We moved from Brooklyn, NY, to Bellingham, WA, about six months ago. When we first arrived we worked and wrote largely from home, because our new apartment has an office, and is much nicer than the bug infested one bedroom we had in Brooklyn. However after a month we started venturing out to the local coffee shops and giving them a try. This is not a full account of all the coffee shops, just the ones we have been patronizing recently. A few notes on the coffee culture here. It is really hard to get a properly made cappuccino here but the drip coffee is generally excellent. The other thing is that I have overheard more religious conversations in coffee shops here, than I ever have in church.
The Black Drop Coffee House
300 West Champion Street
The Black Drop is one of the few work friendly independent coffee shops in Downtown Bellingham. I really enjoy supporting independent coffee shops. The drip coffee at the Black Drop is excellent. They use great beans and the coffee is never too bitter, instead it is nutty. You can pay a little bit more for endless refills which is a little dangerous. The specialty drinks I have tried are decent but not exceptional. I have never tried the food. A lot of people spend time working and studying here, others come here to talk, so there is usually a fair mix of quiet and conversation. There are plenty of plugs for those who are there with a laptop for the afternoon. They do not regularly play music. It has plenty of light near the front of the room as well as some outdoor seating. The wi-fi is reliable and fairly fast. My main complaint about the Black Drop is how dirty it is. There is dust everywhere, and strange marks, and mysterious stains everywhere. Sometimes just being in there makes me feel dirty. You never want to look to closely at anything. I also think that most of the employees are not very friendly, which is not something that you necessarily expect at an independent coffee shop with plenty of regular patrons.
10 Prospect Street
This is a great location of Woods, which is a local chain. The building’s interior has been refinished wonderfully. There is a tin ceiling, excellent light, and lots of charm. It is still part of a chain though, so it has the same chairs and tables that are at all Woods locations, although this one has a lot less fake rock work. Thankfully much of the seating is comfortable. As far as work spaces go, I find the space, the light, and the cleanliness all very conducive to being productive. My major complaint with this Woods location (and all Woods locations) is the lack of decent drip coffee. I have tried it many times and it is always awful. It is bitter, and tastes worse than instant (in my opinion). I now only order lattes or cappuccinos at Woods, neither is very good, but they are much better than the drip coffee. However the cold brew is surprisingly delicious. The pastries are fine, but unremarkable. The Wi-Fi requires a code but works well. The music is another thing that can sometimes convince us to stay away, until recently it was all outdated pop/Christian rock, but in the last month the music has noticeably improved and the selection now includes jazz and folk.
Woods (Boulevard Park)
470 Bay View Rd
This Woods location also serves the same terrible coffee, however that fact is easy to ignore because this is one of the best locations in town. During the summer, my husband and I go to Boulevard Park almost every day to read. The park itself is right on the water. It connects to downtown by a path and to Fairhaven by a boardwalk. The Woods is in the park, right near the water and it has a nice deck with an indoor outdoor fireplace that helps extend the season a bit. The inside is very comfortable, with a large main floor and a small loft above. There are a number of comfortable chairs. Unfortunately the view of the water is blocked for most of the indoor seats by various things, the fireplace, the borders of windows, etc. However I love sitting by the fireplace for the heat and the stuffed chairs, or by the side door for the one clear view of the bay. The people who work here are pretty friendly, which is nice. The Wi-Fi requires a code, but it works well. However the location does not have its own washroom, instead it is right next to one of the park’s washrooms, which are truly terrible.
1001 Dupont St
The Lettered Streets Coffeehouse is located in a nice neighborhood within walking distance of downtown Bellingham. It is an old building, it has plenty of light and charm. They often feature the work of local artists, which is always nice. They have a number of tables, and a fair amount of space. The first room you enter has a few seats but it is mainly devoted to the counter, where you order your coffee. The coffee is delicious. The drip is very flavorful and the espresso drinks are well made. The only disappointing drink I have ever had here was the chai, which tasted too ‘gritty’. I have never eaten anything here, which makes me unqualified to comment on the quality of their food. The restroom is kind of odd, and you have to exit the coffeehouse to get to it, but is always clean. The music here is consistently good, even if they do rely on Pandora. They have reliable Wi-Fi. I think it is my favorite place to write in town.
Book Fare Cafe
1210 11th St
Located in Fairhaven, on the top floor of Village Books, this cafe has a great view of the bay and wonderful light. It is a great location. The coffee itself is unremarkable. I do really like how you can get tea for two, and share a pot of it there, instead of having to get separate mugs and tea bags. I have never had the food although some of it looks very good and they have an extensive lunch menu. They often get a little crowded around lunchtime. Their seating is not the best, and the cafe itself leans more towards a restaurant, in terms of atmosphere, there is a napkin dispenser on every table.