It Was By Accident
When I moved to Seattle, I didn't know that the coffee place down the street was famous. I just knew that the people who worked there seemed nice and that they served up some mighty fine coffee. Over time, I saw a more complete picture. The people at Hines had a relationship with the community. They knew their customers. And trusted them. If you didn't have cash for your latte, they knew they could collect the next time you came around.
At various times I received free espresso shots, free drinks, and on two occasions, free pounds of coffee.
They had free WiFi. Crazy art on the walls. Dilapidated furniture.
They had baristas who attended coffee conferences in Guatemala. They competed in competitions. And they won.
They patiently, and without pretention, shared their knowledge with people who expressed an interest knowing more.
When Eastlake rallied the community (for the organization of a street fair, a discussion of crime in the neighborhood or some other local concern), the people met at Hines.
They introduced me to cardamum cake, a dessert for which I have still not found a substitute.
Hines was shuttered last fall. The decaying building that housed them was set to be demolished and turned into a mixed use structure with condos and street level commercial space. There were whispered tales of its reemergence (as a coffee cart, as a new spot in Belltown, at a new location in Eastlake...) but it seems there will be no such thing. It has been reported that their roaster has been sold and that Hines will likely reemerge in Vancouver.
I envy the folks in the neighborhood where they set up shop again. That place was special.