From Bean to Brew at Caffe Ladro
How A Retailer Became a Seattle Favorite
Anyone looking for high-quality coffee in Seattle should make a beeline for Caffe Ladro. Through its determination to sell coffee made only from the best quality beans, it’s become a local darling with a strong online presence.
“Our foundation is our passion for coffee quality and service,” says Jack Kelly, CEO of Caffe Ladro. “We want to make sure we take care of those people at origin (the farmer), and we’re willing to pay a higher price.”
While Caffe Ladro started as a retailer, it’s become a thriving coffee chain with fifteen locations. Unlike most successful chains, however, each retains a sense of individuality. “We didn’t start off with the goal of having fifteen cafes,” says Kelly. “We just started evolving and opening another one and another one. Every time we opened a new café, it was in a new neighborhood, and it was a different time.” For example, when the first café opened in 1994, Seattle was deep in the grunge scene, and the café reflected that with things like plaid walls. Newer locations have a brighter, more modern decor, but he assures that the vibe and how they connect with people is still the same.
The question is, what makes good coffee? “The answer is everything because there’s so many different steps in coffee, which makes it so intriguing.” From where the bean is sourced to how it’s brewed, every step is vital to making Caffe Ladro’s coffee memorable. “We’re searching for the greatest coffees we can find. The coffees that we’re looking for have sweetness and acidity, which provides a sort of tart and citrus flavors to cut through the bitterness,” he explains.
When it comes to ordering, Kelly recommends going for an espresso or cappuccino. “We really try to shine on the small drinks,” he says. There are larger, sweeter drinks available, like lattes and mochas, but his personal favorite is the shakerato, which is espresso over ice with brown sugar shaken violently, which makes for a nice, foamy drink. However, since they take such pride in their coffee flavors, they don’t serve dark roast coffee. “We are not a dark roast company; we specialize in a lighter to medium roast, which has more nuance in the flavors,” he says. “If you go too dark, you’re masking the flavor.”
Non-coffee drinkers shouldn’t worry about being excluded. “We have some really great teas that are curated by a local tea specialist, B. Fuller’s,” he says. There’s also the Medici, which is one of their signature drinks. “If you’re not a big coffee drinker but love coffee ice cream and the smell of coffee, this is the drink for you.” Their bakery also makes excellent pastries and desserts like fresh cherry chip scones and twice-baked almond croissants.
Possibly the best part about Caffe Ladro is the fact that visitors can get their coffee even after they’ve left Seattle. Thanks to their online presence and resolution to serve only the best quality beans, if there was a brew that a visitor fell in love with, they can get it just about anywhere. Kelly says, “We ship coffee all over the place and have wholesalers all over the world.”
All this may seem like a lot for a cup of coffee, but Kelly feels it’s worth it. “When you have an amazing cup of coffee, there’s a story we want to tell. Every cup of coffee is a miracle.”
-By Ettractions Digital Content Editor, ALLISON BENNETT
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