Three New Cafes in the DMV

June was a very good month to us. That’s because three new cafes have hit the DMV!

In DC we have the Crimson Diner in the newly opened Pod Hotel. Right beneath the Chinatown archway, this hip new spot serves Blanchard’s Coffee exclusively (you might be familiar with them already thanks to Pleasant Pops, Glen’s Garden Market, and Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.). Grab a pour-over and settle in, admiring the beautiful open space and elegant Modbar equipment, or situate yourself in the window for prime people watching.

Long-awaited Takoma Bev. Co. hit the scene in Maryland just a few weeks ago, offering a full cafe menu and a range of beverages from hand-crafted coffee to wine, beer, and cocktails. The coffee side of the business, which serves Counter Culture Coffee, is directed by co-owner Seth Cook who once served as the Director of Coffee for NoVa favorite Northside Social. There is already talk of expanding the space once their neighbor PollySue’s Vintage Shop relocates!

In Virginia, Portside Coffee and Bakery added a new option for coffee-lovers in Leesburg. Serving Cervantes Coffee and pastries imported from all over the world, Portside “is reminiscent of past coffee culture when coffee was sipped, thoughts were formed, and new friends were met.” They also host “Cars & Coffee” every Sunday from 9-11am; stop by for 10% off your entire purchase!

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Kenyan pour-over at the Crimson Diner in Chinatown.

So far I have one of these shops down, two to go! Have you visited any of them yet? Please share your experiences!

Keep caffeinated,

Lauren

The Better the Water, the Better the Coffee

The better the water, the better the coffee. Makes sense right? I mean, nearly 99% of coffee is water. So why have I been using sub-par water to make my coffee all these years?

DC water is not the tastiest. I won’t drink it straight from the tap. Maybe I just got used to my local water system in Louisiana, or maybe my taste buds are super sensitive. Maybe it’s DC’s rough history with the water system… So like so many of you, when I drink a glass of water, I drink filtered water. However, for three of the almost four years I’ve been living in DC, I’ve been using the tap water when brewing my coffee.

That stopped when I attended my first coffee competition, the annual Aeropress Competition that took place last July. Competitors came in with their own water, some filtered in jugs, others particular water bottle brands. And only at this time did I realize I might want to stop using tap water for my coffee. I mean, there’s a reason not one of these coffee pros is using tap water. So that evening as I was programming my drip machine for the next morning, I decided to add filtered water as opposed to tap water. And did it make a difference…?

Absolutely!

I could immediately tell my coffee was cleaner and crisper. And honestly, now it takes longer for residue to build up on my drip machine. Now filtered water is all I use. It’s an added benefit that filtered water is better for your health as it is absent of some unwanted elements that could otherwise be making their way through your body. It can also contribute to nutrient absorption, weight loss, skin hydration, and detoxification.

After reading this, you might be thinking, “No shit, Sherlock,” and that is fine. But if you’re not doing so already, try making your morning coffee with filtered water and let us know if you can taste the difference.

Keep caffeinated,

Lauren

P.S.- Yes, there are cities out there with high quality tap water. Maybe you’re lucky to live in one of these places where filtered water isn’t necessary. If you do, please share with us your thoughts on using your local tap water to brew coffee.

How to Make Cold Brew

It’s getting warmer and warmer outside, which means I am making my annual switch from hot to cold coffee. However, just a year ago I was brewing hot coffee, pouring it over ice, and calling it a day. The coffee I ended up taking to work was never as cold as I preferred, and it was always watered down. The solution? Cold brew.

So what is cold brew coffee? It’s really a concentrate. Coffee is brewed for 12-14 hours, resulting in a much stronger, less acidic taste. You can drink it straight (good luck with that), but it’s meant to be cut with water and/or milk. I personally prepare mine 60% cold brew, 20% water, 20% milk.

Making your own cold brew coffee at home might sound intimidating, but in reality it’s super easy. You can make it over the weekend and have it ready to go all week long!

I prefer East African beans for my cold brew (and honestly, for most of my coffees), but you can honestly use any kind of Arabica bean. This time around I used Rwandan. Additionally, I live by myself, so I always make small batches of the stuff. However, you can easily double or triple the recipe to meet your household needs.

Ingredients:

One cup/4 oz. of whole coffee beans

4 cups of water

Step one: Grind

Grind your beans on the coarsest setting on your grinder. If you have a spice grinder, grind in 1-second pulses. Your grounds should look almost like peppercorns rather than a fine powder (fine grounds are going to result in a sludge-y cold brew, and no one wants that).

Step 2: Combine coffee and water

Whether you’re using a mason jar or pitcher in which to make the cold brew, combine the grounds and water and stir thoroughly to ensure the grounds all are saturated.

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Step 3: Steep

The easiest thing to do is to let your concoction steep overnight. It should steep for about 12 hours, either on the counter or in the refrigerator (it really doesn’t matter).

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Surprise Step: Make coffee cubes

Brew a small pot of coffee and pour into an ice cube tray to freeze overnight. This will be an excellent addition to your coffee in the morning!

