I've realized recently that the more coffee I encounter, the less qualified I feel to talk about it. The realms of "espresso taste" and "coffee


Caffè Fiore, Meet the Thesaurus.

I've realized recently that the more coffee I encounter, the less qualified I feel to talk about it. The realms of "espresso taste" and "coffee shop atmosphere" never seem to stop expanding, creating an increasingly frustrating challenge for my limited vocabulary. Therefore, I have determined to learn more coffee tasting lingo. Which means that you, friend, get to suffer alongside while I employ new words with about a 50/50 likelihood of correct usage.

Today's word: Alkaline, describing a "dry" sensation on the tongue.

Attempt at using newly acquired knowledge in context: This Americano from Caffè Fiore has notes of chocolate and berry in the nose, a pleasant, medium body, and lingering hints of orange, with a surprisingly alkaline finish.

Translation: this coffee's pretty good, but makes my tongue feel funny?

This time of year is the time of year when Caffè Fiore in Old Town Ballard is at its best. Youngest of the Fiore locations, it is very likely housed in the eldest of the three buildings, which means that the warm color scheme of Fiore's normal decor has nestled its way into an old brick building with a wrought iron fence around the patio, and windows that the light just barely angles through. It feels like fall. Year around, it feels like fall. So in the fall, it feels just right.

Fiore boasts being the first organic coffee house in Seattle, which just goes to show how much can happen in a relatively short time. It was funny to me to realize that in 2002, when the first Caffè Fiore location opened, serving organic coffee was pretty unique. Eight years later, in 2010, I think it's safe to say that the majority of independent coffee shops around Seattle are "striving to use organic products whenever possible." And the trend is one we're now seeing followed by larger coffee corporations as well, as they realize there is a need to catch up in this particular niche or lose sales with a lot of Really Organic Seattleites.

In addition to being organic just like everybody else is now, however, Fiore in Ballard maintains distinctive appeal by being community oriented (all tables are community tables), and: really, really hip. In fact, truth be told, I am here today because I did feel like wearing plaid and I did not feel like brushing my hair. Aside from the fact that I have no artistic forearm tattoos or small children in my company, I seem to be fitting in just fine.

As an espresso drinker, I will recommend Fiore's straight espresso in favor of their Americano, since the water tends to rob this particular coffee of a bit of its interest. As a social coffee drinker, I will point you to the true highlight of the menu: the Cafe Seville. Fiore's Old Town Ballard location was the first place I was ever served orange peel in my coffee. I found it confusing. But then, I realized it was amazing. Now I order it a lot.

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