Monday, October 19, 2009

A brief history of cupcakes (+ coffee)

Hot cocoa, Cupcake Royale (a.k.a. "cupcakes + coffee")

As is becoming increasingly typical, I'm posting this week's Cup o' Joe in Monday's final hour in the Pacific Time Zone...I'll try and be more on my game next week. But first, a quick note to you:

Hooray for new folks checking out my blog! I began this primarily as a way for people in Kansas, Ohio, the Netherlands and other various places that have been home to me at one time or another, to keep up with my life post-all-of-those-places...but given that I write as much as I do about specific places around the city, it makes me happy to know people in Seattle are occasionally following this, too. (And I've had several protests from Seattle friends on the notion of Starbucks as socially taboo here, so perhaps I need to stand corrected on that point.) Anyway, thoughts are always appreciated - so if you're reading this, I'd love to get your feedback!

With that, cupcakes are great. I was telling Becca on the phone yesterday that I think cupcakes are the wave of the future. They're coming back! Not that cupcakes were ever really "out" - but there's something retro and simple about them, and cities are picking up on it. Given that my best friend's favorite things in the world are cupcakes, it's no surprise that I give them a lot of thought. My exposure to cupcake-specific businesses began exactly one year ago, when Seyeon and I took a fall break our senior year to tour the lovely city of Austin, Texas, and stumbled onto this awesome trailer one cool October evening:

According to Facebook, an old friend of mine from high school who moved to Austin several years ago apparently now works at "hey cupcake!"

I thought it was an Austin-thing. But no! Seattle's got it going on, too. Seyeon and I discovered this cute little place on Pike Street called "Cupcake Royale" several months ago, and have made several repeat visits in the time since. With new featured cupcakes each month (autumn-themed ones this month!), they also boast funky flavors like "Royale with Cheese" (I didn't catch the Pulp Fiction reference until my second time there) and "Salted Caramel" (curious? NY Times tries to explain.)

The spread, clockwise from top: Seyeon's Americano, my pumpkin maple cupcake, my hot cocoa (the cutting-down-on-caffeine thing), her salted caramel cupcake.

The decor is...confusing? Exposed brick can be urban chic, but...

Exposed concrete? I don't know. And there's some seriously funky modern art, too - protruding, indecipherable, and occasionally grotesque abstract sculpture, etc. Another weak point for CR are its prices. $2.75 for specialty cupcakes that can easily be put away in three bites? Harumph. It's probably best for my health and blood sugar levels that way, but my wallet and my appetite have a different opinion on the matter.

The usual: great coffee (by Stumptown, a Portland-based coffee company that's branched out to Seattle and now NYC), floor-to-ceiling windows, fun people-watching location, trendy coffee merchandise, free wi-fi.

The not-so-usual: cute pink chairs, imaginative cupcake flavors, getting to watch the pastry chefs there frost all the cupcakes. Decadent!

Overall: not the coziest place to sit down and hang out...but sometimes it's just fun to remind myself I'm not 5 anymore and at the whim of my parents, so if I feel like having a cupcake (or two), I can walk into a funky little place in Seattle and darn well have myself one.


  1. I think the cupcake craze actually started in NYC; a place called Magnolia Bakery got widespread attention through films and TV (see ), and it spread from there.

    Happy eating!


  2. Seyeon likes cupcakes, huh? One of my superpowers may or may not be cupcake baking. Just saying.

    Thanks for coming over the other night! Everyone seemed to have a great time and, from what I've heard yesterday, y'all were a big hit. I'm STILL sore from that damn game!

    Hopefully I'll see you again soonish!