CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Dilettante

Stone Way Cafe / Affirmations in the Workplace

As the Covid-19 lockdown continues week after week, the coffee lovers among us are really starting to miss yet another aspect of daily life we took for granted. My Bay Area friend is fortunate enough to live in California, where there are some excellent coffee roasters who are offering takeaway service, so he occasionally writes to me about taking a break from his daily exercise with a freshly-prepared cappuccino and a freshly-baked pastry. Sadly in Sheffield the only way to get a decent espresso drink is to order some beans online, wait a few days or weeks for them to be delivered, and make the drink yourself. I do have some interesting beans in my immediate future that I will be writing about; but for now, fortunately, I still have two more coffee experiences from the pre-lockdown era to review. To get myself back in the spirit of travel and movement, let me just set the Wayback Machine to September 2019...

On the final afternoon of my three-day visit to Seattle with my Bay Area friend Mistah Rick, after failing by ten minutes to quickly visit the Center on Contemporary Art in Pioneer Square, we jumped on the Link light rail at the nearby station and rode it out to the airport to check in for our respective flights: Rick’s to San Francisco and mine to Long Beach where I was staying. As we still had at least a couple of hours before the first of our flights was due to leave, we had decided to have a beer somewhere. Unfortunately the only available bar had a very long queue to get in, and the other option, a new brewpub, wasn’t due to open for a few months. So we decided to settle on a hopefully decent coffee.

In the middle of the departure terminal I spotted Dilettante Mocha Cafe and was reminded of the Dilettante chocolate truffles I used to buy back when I lived in Seattle and was shopping and doing business around Pike Place Market. As I recall, their dark chocolate coffee truffles were absolute heaven on earth. But back then I remember the place as a typical chocolate shop, with deli displays full of their chocolate creations. They sold coffee drinks as well, but it was Seattle and everybody and their grandmother sold coffee drinks back then. In fact, you could buy a cappuccino or macchiato at most supermarkets, petrol stations, beauty parlours, dental surgeries, pretty much any establishment that had a front door. So as it happened I never bought a coffee from Dilettante.

This airport Dilettante Mocha Cafe, on the other hand, featured a large coffee menu displayed above a menu for deli items, sandwiches, and pastries, with a list of the chocolates available appearing secondary, perhaps as a suggestion of a sweet treat after your main meal. As it was conveniently located we decided to give it a try.

I ordered a double macchiato and Rick a cappuccino. Disappointingly our drinks were served in paper cups, but the woman behind the counter explained, very apologetically, that too many of their proper cups had been nicked by customers. After Rick selected a slice of very ripe banana bread to accompany his coffee and I bought an egg salad sandwich to eat before my flight, we took our drinks to a little table in the back corner of the cafe area. The coffee was strong and robust as I always crave, and just what I needed to flush all the beer we'd been tasting for the past three days out of my foggy head. I was very pleased that a macchiato served in a paper cup could be so satisfying.

Dilettante Chocolates started life in 1976 in Seattle’s Capitol Hill. It was opened by Dana Davenport, whose family had been in the candy-making business since 1898. While making chocolates in Capitol Hill Dana created his very special chocolate sauce which presumably was used to make caffe mochas. Today there are Dilettante Mocha cafes at SeaTac, downtown at Westlake Center and another near Pike Place Market, across Lake Union in Bellevue, and south of the airport in Kent.

After we finished our coffees we caught our respective flights home. My flight to Long Beach Airport was fairly standard, except for my talkative seatmate who insisted on keeping the conversation going for the entire flight. Sadly Rick’s flight was postponed several times, and after he finally arrived in San Francisco he experienced a number of delays and detours on the BART light rail system, arriving home in Oakland four hours after I arrived in Long Beach. Considering the flight to Long Beach is 30 minutes longer than the one to San Francisco that was quite a feat. Or else he may have just passed through one of those Pacific wormholes.

Speaking of wormholes brings to mind an extremely brief Facebook post about this Covid-19 time warp and resulting mass psychosis we are all experiencing:

Day 20 of my descent into madness. Spent most of the afternoon sanitizing bottles of sanitizer and disinfecting containers of disinfectants that were delivered today. And I'll probably not sleep, out of fear that I may have missed a spot. Don't forget to boil the mail!