A match made in Seattle!


Discover quality espresso in Seattle!
Find out what happens when Elizabeth Bennett and Scarlet O’Hara turn up at Little Oddfellows!


coffee and booksI could not believe coming across Little Oddfellows Cafe in Seattle; confidently nestled into Elliott Bay Book Co – what could be better than this for a bibliophile and coffee aficionado?

Spending an eternity at university studying art history and English literature, the highlights of the week weren’t the scintillating lectures or deep and meaningful 15th century images but the post-lecture gatherings at Auckland Art Gallery café.  There is nothing better than sitting down with like-mindeds’ and longed for espresso and treats.  If that is pas possible the next best is coffee and treats and very good reading matter; in this context there is no excuse for not having the latter!

Have you noticed that coffee and treats always taste better when you buy them?

Perhaps because an investment is made in the experience, the something-not-made-by-yourself quality and the ritual: it is just not the same at home good quality or not.

And perhaps one of the reasons for that is the fact that

…when you buy your coffee and treat from a favourite café you are also buying what the institution stands for, a salient point in Little Oddfellows case. 

The Derschang Group’s (the owners of both Oddfellows Café & Bar and Little Oddfellows Café) philosophy rings with loving-the-life and getting involved,

…passionate about community involvement and causes including equality, reproductive rights, literacy, and supporting independent arts.  

A sense of community is something that can’t be bought, it evolves around the values of the institution and anyone with an aesthetic bean in their body supports the promotion of culture in any form.  Thus, the fit between the bookstore and the café is ideal on all fronts.

Back to the present – I have a new book from Elliott Bay Book Co entitled The Verdun Affair, the latest Wallpaper and Urbis in hand; I am excited beyond belief!

What to have is the burning question because like every other time – I want everything!

art and coffeeAs I am contemplating and imagining I see pictures of some of my literary heroines on the wall:  Pride and Prejudice (a book to be read several times over) and I wonder what Elizabeth Bennett would have if she were here now.  The no-nonsense Elizabeth was refined but not stuffy unlike Mr Bingley’s sister Caroline.  She would have a long black, Crunchy Tahini Toast and a lemon poppy cookie.  Lizzie was not afraid of being both adventurous and a little robust.

Now on the train down memory lane, I remember Scarlet O’Hara – how could I not!  Scarlet was self-indulgent, pre-occupied and ruthless. She would have – let’s see? – a bloody-mary (if that were possible) while she decides accompanied by a short black.  She would want the Brioche French toast, mascarpone and maple syrup, but is prohibited by her dresses’ 14 inch waistlines; stamping her little foot, she ponders the cruelty of it!  Instead she decides on the Bowl of Fruit with honey, mint and nuts – Scarlet has the will power of ten individuals.  Well, not it has to be said, where Ashley Wilkes is concerned.

Always wanting to be both dressed in the latest fashion and the centre of attention, Scarlet, engrossed over what new dress to have made from the very first edition of Harper’s Bazaar (let’s not quibble about the actual date, sometime in the 1860’s) eats all the fruit and nuts and finds it exceptionally flavoursome and enticing.  Feeling particularly virtuous, she immediately orders another short black, and the lemon poppy cookie.  Scarlet realises after a sip and a nibble that the cookie and the short black are a match made in heaven!

Meanwhile, my goodies have arrived!

The creamiest and shiniest flat white I have seen for a long time, wobbling perfectly as it is put down.  I am desperate for a sip and it, thankfully, has the three markers of a great espresso; colour (deep caramel), flavour (the perfect grind) and the crema clings perfectly to the sides of the cup (fresh beans, freshly roasted and a committed barista).

Initially unable to decide on the treats, I stacked up; toasted baguette with butter and jam, molasses and ginger cookie and a large brownie!

I know   –  right!

Well, not a worry I rationalise, the heavy-duty sight-seeing will walk it off in no time!

The first flat white did not touch the sides!  So I order another one to wash down the cookie – it is all delectable.

Lost in thought as I, like Scarlet, sip and nibble my way through the Wallpaper, such a great publication, I pick up my delicious coffee only to find the second one is empty!

Truly – ? I stare at the bottom of the cup – helplessly willing it to fill up! I stare at the empty food plate. I move things, No nothing there – a crumb?  Although our circumstances are not exactly equivalent, I know how Scarlet feels – deprived once more: if only I had a little lace hanky to weep into.

I covet aromatic smells wafting past. Was that the Homemade biscuit, ham and eggs? Have I room for that?

Little Oddfellows has commendable values

We source food from predominantly local purveyors to produce simple, lovely food using as many sustainable, organic, humane and environmentally friendly ingredients as possible.

After the feast I sit, sated and content, I recall the beautiful coffee just imbibed and check another ten times to make sure the cup is actually empty.  I ponder the ritual and how it flowed just as it should with quality on every front.

The La Marzocco machine is a top end choice for dedicated purveyors of espresso.  The cafe’s philosophy syncd, it reflects good attitudes from start to finish.

Oddfellows is committed to environmentally sustainable practices in our daily operations.

This attitude is the icing on the cake and necessary moving into the 21st century.

The experience taken overall, I feel a sense of having arrived in the middle of something exciting.

This derives from the cafe’s quality attitude, but also from confidence and a realisation that I am enveloped in history and culture by dint of all the volumes on all those shelves.

The sense of history extends to inform the interior and architecture of the café: it is inherent in the details like the wallpaper, the historic marine-like lights, the timber batten ceiling and beams, and the exposed industrial fittings.

The interior, furnishings and fixtures at Oddfellows are 90% salvaged, recycled or repurposed. 

An admirable situation which not only imbues the café with great character but promotes sustainability, which is a vital cultural and environmental message to impart in the present day.

The above attributes contribute to a stimulating aesthetic (as does the semi-industrial vibe) in combination with being in a bookstore.  Relaxed, friendly and charming  –  it is annoying to have to leave.

But then I realise  I can come back tomorrow with the elephant; he can have the Homemade biscuit and eggs with bacon and the brownie and I can have the Brioche French toast and the Charlie Brown cookie.   This cunning plan will result in four choices instead of two!

Oh! That reminds me to look for a book on the Pankhurst sisters in Elliott Bay Book Co; they would have loved this place!

Image credits:

Kyler Martz and Dorothee Brand: Little Oddfellows banner (bnw)

Dorothee Brand: Elliott Bay Book Co and Little Oddfellows banner, La Marzocco, wallpaper and consumers and wallpaper

Becca Fuhrman: Little Oddfellows and bookstore, counter shots and famous writers shot

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