Ghost Alley Espresso | Is It Seattle’s Best Coffee?

Review by: Michael Stern

Truly Hidden Gem

It would be presumptuous to say that one espresso shop is Seattle’s best. But I have no problem saying which one is my favorite. You’ll find it down the ramp at the main entrance to the Pike Place Market (below where they throw the fish and not far from the notorious gum wall). Tucked into a corner space the size of a walk-in closet, Ghost Alley Espresso serves drop-dead delicious brew.

Formidable Espresso

Cocoa-dark, thick, and powerful, this espresso doesn’t ever cross into bitterness. (Beans come from Seattle’s Middle Fork Roasters.) It is magnificent all by itself. But it has enough deep-seated character to stand out even in lattes and such. In fact, the menu offers some unique espresso drinks. How about a Smog, which is Earl Gray Tea, espresso, and vanilla latte? Sweet Lydia blends in chamomile tea and white chocolate mocha. A Turmeric Mocha includes dark chocolate.

Service With a Skull

Even prior to pandemic restrictions, much business was take-out (by necessity, since indoor seating was all of three stools against a little shelf by the window). It indeed was a pleasure to drink espresso here. They presented it in a little glass cup with a handle. The cup sat upon a small serving board alongside a small glass shaped like a skull. The glass held seltzer water – a welcome palate-cleanser between sips of espresso so intense that it resounds on the tongue long after it’s been swallowed. Let’s hope that things return to something like normal, so the skull cups can return!

Ghost Alley is such a charming place, truly one of a kind. The first time I came by, Halloween was just a few weeks off. All of Pike Place Market was crowded with images of goblins and ghosts. At Ghost Alley espresso, eerie spirits are not seasonal. They’re a year-around presence.

Espresso, espresso drinks, coffee, and tea are the only things on the menu. Currently, all business is take-out.

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