Arosa Cafe is a cozy neighborhood coffee shop that has developed a reputation for its scrumptious Belgian snack waffles and its real imported Swiss chocolate Mochas. Equally delightful are the array of breakfast and Panini sandwiches which our baristas are happy to prepare any time we are open, and to top it off, a serving of Italian Gelato with your choice of topping.
Isabel and her team of baristas make the waffles and all of the other pastries fresh each morning, which means arriving at the shop well before our 6 AM opening. We encourage our customers to come in to chat, to use our free WiFi, and to sample any of the new espresso – gelato concoctions that Isabel has come up with. Our goal is to make every customer visiting Arosa Café - First Hill feel like they are part of our family.
More About Us!
Arosa Cafe was initially established in Madison Park in 1992 by Hans Riechsteiner. Hans, a Swiss native, set out to make a richer, more flavorful mocha, using generous amounts of imported Swiss chocolate that many think is the best mocha in the city!
Not one to rest on his laurels, Hans wanted to create a unique snack item he could serve customers in addition to his famous mochas. On a trip to Belgium he fell in love with the simple yet tasty Liege waffles served out of street carts. Upon returning to Seattle, he and his wife Ellen developed their unique take on this Belgian treat and soon the customers were lining up to sample these one-of-a-kind waffles.
Located in a vacated Starbucks space across from Swedish Hospital on First Hill, Hans set up his second Arosa Café offering the same Swiss chocolate Mocha’s and Belgian snack waffles that he had made famous at his first coffee shop. He also added additional menu items such as Panini sandwiches and an assortment ofcomplimentary pastries baked fresh each morning. Hans sold Arosa Café – First Hill in 2012 to follow his passion of Swiss Choclates by opening Ascona Choclat Suisse, a chocolate shop in Madison Park featuring imported Laderach chocolates from Switzerland.
In April, 2014, Isabel Lieber, owner of Black Swan Coffee Company, was asked by Hans to come in and manage Arosa Café – First Hill to allow the current owner to spend more time operating her catering business on Mercer Island. The first task Isabel tackled was to upgrade the coffee service and evaluated several coffee roasters to get just the right taste and consistency. She selected several roasts from Caffé D’arte, a local Northwest roasting company (www.caffedarte.com). Isabel next reconnected with Hans, to ensure that the shop was staying true to Hans’ original Snack Waffle and Swiss Mocha recipes. Hans and Isabel continue to get together at either Arosa or the chocolate shop to trade stories and to pass on greetings from old customers.
Finally, Isabel evaluated operating hours for the shop and elected to expand the hours of operation to 5 pm weeknights, and open both Saturday and Sunday from 7 AM to 3 PM to better serve her loyal customer base. Isabel, her daughters Kara and Correen, manager Aubrey McCleary, and a team of baristas strive to make each visit to the coffee shop a special occasion with friendly service and thoughtful recommendations. Isabel considers the coffee shop to be a work in progress as she tweaks menus and offerings to respond to customer requests, all the while staying true to Arosa’s origins.