Capitol Hill food+drink | With heavy course load, Honor Society Coffee earns high marks in Melrose Market

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Pachaud

Pachaud

True to its name, Capitol Hill’s Honor Society Coffee aims for high marks.

“Not only are we a coffee shop, but we are our own roaster and we also have a full food menu – and we have our own pastry program,” says Liz Pachaud, a coffee specialist who launched the Melrose Market business in September with veteran Seattle chef Brandin Myett.

While other cafes do various combinations of those things themselves, Pachaud believes hers may be the only one in Seattle doing all of them.

“Ultimately,” she says, “everything we do is an extension of the values that we have regarding hospitality, flavor, ingredients, environmental stewardship, community stewardship.”

She and Myett created Honor Society Coffee because they’d been looking for a cafe just like it, and couldn’t find one.

Pachaud says her shop’s name was inspired by a letterpress block she discovered in a Detroit antique store, with a lighthouse insignia and the words “Honor Society.” She’s noticed that the theme resonates with her customers.

CHS covered Honor Society Coffee shortly before it opened. Back then, Pachaud told us her goal was to help activate Melrose Market – a prime nightlife destination – during daylight hours. Today, she says the cafe is doing a pretty good job of it.

You could think of the arrangement as a permanent pop-up.

In the morning, Honor Society sets up in Sitka and Spruce’s bar and the adjoining Bar Ferdinand space. At night, the coffee shop packs up, and the host businesses take over to serve the dinner crowd. Myett and Pachaud get a venue for their business while bringing dayside warmth and energy to an area that might otherwise sit empty.

Along with its range of drinks and pastries, the cafe’s seasonally-focused menu includes things you might not expect from a place that’s pulling shots. A gently spicy brown rice bowl comes with roasted yams, black beans, avocado and pickled vegetables. It’s a sustaining dish with complex flavors. Avocado toast arrives looking like a colorful piece of abstract art — and disappears fast.

I’d heard the latte with house-made cashew milk described as “life-changing.” It was lighter than the dairy version, like strong espresso whipped into a cumulus cloud. My life didn’t change, exactly, but two days later I was back for another one.

If Honor Society Coffee isn’t on your radar yet, it may be because it’s easy to miss. Melrose Market is a short detour from high-traffic Pike and Pine, but it’s still a detour. And if you’re standing outside, your only tip-off to the café is a folding sign on the sidewalk.

Once you enter, though, Honor Society shines. Exposed wood, heavy beams and white paint hint that you’ve left Seattle – for a barn in the mountains, perhaps. Stacks of wood for Sitka’s oven suggest that you’ve suddenly lucked into a vacation.

Cozy overhead lighting brightens the café; bar-style seating and a table or two await. And if you want to hash out a project with a team over coffee and breakfast, there’s a private dining room that can seat ten.

Another reason you might have overlooked Honor Society is what Pachaud calls “the very obvious and understandable confusion between us and Honor Coffee.” CHS wrote about the Seattle-based chain here. It’s an issue she’s taken up with the Honor folks, and hasn’t yet resolved to her satisfaction. Suffice it to say that they’re entirely different businesses, and after a visit to Honor Society Coffee, you won’t mistake it for anywhere else.

Cheer up Mingus, it's Friday

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To glimpse the cafe’s approach, visit its Instagram feed, carefully curated by Pachaud. She sees it as a way to connect with people who appreciate the experience she’s offering. It’s like a lush little lifestyle magazine that lives in your phone.

Shots of food (yes, those are cocoa powder and black sesame biscotti) mingle with images of café life and events like neighboring Glasswing’s holiday market. And check out the ceramic cups by Day Chan of Olson Farms. They’re for sale at the counter, alongside colorful packages of roasted coffee.

“It’s important to me that we show people what we’re doing that’s special and beautiful,” says Pachaud, but also to reveal that real humans are shaping the experience. So she leavens the Instagram content with light-hearted copy.

And she knows that when you’re running a culinary business, great visuals ultimately matter less than what’s on your plate. Or in your cup.

“The food still has to taste good,” she says. “The coffee still has to be good.”

Honor Society Coffee is located in the Melrose Market at 1531 Melrose. It is open 8 AM to 3 PM Monday through Friday, 10 AM to 3 PM on weekends. You can learn more at honorsocietycoffee.com.

