The three-o’clock slump hits. Your brain is on the skids and you’re running on fumes. This is the situation coffee was made for, and lucky you: You’re in the South Puget Sound! In addition to Tacoma just being listed in the top 10 most caffeinated cities in the country, you’re also in the middle of the Pacific Northwest, which means you have a number of options that most of the country would find absurd.
If you’re looking to get the most bean for your buck and aren’t into pristine white cups with green, circular logos, here’s where you need to go:
B-Sharp Coffee (706 Opera Alley Ct C, Tacoma)
Located in Tacoma’s picturesque (and historically dubious) Opera Alley, B Sharp embraces and embodies the “slow coffee” movement. Their single-source beans have a sustainability focus that you can enjoy while catching some live blues music. They brew Bluebeard Coffee, and coffee geeks will delight in the variety of brewing methods available (pourover, Chemex, Aeropress, etc.).
Bluebeard Coffee (2201 6th Ave., Tacoma)
Bluebeard is a Tacoma mainstay for coffee, and this location is both where they roast and brew. There’s plenty of seating in the warehouse-style building that’s complete with a garage door that keeps the place cool in the summer. Their specialty beverage is La Pistola Mexican Mocha, which has a spicy chocolate sauce reminiscent of mole.
Bob’s Java Jive (2102 S Tacoma Way, Tacoma)
Currently, it’s more bar than coffee shop, but the legacy is enough to make it worth a visit. If you’ve never had a cup of joe at a place that’s listed on the National Historic Register, now’s your chance! Aside from having been a fast-food drive thru, a speakeasy, a Polynesian-themed bar, a karaoke bar and a biker bar, Bob’s also served as a set for films such as "I Love You To Death” and "Say Anything.”
Cosmonaut Coffee (817 Division Ave., Tacoma)
When you walk into Cosmonaut, you feel like you discovered it. It’s a little hole-in-the-wall place with some of the most coffee-educated baristas around, and they’ll happily share that knowledge with you. They’re known for their hemp-milk macchiato, so try one while you enjoy the eclectic décor that skews heavily toward robots, aliens, comics and Soviet memorabilia.
Metro Coffee (1901 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma)
With bicycles adorning the walls, there’s no question that this little coffeehouse caters to the students of the UW-Tacoma campus on which it sits. The small seating area is great for quiet conversations and there’s a bench area for study groups.
Metronome Coffee (3518 6th Ave., Tacoma)
Proudly brewing Pacific Northwest-based Victrola Coffee Roasters’ Streamline Espresso Blend, this industrial-themed caffeine purveyor offers options upon options: Not only choices on how you want your coffee brewed, but also a topping bar to treat your completed beverage. If you’re overwhelmed by choice, the knowledgeable staff are there to guide you through it, since nobody should have to make such choices before their daily coffee.
Valhalla Coffee (3918 6th Ave., Tacoma)
Valhalla’s location on Sixth Avenue does double duty as both a roaster that sells their beans to local restaurants, as well as a no-frills coffee shop. Judging by the enthusiasm with which people dedicate themselves to the Valhalla brand, more and more shops will be slinging those beans.
Anthem Coffee (210 W Pioneer Ave., Puyallup)
If you’re planning on spending some time exploring downtown Puyallup’s antique scene, this is your stop for a pick-me-up. Anthem makes a mean cup of Dillano’s-roasted coffee and their tea selection is large and beautifully displayed. Their 16-ounce drinks come with a standard four shots of espresso, so be careful. It’s not enough to kill you, but it’s enough to change your perception of colors a little bit.
They also have a location in downtown Tacoma in the Museum District, so if you’re looking for some caffeine to propel you between museum stops, drop by.
Cutters Point Coffee Co. (5500 Olympic Dr., Gig Harbor)
Cutters is a roaster based in Gig Harbor that also operates several shops in the South Puget Sound, and when they say they focus on service, they mean it. Starbucks-style friendly, but actually knowledgeable about coffee and happy to chat about it.
Craft 19 (1201 Main St., Sumner)
Located smack-dab in the middle of picturesque downtown Sumner, is this gem of a coffee house that serves up Dillano’s, roasted just a few blocks away. This ultra-modern, ultra-chic coffee spot is also a comfortable place to hang out for a couple hours, read a book and eat a crepe or three.
Urban Timber (6621 166th Ave. E., Sumner)
You have to love a coffee shop that pays as much attention to keeping its craft beer local as it does its coffee. The wide-open seating area lets you enjoy your drink of choice at a table right out in the open, or you can opt to grab some quiet time in an armchair in the back nook next to the fireplace.