Tacoma Urbanist

Feb. 24, 2008 at 12:20am

Beloved McKinley Hill Coffee Shop: Now Open

Today, I travelled to McKinley Hill and visited Neighborhood Coffee House and Espresso. I like the name which focuses on the neighborhood and clearly on coffee so it can't be confused as being a deli.

The coffee shop is in a remarkable craftman house which has been restored.

The amazing thing about visiting was the outward friendliness of people there, most of whom I had never met.  The coffee shop opening was so personal to so many folks there. 

Each person had a exasperated story about how hard it was to get the city to allow Neighbors Coffee to open.  It was if the coffee shop was owned by everyone.

Here are a couple of local neighborhood residents.  (Check out the trim work on the door frame.)

Tacoma City Socialite Networking Extraordinaire and City of Tacoma
employee Roxanne Murphy was there and flashed a smile.

(Check out the original wainscoting behind the counter.)

Here is Chris Woods who is one of the owners.

Gas fireplace.  Multiple built ins.  They don't make houses like this anymore.

The coffee was good.  I was so busy talking that I missed taking a picture of it but that just means I will have to come back again.  They did have whole milk though, high end pastries and handled the temperature and foam well cappuccino.

Neighborhood Espresso and Coffee House
E 34th and McKinley

05:00 to 8pm m-f
06:00 to 8pm sat and sun

See the first review by Tacomamamma as well.


McKinley Hill finally has their community coffee shop (neighborhood command center).  When I visited, it looked as if they were already holding a (crowded) neighborhood meeting in the back.  I suspect they will hold as many community meetings here as possible.

This is a critical component in increasing the stability of a neighborhood, one small business at a time.  The front section of the house has a bar where a slew of people can drink coffee and look out the window.

Urban Design Note

The City of Tacoma antiquated-business-killing off-street parking requirement threatened to keep Neighborhood Espresso from opening until a church stepped in a helped them out:

And when the city told them they’d need more parking spaces than the property allowed, nearby Tacoma Christian Center sent a letter to the city stating that the coffee shop’s customers could use their lot.

Despite all of the consultants, forums and community discussions, Tacoma's "build a strip mall" or nothing zoning code is still trumping every civic value Tacoma holds even the efforts of McKinley Hill neighborsto bring some life into a neighborhood.  Had the church not stepped in, they may have never been able to open.  Closed and vacant, they would have been totally compliant with Tacoma's 1960s car centric city codes.

comments [6]  |  posted under tacoma, washington


by jenyum on 2/24/2008 @ 9:16am
There's oceans of on-street parking available in that neighborhood, too. It really is insane that such a thing could have held up their opening.

by Erik on 2/24/2008 @ 10:33am
There's oceans of on-street parking available in that neighborhood, too. It really is insane that such a thing could have held up their opening.

Yep. They need more buildings with activity in them, not yet more parking lots.

Plus, unless they city changes its regulation, McKinley Hill will never be able to obtain the attractive continuous retaill frontage like 6th Avenue, Stadium or Proctor and parts of Hilltop have.

The only reasons these areas are able to have continuous storefronts is that they are hold overs from pre-off-street parking requirement. The most attractive and pedestrian friendly but now illegal to build.

by dltooley on 2/26/2008 @ 7:27am
FWIW I walk there, down 34th, from about a mile away.

by Erik on 2/26/2008 @ 12:36pm
FWIW I walk there, down 34th, from about a mile away.

Nice. That's wort of walkable.

by Erik on 2/26/2008 @ 12:54pm
I mean "sort of walkable." :)

by KayKay on 3/28/2008 @ 8:00am
OH Hurrah...another locally owned neighborhood coffee house! Good news!