It can sometimes seem like a game of Risk up on Capitol Hill, with the coffee houses and roasters battling it out for who knows what. Kinda like trying to dominate Asia, everyone knows you win at Risk by controlling South America. Duh.
There are plenty of smaller, less combative roasters and cafes, out of the fray and worth your attention. They will never rule the world, and smartly so. Case in point, Stickman Coffee in Fremont (3516 Fremont Place North). The owner, Dismas Smith, is the last North American Barista Champion (as in, before they switched to calling the award the US Barista champion in 2003) and partner (along with Tim McCormack) in one coffee roaster you need to know. The coffee is Borogove, and if you have not experienced the crema of this coffee, advance yourself to Fremont and soon. Points for the literary reference aside, their espresso is one of wonderful depth, walking the line between the the sweeter style espresso shot and that great slightly bitter hit of a more Italian style roast.
Set at the alley entrance to the right of Deluxe Junk, Stickman's space feels like it's still in transition. It's the opening foyer(?) to a space that has played back and forth to art and fashion interests for years. A brisk space for now, but with their courtyard patio and just off the street entrance, they are sure to be busy come summer. One minor detail to fix, I'd recommend a communal table or some more seating for the space. If Stickman had seats for butts, they'd have no problem putting butts in seats.