Overheard at a convention on the island that included several off-islanders who were visiting for the first time.
Innocent off-islander; “Where’s the best coffee around here?”
Several minutes of discussion ensued. “This one over that one.” “Have you tried the new one?” “Well, my old favorite is over by…”
And then there was an interjection from an islander.
Pragmatic islander; “Are any of them bad?”
Overly helpful group; “Well, no.”
Pragmatic islander; “Good. Go find one, try it, and if you get the chance, try another, and another.”
And the crowd dispersed to quickly get their drinks because they’d already used most of the break time debating instead of ordering and drinking and enjoying.
Obviously there must be some coffee that isn’t exquisite. But every individual comes with their own set of taste buds, so ‘best’ is different for everyone and can only be found by experience. Besides, ‘really good’ may be good enough.
Whidbey Island sits near Seattle in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. Throughout Cascadia, the region that extends from south of Portland to north of Vancouver, BC, coffee has been a culinary exploration for decades. Starbucks started here, and they weren’t alone, merely the only one that went massively international. (There are only a few Starbucks on the island and they’re all in Oak Harbor.) Foodies move to Whidbey Island for access to fresh food. Coffee isn’t grown here, but it is certainly tended, studied, roasted, brewed, and enjoyed. Do a search of ‘whidbey island coffee shops’ and the dozen or so shops that show up on the map only hint at the variety to try. There’s a wealth here, and if one isn’t your best, there are enough options to keep you busy – especially because each shop has more than one to pick from and probably more than one barista, too.
The guess is that Cascadia and coffee go together because of the weather. Grey skies and drizzle are inspirational. Think they’re only dreary? Weather like that inspires some to stay indoors, maybe get some work done, maybe read a book, maybe write a book, maybe start a company that can spread across the world.) For those who have to work outside in weather like that, a hot cup of something is a personal heater that’s easy to carry around. And for those who play outside, like runners, bicyclists, sailors, hikers, skiers, etc., celebrate getting back indoors with a hot cup. It’s natural, even if it isn’t grown here.
Sure, there’s probably some coffee shop on Whidbey Island that may produce a bad brew – for your taste. Taste is subjective. But with so many good ones to pick from, finding a bad one might actually be an accomplishment, a discovery of a shop that will probably be very short lived. In the meantime, enjoy the fact that you might think there’s no bad coffee on the island, probably.