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Step 4: Strain

Okay, I don’t have a strainer or a flour cloth like a lot of recipes call for. I simply used my colander and a thin dish towel. Works just the same, I swear! I put these over a large bowl and pour my coffee through the colander (but you can also use a strainer and flour cloth if you’re more sophisticated than I am).

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Step 5: Enjoy!

Dilute your cold brew with as much water or milk as you wish and enjoy! Your cold brew can keep up to a week in the fridge.

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It’s that easy! And in my opinion takes less time than getting my drip machine ready every night of the week. The Washington Post recently penned an article on cold brew as well if you want to check out their recipes and take on the beverage. It’s an insightful read!

Let us know if you try out the recipe or if you have your own cold brew recipe you wish to share!

Keep caffeinated,

Lauren

 

Table Service

With Slipstream opening their second location this weekend and Vigilante rolling out “Table Service” full time in their café, we thought it high time to talk about it. What is Table Service and how does it fit into DC coffee?

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Slipstream on 14th Street. Credit: @mrpaulop (Instagram)

Part of the Third Wave of coffee is the concept of offering higher quality everything for customers: coffee, water filtration, food pairing, atmosphere.. The Second Wave was about convenience, but now people want to offer more of a third space for their customers – a place away from home and work where they can commune with others.

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The menu at Vigilante Coffee

In regions like Europe and Australia, table service is seen more often than not – it’s the norm and the anticipated. Leave the hurried life behind for a moment while you enjoy a delicious cup of coffee with a friend and unwind. On a recent trip to New York, in fact, I was reminded of the concept at the Australian café “Citizens of Chelsea,” and time slowed down for a few moments.

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This lovely latte art was brought to my table without a worry

Cafes like Slipstream and the Busboys and Poets on 14th Street NW naturally have table service as their menu is a bit more expansive than a typical coffee shop (I bring up that particular BB&P because it has a large café-type area in addition to their restaurant with couches and coffee tables). Coffee-focused cafes like Tryst and now Vigilante also offer a different coffee shop experience, one that is meant to be relaxing and stress free.

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No waiting around for this avocado toast at Slipstream.                                             Credit: @momentofmeaning (Instagram)

As Austin pointed out in Vigilante’s blog, no more pacing around the drink bar waiting for your coffee, hoping no one else accidentally snatches yours. (Don’t worry – if you’re in a hurry you can still order your drink to-go!). You no longer feel the pressure to blurt out your order as you’re trying to read the tasting notes of the single origins on the menu. Another plus: chat with the barista when they bring you your drink, they will be less rushed than if they were just working on drinks all day.

What do you think about table service in DC? How does it affect your workday or your meet-up with friends?

Stay grounded,

Daniëlle

 

Bike to Work Day 2017

Tomorrow is the day many of you have been waiting for – Bike to Work Day! Last year over 17,000 people registered with even more participating, and even with potential storms I’m betting for another awesome turnout this year.

We all know the benefits of biking to work – exercise, low cost, environmentally friendly – but tomorrow there are also freebies and deals for those who ditch the gas guzzler for two wheels. Below are some of the coffee-related deals we have seen as well as where coffee will be located along your commute.

Cafe Kindred: They will be located on the W&OD Trail.

Commonwealth Joe: They will be located at the Ballston, Columbia Pike, and Rosslyn pit stops.

Dog Tag Bakery: They will be located at the Georgetown Waterfront pit stop.

Grace Street Coffee: They will be located at the Georgetown Waterfront pit stop.

Malmaison: The cafe will be opening at 8am, and they are offering $2 off any of their large specialty juices (ok, this isn’t coffee, but what deal!).

Peregrine: They will be located at the Union Market pit stop.

Stomping Ground: They will be located at the Del Ray pit stop.

Swing’s Coffee: Bring in your helmet to show you’re biking to work and receive a $1 12oz. coffee and a fun gift from District Taco.

Vigilante Coffee: They will be located at the Hyattsville pit stop.

This link takes to you the official Bike to Work Day page where you can register to participate and find your pit stop (there will be 86 around the DC metro area). And if you need convincing that caffeinating before biking is good for you, look no further.

Be safe, stay hydrated, and have fun biking to work tomorrow!

Keep caffeinated,

Lauren

Neighborhood Crawl: Dupont Circle

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Oh Dupont Circle! Home of the High Heeled Race, weekend chess games, and turn-of-the-century rowhouses. It was my first introduction to Washington DC as an adult (well, twenty-something college student) and while so much has stayed the same in 13 years (2 a.m. empañada shops and getting lost in Kramer Books), there have been welcome additions to the area as well.

It would be overly ambitious to name all the places worth a visit next time you’re in Dupont Circle but let us take you to a few places worthy of your taste buds and a feast for your eyes.

