T Nation

Coffee and 'Cake


That’s what it’s about.



And some pointy tower like thing.

Of all the many nice things about Seattle, one of them would be the street corners. Obviously the city’s forefathers had the foresight to reserve every corner in town so that convenient establishments for the vending of either one of 2 commodities could occur:

  1. Beer (You may have heard of this stuff. I think it’s going to catch on. I really do.)


  1. Coffee

Now, the Beer I can understand but the proliferation of coffee shops has reached epic proportions and are more numerous than the snakes of St. Patrick’s legend little known fact…St. Patrick and the snakes are a myth similar to the professed innocence of Marion Berry, only much, much, MUCH more believable

There are also some very nice neighbourhoods in the Downtown Seattle area, these areas are easy to classify into neat little categories like:

  • “Quaint”


  • “What’s that smell?”

Aside from the olfactory evidence a good way to tell the difference in neighbourhoods is to count the number of raving lunatics laying on the sidewalk. The ones that are standing and/or moving don’t count as they tend to wander off and before you know it you are trying to count Hobos and you find yourself saying “Hey! where did that guy with no pants go?..no, not “that” one, the other one, you know, the one with teeth”. Truly. The most impressive ones are the ones sprawled out right in the middle of the side walk. Not just sitting on the curb or against a building but RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SIDEWALK!. These guys don’t go halfway. These guys are committed. You don’t see this kind of effort everyday, as a matter of fact many less achieving Hobos spend lots of time just leaning against stuff. Just LEANING!. Lazy really.

Anyway, after counting Hobos all day you start to wonder “what’s with all these Hobos?. It sure is lots of work counting them” and then it dawns on you.

Too much Coffee.

Remember Earl in shipping? Always had a cup of Joe in his hands? Sweated allot? Yeah, the guy that had that nervous twitch, you know, the “eye thing” yeah, him.

Well, this is where he ended up. Wandering around the World’s Coffee House Capital raving about God, Cheese and how “They’s gonna take care “o” bizness, brotha’, you just watch ole dog, you jess watch! Hey mista gimme your shoes!”.

I’m sure one of these guys was him. I recognized the twitch. I would have said “Hi” but he seemed angry. Actually most of the Hobos seemed “angry”, usually at themselves because when alone they would launch into loud self-berating dialogue yelled into a empty Coke can that they were pretending was a cell phone and that mostly sounded like this:

“Fuck you up. Yeah, I said Fuck you up”

“I don’t think so Motherfucker”

“I wish I had some Cheese”

“Me too”

“You’re holding out on me dog”

“Fuck you Bitch.”

“Please hold for Mr. Filbernuts”

and so on…

It is a good thing that most of them had a third personality inside who played the role of peace maker or there could have been trouble, although my associates thought the idea of a Homeless guy with no pants, no teeth, screaming into an empty Coke can and beating the crap out of himself was funny, I did not.

My discerning sense of humour was holding out for the addition of an Equestrian traffic cop and a legless midget but hey, I got high standards.

Sure I have my own Hobos in my city but I think that the years of dumpster diving into Starbuck’s coffee-ground-filled dumpsters have given the Seattle Hobo’s an edge over their Northern Neighbours, a quirkiness not usually seen north of the 49th. Kinda like the “exotica” of the Hobo nation. Maybe it’s the fact that you can’t pee on a street corner in Downtown Seattle without hitting a Coffee house (I know this because we saw many Hobo’s trying!) and the caffeine buzz is a palpable vibe that seems to effect people through osmosis but I’ll tell you, the entertainment value buck for buck can not be beat.

Of course, I could be wrong. This could be caused by having Fat, Moustachioed, yappy women sit next to you on your airplane flight but that’s another theory all together.

Leave room for cream please.

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”

~ T. S. Eliot

Caffeine-jacked bums are infinitely preferable to those reeking of rice wine, whom I encounter daily.

Will have to check out the hobos in some of Italy’s finest cities. They wouldn’t even touch some stale Starbucks I imagine.

Now THAT would be an interesting ethnography. Off to Firenze.

For those who don’t get it, I am kidding (mostly) and Seattle is a beautiful city that I would be proud to call home.

Now please stay out of my Garden and stop harassing my Chihuaha, she gets nervous and pees on the rug.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom”

~ Marcel Proust


What’s up with:

“less achieving Hobo…”

As opposed to the rich and successful hobos? :slight_smile:

BTW - I like coffee. Yes, the snooty kind. Don’t give me the cheap stuff. And make it strong.

Gotta love Coffe and 'Cake… :slight_smile:

I had the distinct pleasure of being in downtown Seattle (on jury duty, actually) on the day of the earthquake in 2001. Interesting to say the least. I think every homeless person in the county descended like locust around the couthouse that day. I was stuck there for quite some time, as the buslines had been opened up to every Tom, Dick and Harry (and thier cousins) to leave town on Metro’s dime. The unnerving part was that the busses in that part of town run underground (not too comfy considering we’d just had an earthquake). But I watched six buses go by that were beyond standing room only. In fact, no room at all. They came, stopped opened the doors, closed the doors, and continued on.

