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coffee.gif (4770 bytes)Where: Vivace, 901 East Denny, 532 Broadway Avenue E
Owner: David Schomer

Espresso Down to a Science

Vivace3.JPG (8007 bytes)The best cup of coffee in the land of a million coffees? The city Starbucks built? (or at least put on the map) That's simple: Vivace on Capitol Hill.

What makes Vivace special? "The philosophy of the company," cafe manager Mark Curinton says, "is that we always improve on what we're doing, which was already a good thing." Mark smiles with pride in his work.

A charming trait in the presentation of coffee at Vivace are theVivrosett.JPG (5908 bytes) designs the baristas make with the steamed milk on the tops of the drinks. Mr. Curinton notes that they originally called this a "B & B."  In a B & B, customers look down at their drink and see one side black coffee, the other side light. This evolved into drawing hearts floating on top of the coffee, and now, a design called a Rosetta.  How is this done? "It's in how you steam the milk and mix the coffee-- the right consistency." To become a barista at Vivace, one must master this technique.

The friendly staff at Vivace contributes to its quality. Everyone there seems to have an interesting tale to tell. Longtime employee, Stephanie Austin is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Robin Kurtz is an accomplished actress and dancer.

The cafe itself is one block away from Broadway with a gorgeous view of the reservoir. Another, smaller Vivace stands a few blocks up Broadway at East Harrison.

Vivace.jpg (60109 bytes)Vivace owner, David Schomer, a former Boeing Engineer, is meticulous about every detail in his cafe. He applies metrology-- the science of exact measurement-- to every step of making coffee, from roasting the beans to the temperature at which he steams milk.

Schomer left Boeing in 1988 to open the cafe. He traveled throughout northern Italy learning different styles and techniques. In Italy, he says, "The goal is to make the least offensive cup of coffee possible." His goal, however, is, "To make the coffee taste like the fresh aroma of it roasting."Vivace4.jpg (60967 bytes)

He opened his first cafe on Broadway that year. The B & B was popularized the following year. By 1992, the Rosetta design was a hallmark of his company, he was roasting beans himself, and, voila, the best cup of Joe in Seattle was born.

His coffee craftsmanship is so revered that Schomer has been invited to speak in Italy about precision in brewing. Baristas everywhere are welcome to learn from him, and his book and video series, Espresso Coffee: Professional Techniques are available as well. (Instructions for creating a Rosetta on your very own coffee creations are included in the videos.)

For many Seattlites, a good cup of coffee is more important than new stadiums and slow rush hour traffic. For true coffee enthusiasts, Vivace is a fantasy come true.

E. Eibel/Summer 99

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