Liberty Cafe: A Guy Named Mike, Fair Trade And Liberty For All

Liberty Cafe is known for excellent coffee, but there's so much more to enjoy as Foodie Catherine Reynolds recently discovered.

Full disclaimer... I don't drink coffee. Caffeine and I are not friends. Which is why it's taken me so long to review this esteemed gathering spot for some of the best brewed coffee in the Pac NW. And it you can find it at Renton's Liberty Cafe.

Happily, I discovered that Liberty Cafe serves exquisite teas from a Renton producer, Theo Dorres Aromatics. I chose a cup of Eve and Adam, which is a blend of Gunpowder Green, Green Rooibus, Pink Rose Petals, Jasmine Flowers, Blue Malva. Fruit and floral aspects meet with a bright acidity in this heady cup.

"Why is coffee an important part of your life?" I asked my husband as I sipped my tea. For him, a day isn't complete without a great cup of coffee. A true coffee aficionado can discern flavors and flaws that I look for when judging wine, as a sommelier. I had no idea that there are also coffee sommeliers who judge quality by acidity, aroma, body, and flavor, but it makes a lot of sense as there are many parallels between coffee and wine.

uses beans from Middle Fork Roasters in Seattle's South Park. Middle Fork's owner, Matt Parrish, roasted and managed a successful coffee shop for several years before starting his own company, named after the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River. "Throughout my roasting career I have perfected this art, as well as developed a secret technique to bringing any roast profile (light or dark) to a full city crack." A full city crack is when the oils inside the bean rise to the surface, producing a spicy full-bodied taste. This is the most difficult technique as roasters can easily burn or overdevelop the beans by pushing the envelop.

My husband ordered a double Americano which is made with Full City Espresso, a secret blend of fair trade beans that is rich and smooth. And in comes the second component--the talent of the barista who pulls the shots. That would be Mike Moskowitz, co-owner of the Liberty Cafe. I noticed that almost everyone who walked through the door knew Mike by name, but he was equally kind to us as new patrons. With yellow-tinted glasses, a Medusa-like swirl of dreadlocks, and baritone banter, Mike is a Renton original and one heck of a barista.

Apparently Mike thought about naming his cafe "Seventy-Seven Steps" which was the exact distance between his house and Liberty. He and business partner Johnnie Uysal, owner of Cascade Awnings, renovated the place themselves to keep costs down. Also, be advised that Liberty Cafe accepts only cash which helps keep the prices low without sacrificing quality. Two sandwiches, an artisan tea, and a double short Americano came to $8, a steal of a lunch.

Soup is available at the cafe during the week. Sandwich options on a Sunday afternoon included three panini's: a vegetarian cheese melt, roast beef with cheddar, prosciutto and provolone, simply seasoned with Dijon mustard on a grilled roll. For desserts, there was a variety of Nellie Lynn's mini cheesecakes, your choice of chocolate, vanilla brulee, or original, for $3.50. Nellie Lynn's operates out of  across the street, and this is an opportunity to sample a one to two person portion dessert, rather than a full-sized cheesecake which feeds 12 to 16 people.

For those of you who appreciate independent businesses with individual character, come check out downtown Renton, or as the locals call it DTR. We've got a row of antique shops plus Happy Delusions, my go-to gift shop for birthdays and baby showers which houses a selection of crafts from local artists. Shop, and then refresh yourself at Liberty Cafe. Even if you don't live here, you'll come to understand why DTR is a special place, hailed as more Ballard than Ballard these days.


926 South 3rd Street
9 am to 9 pm daily


Richard Morris May 26, 2012 at 05:03 PM
If there is a bone in your body that aches to support local businesses - Liberty Cafe should be the go to place for your coffee and treats! Mike has honed his barista skills to a level seldom matched elsewhere. Great homey, loving feel to this place.
ira sacharoff May 26, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Mike's a great guy, the place is nice, and a nice review, but you spelled the guy's name wrong. He's not a Moscovitch, he's a Moscowitz.
julie hamilton May 26, 2012 at 06:48 PM
My husbands first experience at the Liberty Cafe...he went in to buy a cup of coffee and when Mike saw on his hat that he was a VietNam vet he said this is on the house..thank you for your service...that really touched my husbands heart!
Jenny Manning May 26, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Thanks for the correction, Ira. I've updated the article with the correct spelling.
Marcie Palmer May 27, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Yep, Mike is the best. He has done so much to give DTR a face and reason to be in Downtown Renton, just by being himself. Check out Yelp reviews---every one is positive! http://www.yelp.com/biz/liberty-cafe-renton


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