But back to the homeless people. There was this one crazy woman who started doing a strip-tease on the four lane road in front of the courthouse. Would have actually been entertaining if she’d been remotely attractive. Ant then there was the guy who was trying to lean up against a wall, but kept missing it (a WALL for cryin’ out loud).

Starbucks may be everywhere, but the “bomb” coffee in this town belongs to Torrefozioni. Coffee beans from Italy. Yeah, babeeeeee.

Starbucks may have purchased them (as well as Seattle’s Best Coffee), but the quality stuff is still as black and as rich as ever. Gawd I love this town.

Ah Cake, you brought back some wonderful memories just now… Like my first and only OC.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the household term “OG”. Some say it stands for “Original Gangsta” but the truth is it stands for Over Golded. Yes, that it does. It’s not the gangsta lifestyle that kills, it’s the gold - the over indulgence in gold to be precise - that kills. And one fine day during my last visit home, I OC’d. Over Caffinated. I’m damn lucky I survived…

It started out innocently enough with a double tall Hazelnut latte at the corner drive thru coffee shop. Nice… a tad burnt tasting but what can you expect from a Tuff Shed on wheels?

About 45 minutes later we arrive at the Seattle-Bremerton ferry terminal. The 18 hour drive from Denver to Seattle had left us a little road weary and for some reason, the previous double wasn’t kicking in just yet. So guess what I spy inside the ferry terminal? Yup, none other than your friendly neighborhood Starbucks. We had some time to kill and what goes better with a nice drizzly, overcast, Seattle-in-July sky than a nice, piping hot cup o’ Starbucks?

HEEELLLOOOO double short white mocha! Who’s yo mama?!

Now, I don’t know if it was the peaceful, lulling motion of the ferry, or if it was the comforting cloud cover reminiscent of that childhood blankie or if it was something slightly more sinister but I started feeling kinda groggy. By the end of the hour long ride, I was in desperate need of something to perk me up.

My brother met us on the dock and quickly took notice of my condition. Brilliant man that he is, he knew exactly what I needed. Three doors down from the dock was this quaint, hippie-esque basement coffee shop. No sooner had we arrived than he had me hooked up with a triple tall raspberry mocha with three extra squirts of flavoring. If the caffeine wasn’t going to get me, the sugar sure was hell was.

Nestling that elixir in my hands, I climbed into his car. The 9 minute drive to his house saw the bottom of the cup.

I hardly remember getting out of the car. I think there were stairs involved before we could reach the front door. And then… Blackness.

I slept. For 3 hours. I woke with the worst hangover of my life. To this day coffee is not my friend. More of an uneasy ally. While I can’t see ever completely giving up on it, I’m constantly on guard, watching for that creeping, sinking feeling from Over Caffinating.


Like all social/economic class structures the Hobo world has it’s own set of pretty defined and rigid sub-classes. The definitive authority on this is the Hoboken based NJHA (New Jersey Hobo Association), Motto ~ “We grade the Hobos so you don’t have to”. Just as there is a “secret” Hobo language scratched into fence posts and rail cars across this great nation, there is also a lapel pin program much like Amway but with more Thunderbird involved in the grading process.

If you are to lazy to climb the vaunted “Hobo Ladder of success” you are doomed to be last in line at the soup kitchen and draw the worst dumpster routes in town. These lower level Hobo are identifiable by their uncouth begging skills (“Gimme!”) and tendency to fall into dumpsters head-first (you can hear their muffled cries for help in back alley’s across the country).

If you have any other Hobo related questions please feel free to ask.

“Getting ideas is like shaving: if you don’t do it every day, you’re a bum”

~ Alex Kroll

I was there for the quake that happened in 1999. Grew up just outside of Seattle, on Bainbridge Island, and loved the city. I got out just as the Starbucks craze was picking up steam. I miss the great weather, last week of July if I remember, but don’t miss the overcast days.

Pioneer Square used to be the best hobo/bum watching area. When it comes to bums, you just can’t beat the original skid row.


Dump that Starbucks label and get ya some Indie owned Stumptown Coffee - now that is the bomb, in my opinion.


A place known for coffee AND beer… I’m afraid to visit Seattle, because I may never come back.

Ain’t it so that Hobos (proper) are offended when called a “bum”?

Remember the classic Hobo age of the 30’s?

Ah, the hobos of yesteryear, they weren’t just leaning on stuff and pissing on coffee shops. Those were the days.

Hobos forever venerated through the prose and song of one Woody Guthrie


Ya know the part of town we live in? Hawthorne (around 15th). In other words, we’re within’ walking distance to no less than eight coffee bars. And Ko’s wanting me to include the Plaid Pantry and 7-11 - so that’s ten.

And I ain’t even gonna count the brew pubs. Hehehe