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Today, I am sitting near the entrance of Trabant Coffee & Chai in the University District, tilting a cup of coffee back and forth to

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Tanzania, Brazil: Canadian Coffee in Seattle's U District.

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Today, I am sitting near the entrance of Trabant Coffee & Chai in the University District, tilting a cup of coffee back and forth to catch its colors in different shades of light while listening to a man outside the door hold forth (about something that doesn't make sense) to someone who isn't there. Heavy traffic shifts impatiently in one window view, while the other features the empty wall across a narrow alley. Indoors, the music is humming along softly, the coffee snobbery is flowing freely, and there are only a few empty chairs to be found either upstairs or down.

Exactly what I've been served is a bit of a mystery to me. There is a sample cup of coffee from Bolivia, I know that. But the espresso in hand has recently changed sources, and may be a blend from Tanzania and Peru - an interesting pairing, or may be from Brazil. (It's decaf. According to the barista, decaf blends are the same as other espresso. According to the roaster's website, decaf is different.) It has a heavy, reddish color, and an unfamiliar aftertaste which reminds me a little of those buckets of well-squished caramels randomly gracing checkout counters across the nation. It is almost fruity, almost sweet, almost rich, almost robust... but just not quite committed to being anything.

Trabant is a definite "Go To" for coffee education in this neighborhood. They are exceptionally proud of their coffee, and exceptionally eager to tell you all about it. They are also patient with the sharing of knowledge, and happy to entertain questions. They serve coffee from a roaster called 49th Parallel, and I was amused to be told by my barista that Trabant is one of the few companies in Seattle which goes to the trouble of importing it all the way from... Canada. (This, perhaps, is because so many companies in Seattle go to the trouble of roasting their own coffee. But never mind that.)

For the record: 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters in Vancouver, B.C., has one of the most usefully informative coffee-roaster websites I've seen in a while. Check out their "Coffee Essentials" if you've ever wondered what different varietals are, or how different processing methods impact your morning on this side of it all.

My feelings toward Trabant itself are ambivalent, influenced heavily by a sense of weariness with its location. It is too close to summer to be voluntarily spending time so close to school. They do have another store downtown, so I'll have to try again next time I'm by Pioneer Square and see if I feel any different about it. In the mean time, I find myself both impressed with their enthusiasm and un-enamored of their coffee.

Incidentally, speaking of school, the image at the beginning of this post results from the fact that I was forced to learn basic PowerPoint usage over the weekend. That's right: I really did manage to evade giving digital presentations for this long. But now, well into my mid-20's, I flatter myself that I may have finally acquired PowerPoint skills on par with those of your average 8-year-old. Therefore, I felt I should show them off. You may now pretend to be impressed.

 
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