Valhalla – Best coffee shop in Tacoma?

by Tom Hume

Valhalla Coffee – Might just be the best coffee shop in Tacoma

When I talk to people about my concept of having a section of our blog for Tacoma’s Best Places I usually use the example of my regular coffee stop, Valhalla Coffee . It is located at 3918 6th Ave in Tacoma and might just be the best coffee shop in Tacoma. It is top of mind because I am there a lot.

I won’t say Valhalla offers the coziest atmosphere in Tacoma. For a meeting venue or a place to pull out a laptop and write, there are larger, cushier spaces. If you just want to stop in for a truly excellent espresso served with a smile and be on your way, Valhalla is THE place to do that. The store is small and bustling with activity, with just a few tables. You are not exactly encouraged to linger for the afternoon.

At the heart of my penchant for Valhalla is the espresso itself. It is dark, rich, complex; a flavor that worms its way into your daydreams. Once it has become the standard by which you judge coffee, chain store swill will never do.

What makes it so good?

I asked AJ Anderson, the owner, what makes my daily Americano so good. It starts with the beans, which AJ sources himself from small growers around the world. He buys the best beans possible. As you will see if you stop in there is an antique-looking coffee roasting machine right there next to the counter. This is not for show. Just about every day you’ll find Magdelena or Israel roasting a batch something delicious. The beans or drinks that you order today were likely roasted within the past 24 hours. By contrast, the coffee from that chain store may have been roasted and bagged a year ago. Even when you seal a roasted bean it begins losing flavor right away.

AJ is a nerdy perfectionist when it comes to everything espresso; especially his store’s equipment. The machines cost more than my car. There is a right way and a wrong way to pull an espresso shot; a certain timing to it and everyone who works at Valhalla has this dialed in. So the answer to my question about what makes the coffee so good is “everything”. The standards are uncompromising every step of the way.

Here is a short film by my daughter, Noelle…

Faster Does It Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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