Card, William S. Burroughs, Gunter Grass. And Harry Potter.

Black Coffee's beans are from Kuma Coffee, a small Seattle roaster who operates through direct-trade with local farmers around the world. So far as your correspondent can suss out, direct trade is sort of like Fair Trade, but with more transparency, less bureaucracy, and less affluent-liberal hypocrisy. I didn't get a chance to taste it myself, but Snob Coffery's reviews (here) of Kuma consist entirely of praise and dessert-analogies. You can read in the Seattle Times about Kuma's direct trade, here.

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