(Image: Rione XIII)

(Image: Rione XIII)

Capitol Hill food+drink notes
by jseattle

  • “Bring in the whole crew for dinner at Rione!” — Ethan and Angela Stowell’s family life has inspired a new promotion at the prolific restaurateurs’ Rione XIII:
    As restaurant owners and parents of young children, Ethan and Angela Stowell naturally spend a lot of time in restaurants with their two young boys. But they know that it can be tricky, bringing young kids into bustling restaurants, so they decided to make it just a little bit easier: on the second Tuesday of every month, Rione XIII will be especially family friendly from 5pm to 7pm, with a menu supplemented with kid-approved classics. “In the past couple years the Ethan Stowell Restaurant Family has grown tremendously,” says Angela Stowell. “And that’s not just with new restaurants—it’s with babies! Lots of ESR employees have started families in the past few years, and even with tiny ones in tow, they still want to go out for dinner, which is part of what inspired this idea.” In addition to the regular Rione menu, there will also be a family menu with dishes like: cauliflower and broccoli with Parmesan cream, tagliarini with butter, olive oil, and Grana Padano, bucatini with tomato sauce and meatballs, finocchiona pizza with mozzarella, Grana Padano, and tomato, and chicken Parmesan with broccolini and roasted potatoes. The first family night will be on January 10, then continuing on the second Tuesdays of each month. (Except for February, when family night will be on February 7, to make way for Valentine’s Day.)
  • The Americana family has expanded to Maple Leaf:
    The owner of popular Capitol Hill restaurant Americana has recently announced the grand opening of his second restaurant, Cucina Americana, located at 9400 Roosevelt Way NE in Seattle’s Maple Leaf neighborhood. Recently featured on KING 5 “Evening Magazine,” Cucina Americana is now open for brunch and dinner service.
  • Coming in 2017: Morfire Thai hot pots and cocktails on 12th Ave.
  • You think you don’t like dogs in your favorite bar, “Capitol Hill Will Soon Be Home to Seattle’s Second Cat Cafe.” And apparently we are reporting on “a letter of intent for a lease on the hill” now. Meow.
  • Now open: Cook Weaver in the lovely Loveless Building.screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-3-12-55-pm
  • Capitol Hill doesn’t have an urban winery — yet — but it does have an urban wine tasting room. Visit just-off-Broadway Aluel Cellars.
  • First Hill’s most amazing baker Sugar turned 10, is getting new owners. Congratulations on the road trip “retirement,” baker Stephanie.
  • Now open, also: Lark’s pizza sibling Southpaw.
  • Meanwhile, RIP, Meltdown Pizza. We wrote about the short-lived pizza joint here.
  • Neumos and Chop Suey getting nailed by new Pike/Pine garbage and recycling system. Why? All those tall boys you are ordering, dude.
  • Capitol Hill’s Raygun Lounge rolling out a barcade expansion, adding espresso.
  • Coming soon to E Pike in the old Lobby Bar space: Capitol Lounge.
  • Coming in 2017: An overhauled Elysian Brewery.
  • Nue doing “One-World dinners” — and it’s probably already sold out.
  • Want to buy a Capitol Hill pastry shop?
    screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-5-16-34-pm
  • We read Playboy for the articles featuring Liberty Bar.
  • Goodbye to Eastlake favorite Louisa’s. We’re sorry Reddit had to break the news.
  • Model Jennae Quisenberry shouts out some Hill faves: “8oz Burgers&Co, Pike Place Chowder, Sun Liquor Lounge, Revolver Bar, Rumba, Kedai Makan, Cafe Pettirosso, Momiji, and the first place I hit up every time I come home is Tortas Condesa for the Holé Molé Torta”
  • Speaking of Tortas Condesa, “Monica Dimas Is the Best Seattle Restaurant Chef of 2016,” says Thrillist, brah.
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4 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | With heavy course load, Honor Society Coffee earns high marks in Melrose Market

  1. I am really glad for the clarification that Honor Coffee isn’t the same as Honor Society Coffee. I have been so disappointed by Honor Coffee – consistently poor cappuccino craftsmanship! – and would hate to missed out on Honor Society because I assumed it was more of the same mediocrity.

    • Aww, I really like Honor at Broadway & Olive though I don’t get cappucino.

      That corner was previously such a terrible coffee void…. almost 2 whole blocks from the booths at Let-It-Bean-formerly-TNT and Vivace. I realize that is ridiculous to say, but there it is.

  2. I too had no idea they were two different companies. I thought it was weird that this was so focused on Melrose Market and didn’t mention their location near the Light Rail or on 15th. Now I know!

  3. Just an FYI: Sugar Bakery on First Hill is closed until January 2nd for a “holiday break,” but probably it has more to do with the change of ownership.