Arts & Entertainment

A coffee enthusiast’s guide to awesome local espresso

Tacoma Washington is home to some of the best coffee in America. Because Starbucks was founded just a few miles away in Seattle, Tacoma has attracted a plethora of unique local coffee shops, each with their own character, specialty drink and atmosphere. Pierce County is also home to several different colleges including University of Puget Sound and University of Washington Tacoma, therefore there’s lots of students who want to find the best study spot our town can offer. So here’s a list of just a few of Tacoma’s best coffee shops to stop by on the way to class or lose an afternoon studying at.


This little coffee house is nestled right in the middle of the University of Washington Tacoma campus and embodies Pierce County in many ways. Flyers and art are posted around the shop featuring environmentalist urgings, university happenings, local artists, and community members.

Metro Coffee is a prime place to study; however, if you’re planning on buckling down and studying the afternoon away, be forewarned you may get a tad familiar with your neighbor due to the limited indoor seating.

While this Tacoma treasure doesn’t serve my favorite daily caffeine infusion, a delicious raspberry Red Bull, I made my peace with their drink selections after trying one of Metro’s Lattes. Their espresso is perfectly timed and pulled making an impeccable espresso shot.

My Favorite: Raspberry latte with coconut milk.


    A drive through that sells good local coffee — honestly what more could you ask for. Espresso Yourself, located in the middle of Fircrest, is staffed by local coffee talent.

In the summer, Espresso Yourself has a patio perfect for wasting an afternoon with old friends sipping iced Americanos. While you might have to wait till mid-July to see the sun in the Pacific Northwest, you don’t have to wait till summer to enjoy this local home away from home. Espresso Yourself has a cozy feel inside as well, featuring retro coffee memorabilia and a small shopping section where you can browse through jewelry and scarves while you wait for your coffee or sandwich.

While I would love to keep this prime study spot for myself, it’s truly too perfect not to share. It is a fair drive from the UW Tacoma campus, but the separation from school has a way of refocusing even the most futile of studying attempts.

My Favorite: Sugar free raspberry Red Bull.


     Anthem has a cool laid back “you do you” kind of vibe. While Anthem is technically part of a chain, you couldn’t tell by just walking in because it isn’t overly commercialized or franchised. The Tacoma location preserves its own unique identity outside of the other Anthem coffee shops.

This is the type of place you could get inspired — with massive windows and students buzzing about, it’s easy to tune out life’s problems and key into whatever you’re doing at the moment. While it isn’t necessarily a cozy or secluded place, if you’re looking for a louder study spot right smack dab in the middle of other academics, Anthem is your place. This environment makes a perfect blend of local artisan and Starbucks atmosphere.

My Favorite: Vanilla mocha with half the chocolate.


    This illusive coffee house is a great spot for a quick cup of coffee before heading downtown to school or work. Pacific Coffee House is on the ground floor of an office building filled with bustling business people and work meetings, which gives it a bit of a “get in, get out” vibe. But the vibe is more of a hectic and busy feeling rather than an unwelcoming feeling.

When visiting Pacific Coffee, it is obvious from the second you step foot in the door that it is not what we would call a “college hangout”. Be prepared to feel slightly underdressed but completely welcomed by the cheery staff.

Their grilled cheese with pesto alone would keep me coming back, but add a steaming cup of cocoa or coffee and it’s hard to stay away. Pacific Coffee’s great food and happy staff are enough to put anyone at ease during even the most frantic day of school or work.

My Favorite: Grilled cheese with pesto and a mocha with an extra shot.


    Quite possibly the most known coffee shop on my list, Valhalla has quickly gained traction in Pierce County as Washingtonian approved coffee. It is quite an accomplishment for them to stand out so much when Tacoma has so many coffee gems to offer.

Valhalla is a super simple, no nonsense coffee house just a few blocks from Proctor District on Sixth Avenue. They have a super friendly staff that will answer all your coffee wonderings with a smile.

Valhalla even roasts their own beans and has a drink for almost everyone. It is likely the most authentic coffee shop in Western Washington.

My Favorite: Get anything, you’ll be impressed.