This past fall, Apple launched a "cupping" application for the iPhone. It comes as no great surprise, since the iPhone pretty well has an app for everything by now. This one allows coffee cupping notes to be neatly organized, ranked on a sliding scale (with any of that pesky math stuff done for you), and filed away or e-mailed to colleagues. Although it's not fancy, I hear it's a handy thing to have around if you're in the coffee business. But here is my thought on the matter: Since Apple is now dabbling about in the coffee world, and since technology is advancing and smart phones getting smarter by the day, why isn't anyone developing a pre-coffee mind-reading/coffee-ordering app? It remains one of the cruelest jokes in the caffeinated world that one must order coffee in order to get coffee, which means that in order to get coffee, one must make decisions which are nearly impossible to make before having coffee. Somebody needs to get on it and develop an app that will 1.) make coffee-ordering decisions for me, and 2.) make them in such a way that it can order exactly what I want, even though I am incapable of verbalizing anything beyond the classically monosyllabic, "Uh."
In the mean time, it seems imperative to choose morning first-coffee shops that specialize in patience. (Or, alternatively, to sharpie marker onto your own arm, "If found, give double espresso and wait five minutes.") Fortunately, on my least coherent morning of the past week, I found myself blearily standing at the counter of The Urban Coffee Lounge in Kirkland, before a blessedly understanding soul, while repeating some tragic variation of the phrase, "Uh. I don't. Hmm? Oh. Ummm." Eventually, I think I ordered a doppio, and a single americano. After which I revived enough to take a look around.Kirkland's Urban Coffee Lounge is all the way out in a neighborhood of Kirkland I honestly hadn't known existed until this week, called Juanita. Tucked out of view in a shopping center just off Juanita Bay, it takes a bit of effort to find, but if you're over on the east side, it is certainly worth the visit. The decor is tasteful and interesting, and quite nice right now, in its holiday finery. The seating arrangements are strategically managed to give spaces for individuals or groups to obtain a small measure of privacy (by coffee shop standards). Overall, the effect is successful in creating a woodsy, even cozy feel within its concrete space.
UCL serves pastries from multiple different providers, which gives them a wide variety of options, including gluten free and vegan fare (from Sunny Valley Wheat Free and Mighty O Doughnuts, respectively). Their coffee offerings come from Stumptown Coffee Roasters - Hairbender for the regular espresso, and currently the Colombia El Jordan for single origin espresso (an interesting phrase when you consider that this coffee actually comes from a co-op of several estates within one region).
I confess to not even thinking about finding out what other coffees were on the menu, and for two reasons: the first, as already mentioned, was sleepiness. The second, of far more interest to you, was the distraction of the Colombia El Jordan espresso. If you are an espresso fan and haven't tried this one yet, I recommend it. If for no other reason than its unexpected and complex nature, as it registers bright without a usual citrus, sweet without any chocolate or caramel, intense with fruit juices and yet somehow still more savory than anything else. Clearly: battling my vocabulary and coming out with the win. Which I dislike, and which therefore means I'll have to go back and try it again. But that is a pleasant challenge, so I don't mind.
In case you want to look it up on your GPS or preferred maps app, the Urban Coffee Lounge is located at 9744 NE 119th Way in Kirkland. It is open Monday 6-9, Tuesday-Saturday 6-10, and Sunday 7-9.