Espresso Express looks like any other independent coffee place in Seattle. Behind a counter, an espresso machine steams milk for a nonfat, extra hot cappuccino and a stained microwave heats up an unusually large croissant. A glass display case holds a variety of baked goods begging to be eaten. At tables, people make use of the free Wi-Fi, checking their e-mail and surfing the Internet.
Customers stream in and out; some are regulars, some are just stopping for a quick pick-me-up, and others are paying to fill up their cars with biodiesel at the pump outside the café.
Thirty years ago, this coffee hub was a gas station on the corner of Northeast 65th Street and 15th Avenue Northeast. After the station went out of business, Doug Barnhart bought the place and turned it into a café.
Recently, Espresso Express has returned to its roots, adding biodiesel to its menu of lattes, americanos and mochas.