This past weekend I decided to take a short trip to the city of Seattle. It was my first visit, and I’m not entirely sure why it has taken me so long to come here. I should have done this earlier, because man what a fantastic city it is. Knowing that I wanted to leave early Saturday morning and stay the night, I did some searching for affordable accommodations. I don’t need much in the way of lodging, just that it be warm and clean. The reason why I travel is to see the city and find great things to do — not blow all my money on extravagant hotel rooms.

I immediately thought about finding a hostel to stay in. Having not travelled much in my life, and having no experience with hostels, I must admit I was a tad nervous about sharing sleeping quarters with complete strangers. I did some searching and found The Green Tortoise Hostel. The location seemed right, as it is right in the middle of a great neighbourhood in a busy part of downtown. The photos of the rooms looked good and the place appeared to be clean. Of course, sometimes pictures can be deceiving, and you never know if the business is representing themselves honestly.

I walked up to the door of 105 (1/2) Pike street on Saturday morning. It was approximately 11:30am when I showed up at the front desk. From the inside, the hostel looked much bigger than from the outside. The common area, which isn’t too far from the lobby, was bustling with people conversing about their travels. My initial impressions of the place were great. The Green Tortoise was clean and had nice hardwood floors. The common area was spacious with a large HD TV, and they supplied free Wi-Fi which was decently speedy. The staff at the front desk were extremely welcoming and friendly. They showed me to my room, which had eight bunk beds. Security was a bit of a concern for me, but they quashed all fears that I had when they showed me the locker underneath the bed. My sleep that night unfortunately was not nearly as good as I was hoping it would be. In addition to the in and out disturbances of people coming and going, the person across from me was crying and having some sort of emotional breakdown with someone on the phone. The hostel has strict rules about being courteous to other travelers. You’re supposed to be quiet when in your room. Like an idiot, I never said anything and figured I could manage to fall asleep anyways, since I’m a heavy sleeper. Many times during all hours of the night, I was woken up by this imbecile. The next morning he was apologizing to someone else in the room. He said his brain was permafried and he thought the man was someone else. I guess he must been on some heavy drugs.

With not much more than a day and a half in Seattle, I wanted to walk around the downtown core as much as possible, exploring various artisan coffee roasters and to just soak in as much of the city as possible. I avoided retail stores since there’s nothing I could buy there that I can’t get locally in Vancouver. Of course, I do love shopping, but why waste time doing that when I can experience fantastic hand crafted coffee. The two stand-out places I visited were Stumptown coffee roasters and Caffé Vita. Out of the two, Caffé Vita is my number one choice. Once I walked inside, I was greeted with a large, friendly, and warm environment. On the far side of the shop, you’ll find a large glass window. Peering through the window, you’ll be able to see people at work, roasting beans in giant barrels. These people take the art of coffee preparation extremely seriously, and it shows. I ordered one of their seasonal espressos, which ended up being exceedingly great. The espresso flavours had a slight juicy and nutty quality to it. Like most artisan coffee roasters, you can’t just sell coffee. You’ll find a decent selection of coffee paraphernalia and assorted accessories. I’ve made it a goal of mine recently to visit the best coffee roasters in North America, and come home with something to remember them buy. I purchased a few ceramic mugs from both places I visited.

I think for my next trip I’ll head to Portland, Oregon and spend several days visiting some top notch coffee roasters. Some of my favourite roasters like Heart are located there. I’m excited to experience these café and hopefully speak with some of the people there about their roasting process.