Rare treat(s)

carosello.jpgWhile up around 35th/Holden on Gas Price Watch (for the 1st time in 3 mornings, no increase), we stopped at Carosello for our morning coffee, first time in a while. We were more than pleasantly surprised by some improvements there: They’re serving some local brands you don’t see many other places: coffee from Caffe Umbria, organic treats from Boulangerie Nantaise and Mighty O Donuts. (If you’re a public-service worker, drop by on Thursdays in uniform and drinks are 2-for-1.)

21 Replies to "Rare treat(s)"

  • Sage April 25, 2007 (2:36 pm)

    This place is just up the street from me, and I was also excited to see the changes when Carosello took over from Casablanca coffee. Their choice of coffees and all is wonderful and very promising.
    Unfortunately, they seem to have a lot of turnover (or at least a lot of very part-time employees) and training on espresso-making is not what it oughtta be. Coffee is sometimes weak, sometimes bitter, rarely rises to the level that Caffe Umbria beans are capable of. A major disappointment so far.

    Oddly, I’ve found that the Thriftway makes one of the best & most consistent cups of coffee around. No joke!

  • Espresso Geek April 25, 2007 (3:38 pm)

    Sage: I agree. Was very excited to see cosmetic improvements and local beans. But the quality of shots pulled is consistently ummm…inconsistent. Or crappy, take your pick. I’ve had several luke-warm lattes there. The last one made me want to never return. So that, coupled with the cheesy entrepreneur books (what?), Koze furniture store mugs for sale (huh?), and the mission statement on the front: “Where your experience is all that matters” (WTF?) makes me avoid the place. It’s a cup of espresso and steamed milk. It’s not rocket science but it does take someone who knows what the hell they’re doing. This is Seattle. Make good coffee or your biz shall perish. Nix the “experience” lip service and get thee to barista training school. And don’t ask how my day is “so far” at 6:15 am. I will say the people behind the counter are at least friendly. Whew.

  • Espresso Geek April 25, 2007 (3:42 pm)

    BTW, Thriftway uses Vita beans. Aside from fresh roasted Espresso Vivace beans, the store bought Vita espresso beans provide some of the best crema-laden heavenly shots I’ve seen come from my Rancilio Silvia (using Rocky grinder set at 8).

  • Espresso Geek April 25, 2007 (3:44 pm)

    That was supposed to say “set at 8”. Not “8)”. :D

  • Administrator April 25, 2007 (3:53 pm)

    Guess it’s YLMV (your latte may vary). We have had almost-daily espresso for more than a decade at just about every place (past and present) in WS, and many beyond, and what we had today at Carosello (compared to previous visits and even previous incarnations at that location such as Casablanca) was quite excellent. Perhaps a fluke. Otherwise, Uptown is the tastiest we’ve had recently; Easy Street is an outside contender when we drop by for sit-down breakfast or lunch. And we had a decent recent latte at Cupcake Royale/Verite after several disappointments over the span of several months.

  • Venkat April 25, 2007 (4:07 pm)

    I like Carosello but I find it’s tough to break the Ladro habit.

  • Luckie April 25, 2007 (4:19 pm)

    Speaking of doughnuts: is there anyplace to get Top Pots in West Seattle? Hotwire used to serve them, but they stopped. That was a miserable day.

  • Jiggers April 25, 2007 (4:38 pm)

    how are the donuts their?

  • add April 25, 2007 (5:03 pm)

    I thought Starbucks carried Top Pots? Maybe not all of them?

  • neo-realist April 25, 2007 (8:45 pm)

    3 to 1 we have $4 gas by the end of the summer.

  • dotty April 25, 2007 (10:30 pm)

    Bird on a Wire has consistently lovely coffee, baristas and occassionally mighty o donuts. It is much better than going to the grocery store for a cup.

