By Ron Swarner on August 31, 2010


Neighborhood: Sixth Avenue, Tacoma

Address/phone: 2607 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.572.2550

Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

Noshing/Sipping: Vegans, rejoice! Finally, a coffee joint for the fan of Tofurky and baked potato loaf in all of us. Shuanna Holt and Shane Siegfried's Caffe Dei is a combination espresso bar/cafe/neighborhood hang that offers breakfast sandwiches, bagels and spreads, soups, and sandwiches - some vegetarian, some vegan, some gluten-free and all of them are super-delicious - including a killer grilled cheese (cheddar and pepperjack) on baked potato bread. They carry the Mighty-O organic donut out of Seattle in French toast, lemon poppyseed, chocolate cake, blueberry and glazed.

They also happen to makes some of the best espresso drinks around - with healthy ingredients in interesting combinations, then saddled with funny names such as Sasquatch (when Americano meets cappuccino), Arancione Moka (espresso, dark Dutch chocolate, steamed sweetened condensed milk and orange zest) and Abominus (four espresso shots over sweetened condensed milk). Thai coffee, Vietnamese coffee, exotic teas, steeped drinks that includes chrysanthemum flavors, root beer and Izze drinks don the menu board, too.

Standard Cup o' Joe: $1.25-$2

Bean Source: True North Coffee (Seattle) AND Ipsut Creek Roasters (Tacoma) - try them both or combine them, maybe like a waterfall shot drink. Oh, nice.

Crowd: Neighborhood friends, UPS students, writers, wandering gypsies

Soundtrack: The Cardigans, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

WiFi: Yes

Bonus Points: Um, Vegan! Plus aromatic spices meet espresso, all sandwiches come with Kettle chips, draw curtain in front of couch for making out, local art (this month Ann Kendall), Macrina bakery goods (delicious!), reading material, jewelry, and the owners are just cool.

The House:

Whatever mood you're in (and coffee drinkers tend to be a moody lot), odds are you'll feel comfortable at Café Dei. Light or dark. Indoors or out. Manic or depressive. Take your pick and you'll be fine.

Out front underneath the tree, there's minimal seating for watching the theater that is Sixth Avenue. Inside, it's deep, sober with concrete floors and gray walls. Up front by the makeout couch, the large windows allow ample light for focused study or a leisurely reading of the Weekly Volcano, while the back darkens up a bit, perfect for overexposing slide film or contemplative hangover recovery. Wooden tables and chairs dot the large space with modern light fixtures above. Huge speakers give hope.

The joint also receives high marks for opening on Sundays.

No animals were harmed or eaten in the writing of this article.