Ballard Coffee House, Cafe Bambino

June 10, 2010 in Ballard


A little coffee house in Ballard full of typical Seattle neighborhood atmosphere


You would find very few to argue that great small neighborhood coffee houses are probably one of the defining characteristics of Seattle.  As a resident, it’s hard not to have a favorite or two, and others you visit when occasion permits.  I remember over 20 years ago when I visited this city, from Japan where I was living and teaching, we were astounded that every supermarket parking lot seemed to contain an espresso stand.  Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, I had a healthy respect for Italian coffee, but I was not used to it’s being the pervasive element of the landscape it was here.  And it was not till I had lived here for a couple of years that the Seattle-inspired adjective “to caffeinate” became a regular part of my vocabulary.  I have always liked quirky wit and found it bountifully here, perhaps second only to the choices of coffee.  As most everyone knows by now, Starbucks started here, Tully’s started here, and Seattle’s Best Coffee started here.  More on this later, but the atmosphere and gentle welcome of the little neighborhood coffee houses continues to be one of my found treasures on the daily expedition into the city to find beautiful homes, neighborhoods, and treasures of life.  When people talk about Seattle being “walkable” the nearest coffee house is high on their list.

counter and pastries all one could hope for


Cafe Bambino is even smaller than many.  Located on NW 65th St in southeast Ballard, it is tiny but popular.  There are not tables per se, but a counter up against the front window accommodates those who need a respite from their day.  Nearby are Olsen Violins (a shop with a great reputation) and an antique shop next to that, several bars, and some small businesses.  Quite a few artists have studio space near here too.  In fact the owner of Cafe Bambino,  Andhi Spath, is the creator of the Cafe’s landmark Bambino, a baby Buddha which sits atop the cafe with a cappuccino balanced atop his head.  Inside taped to the pastry display case are real world bambinos connected to the cafe family.  Don’t miss this very worthwhile stop … when you want to ‘caffinate’!



small but worthwhile neighborhood landmark