  • Sage April 26, 2007 (7:34 am)

    I’m a fan of Bird on a Wire too, though I do wish they’d have more places to sit. (Not that the environment at the Thriftway is any good, don’t get me wrong, but I do expect more from a coffee shop than from a grocery store, which is why I find the Thriftway so pleasantly delightful.) C & P seems nice also, though I haven’t been there much, and Ladro does make a good cup in my experience. I *want* to like Carosello, I really do — it’s in easy walking distance for me, it’s at the bus stop, firefighters hang out there — but god the coffee experience is not good. The coffee is actually bordering on foul a decent percentage of the time. Espresso Geek: I had forgotten about the weird entrepreneurial self-help books they sell–I don’t get it either. They also don’t seem to have a good explanation of what quite it means to then that they’re a “sustainable business” — though maybe that’s why they don’t have power outlets for laptops??

  • Betsy April 26, 2007 (8:04 am)

    I live down the street from Carosello and wish it was a great place but it’s not. Unfriendly barista who just want to get your order out of the way so they can go back to chatting with friends coupled with uncomfortable seating makes this a no-go for me.

  • Vente Caf April 26, 2007 (8:55 am)

    Wow, I had a pretty good experience when I visited. But I’ve only been once…

  • flipjack April 26, 2007 (10:03 am)

    Yeah, I think that the place kinda takes for granted that people waiting for the bus or driving by for a quick cup are there for convenience. Doesn’t seem like they are trying very hard to attract people who may want to go out of their way for good atmosphere and community. It is a HUGE improvement over Casablanca though.
    As far as atmosphere and community go, C&P Coffee Company is by far The Best in the West. Underneath the sometimes cold exterior of the people on laptops is a really great community of people who support the arts in terms of both music and pretty pictures. I’d urge ya’ll to go there if you haven’t been. The owners are great people who do it for the love of it.

  • Michele April 26, 2007 (10:55 am)

    I have to weigh in on this conversation, because I was really excited when Casablanca coffee left, as having a great coffee shop in my neighborhood was something I longed for. Very, very disappointed in “carosello” – bad coffee, bad atmosphere, and – as others have pointed out too – totally weird books and decorations. I only hope they go out of business and that someone else, with some taste and care for the coffee shop experience, makes another try. Its totally bewildering that such a coffee shop can exist in Seattle.

  • Coffee Geek April 26, 2007 (11:28 am)

    Bakery Nouveau makes a very decent latte or cappa. Which is cool, because they don’t really don’t have to. The goods there are enough of a draw. I’ll definitely try C&P soon based on your recommendo. I’m also curious about that place on Cal. Ave (near Amante?) where she hand pulls the shots…

  • Lou April 26, 2007 (12:49 pm)

    I live right down the street from Carosello and have visited it off and on since it opened. In the beginning they had a consistent staff (ie, you saw the same baristas everyday). But then they did this thing where they opened at 5am and I believe they really stretched out their employees. Plus, each time I was there, the barista was being called by a manager and asked to work extra hours (it was strange, but I did hear that converstation over and over). I noticed they now open at 6am…good choice until they have enough people to cover shifts.

    I do think the self-help books are odd. As for the coffee, I usually get lattes…they are not as hot as I would like (I guess I can ask for them extra-hot) but I otherwise haven’t had a bad cup, although I haven’t ordered drip there either.

    As for the atmosphere, I don’t have a problem with it. There is almost always someone sitting at the counter chatting it up. I know they tried to have some live music there recently (I didn’t attend). They have definitely worked on making the seating friendlier (although the bench seats they built are not that comfortable).

    Can they keep improving it? Sure, but I don’t think they are horrible by any means. I’ll continue to try them out – hopefully it improves.

  • wsb April 26, 2007 (1:36 pm)

    caveat re: C&P, they allow dogs inside. for some folks that’s great happy joyful news. for some, it’s not. one last word on the Carosello decorations, we thought it was kind of cool to display books (not for sale, just for show) by the Dalai Lama and Norman Vincent Peale, but clearly that’s just us!

  • Melissa April 26, 2007 (6:26 pm)

    I was just working at C&P this afternoon, having a pot of tea. Such a lovely place. Great space, beautiful local art shows, sweet owners and very, very good coffee. Then again, I love dogs…..

  • The House April 26, 2007 (9:48 pm)

    If you haven’t gone to Coffee To A Tea, then try it (great peeps and lots of room to spread out). Best drink in West Seattle is at Easy Street…try their “MudHoney” and you’ll never drink anything else again!

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