Carrie Locke, manager and baker at Avellino, allowed me to ask her some questions about the downtown coffee shop while she buzzed around the kitchen, the sweet smell of baking pastries and roasted coffee beans hanging in the air. She had arrived at 2:00AM to get the baking started for the day. Between timers going off every few minutes, customers poking their heads around the corner to say hi, and keeping up with dishes, Carrie managed to give me heartfelt responses to a long list of curiosities I had about this Bellingham jewel of a coffee shop.
Carrie began working at Avellino over 12 years ago when current owner Pat Blakeslee acquired the shop. She explained that the original owners, a mother-daughter team, had a plan to travel to the town where their husband/father had grown up in Italy.
Their plans changed when the royal espresso machine, Stella, became available to them. They took it as a sign, and opened what is now Avellino—sentimentally named after their would-be travel destination. Stella is no longer in action, now decorating the store sitting above the front door.
Since 2003, Pat and Carrie have steadily built a foundation of regulars. In fact, the majority of Avellino’s customer base is made up of regulars. The homey environment and quality baked goods and espresso are enough to draw folks in time after time. Carrie’s favorite part of working at Avellino is the family-like, cozy atmosphere in the store. Local art adorns the walls, comfy armchairs are tucked next to big picture windows, and there is the constant sound of conversation in the background.
Of course, atmosphere in itself is never enough to keep customers loyal. Avellino’s high standards for quality in baked goods, careful selection in coffee beans and excellent training for baristas is what makes this spot a go-to for so many locals and visitors in Bellingham.
The current menu of baked goods consists of recipes that have been perfected in the years since Pat bought the shop. Changes are occasional, and only additions that are comparable or better than the tried and true make the cut. However, the vast majority of the menu has remained the same over the years.
Options range from decadent sweets to savory goodies. Avellino offers cream puffs and carrot cake among other sweet selections to buy in the store, or even to order ahead of time for group gatherings or parties. Buttery pastries like the raspberry white chocolate scone and apple pull-aparts, grace the shelves among rows of muffins and croissants. Savory options like the pesto rolls toasted to perfection and breakfast burritos are available as well. Get there early, as many of these are so popular they sell out daily!
Those that are looking for gluten-free, vegan and soy-free baked goods should definitely drop by Avellino. A while back, one of the bakers had some specific dietary requirements which led to their excellent selection of foods fit for these diets. The wide selection of gluten-free and other alternatives leaves customers with all diet types with options, and the goods are just as succulent as the gluten, soy and dairy-filled options.
As far as coffee goes, Avellino’s quality is unmatched. They use a triple origin bean from Loaded Coffee Co.—the origins are Indonesia, Guatemala and Brazil. The result is a full, round flavor that is not quite like anything else in town. They roast this brew up both for their drip and espresso.
You can always count on a smooth shot when you order an espresso at this spot. If the baristas feel that shots did not come out quite right or sat a few seconds too long, down the drain they go. These pros will only serve you the best.
In addition to the coffee itself, the caramel featured in any of the coffee drinks is home-made. Carrie highly recommends the popular caramel mocha and claims is hands-down the best of its kind up or down the entire I-5 corridor.
The most popular combo? That would be their famous morning glory muffin (they have regular and gluten free versions—both equally as moist and flavorful) with an Americano. You can’t go wrong with this order—a combination I have personally enjoyed more than a few times.
Another draw of Avellino is its prime downtown location. Right in the heart of the city, the location contributes to its role as an integral part of the Bellingham community, according to Carrie. Sun or gloom, you will usually see folks sipping and munching at a table in front enjoying the busy sidewalks.
Avellino has had some big changes in the works to make life that much sweeter for their customers. Their commitment to serving customers with all dietary needs has led to their recent partnership with 100% Celiac safe Gluten Free Angels and Original Grains (formerly Bellingham Flatbread and Bakery), means that all of Avellino’s baked joy has extended out to other parts of the city.
With such a sweet, cozy spot in the heart of the city, we locals and visitors alike can count ourselves lucky. Avellino’s unique history and role in Bellingham’s food culture makes this a special spot that keeps customers loyal. If you’re looking for something to do one lazy weekend morning, saunter over to Avellino, grab a world-class Americano and a hot-from-the oven muffin. Then grab a cozy seat by the window, sit, and enjoy the vibe.