1. Begin your stroll by popping into DGS Delicatessen where Colony Club is hosting the pop-up/collaboration, “Sadie’s Weekdays.” DGS Deli pays homage to the District Grocery Stores that adorned the corners of the District early in the 20th century, and the architecture and design will tug on your nostalgia strings. Grab your Bullfrog breakfast bagel and a beautifully crafted specialty coffee drink in this inviting space to start out your day. {Note: if you’re coming by after 11 or on weekends we also really enjoy En je ne sais Quoi a few doors up – while more a bakery than a coffee-focused cafe, the croissants and other specialty baked goods are serious business).

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2. Walk northwest along Connecticut Avenue to Dupont Circle. Fact: the fountain itself was designed by the same duo who designed the Lincoln Memorial, Henry Bacon and Daniel Chester French. On weekends you are sure to find entertaining chess games along the outer rim of the park but one guide suggested bringing your own board games if that suited better! [Has anyone else noticed a surge of “Settlers of Catan” games going down around town??] While the water is not currently on, there is plenty of life around the fountain and great people watching opportunities. Or sit and read the paper on the grass for a while and place bets on which squirrels are the boldest.

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3. If you are there on a Sunday stop into the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market. A great opportunity to purchase a bag of Zeke’s coffee to take home with you as well as some pickles and a plant and whatever else might be on your list!

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4. Walk over to the Phillips Collection (“America’s First Museum of Modern Art) and experience the most intimate way to view a Van Gogh or Georgia O’Keefe in the city. Walking through the building itself is worth its admission price (check out their website for pricing as it varies by time and circumstance) although the rotating exhibitions always aim to impress. [Note: the main house will be closed for renovations beginning 23 May so head over there quickly or you’ll have to wait until 2018!]

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5. Two blocks directly south will find you at Emissary. A basement cafe that opened last fall, it serves light bites and bar drinks at night, and during the day it’s a third wave coffeeshop begging for you to meet up with a friend on the terrace or read a book over their marble design.

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Note: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the incredible opportunity to visit some embassies in the area this weekend and over the next several weeks – more info here and here. Filter Coffee and Glen’s Garden Market are mere steps from each other on 20th St NW – both absolutely worth the tiny detour from Connecticut Ave. And the National Geographic Museum is next on my list, also just a stone’s throw from Dupont. Lastly- Dupont Underground!!!! Do some googling and get out there, folks.

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What are some other favorites in and around Dupont Circle? Please share in the comments!

Stay Grounded,

Daniëlle

One Mug at a Time

On any given night there are 8,350 homeless persons in DC. The annual homeless assessment report from HUD revealed that homelessness in the District increased 14.4% in 2016, the third largest spike in the country. Also, while the number of single homeless persons might be falling, the number of children and parents experiencing homelessness is rapidly increasing.

These statistics can seem daunting, and there’s a lot of work to do. However, its people like those at District Mugs that provide me hope. Last week I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit this unique program that works to combat some of these problems in our city.

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Learning about design and falling in love with all of these mugs. Photo by Yasser Osafat

District Mugs launched less than a year ago. The social enterprise was started by Shreya Bhargava, Founder and Director, after she volunteered at homeless shelters in DC. She saw the misconceptions about the homeless population and also the potential, and she wanted to create a program that would empower them. Courtney D’Amico, Assistant Director, has been involved since the beginning, eager to provide skills and resources for clients to become self-sufficient. Yasser Osafat and Try Serino round out the team as art instructors whose rapport with the clients is effortless and fun.

Their clients, who are single mothers or people who are currently experiencing or have experienced homelessness, come from their partners at Street Sense. Every Thursday morning a group meets at the Church of the Epiphany to decorate coffee mugs. They guess that they have had 30 people come through since their inception.

District Mugs aims to teach their clients not only about art, but business and self-sufficiency. Their goal is to provide people the resources to be able to run a small company of their own. Along the way they are making new friends, developing a creative outlet, and increasing their monthly income.

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Try works with Reggie to perfect his most recent mug set. Photo by Yasser Osafat

The team paints mugs for holidays and corporate orders; however, between these special occasions they experiment with new ideas and techniques. Shreya and Courtney remember how the clients were hesitant at first to get creative. However, when I visited, I sensed no hesitation, but eagerness to test their capabilities and pride in their accomplishments. They looked to one another for suggestions and encouragement, and a couple of them were even hard at work on mugs they can sell as a set.

Mugs go for a suggested donation of $10. District Mugs keeps $1.50 to go towards purchasing more supplies, and the rest of the sale goes to the artist. This encourages them to hone their skills and make even more mugs!

The nonprofit wants to expand eventually – designing more than coffee mugs and meeting more than once a week. But for now, I would say the work they are doing is extremely impressive.

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Sheila beginning her next polka-dot project. Photo by Yasser Osafat

If you’re interested in purchasing a mug, you can do so at Purposeful Purchases. District Mugs also hosts pop-ups – previous ones held at Pottery Barn, Mellow Mushroom, West Elm, and Lava Barre. Be sure to follow their Instagram page to stay up to date on where they’ll be next!

Take a look below at some of the beautiful mugs these artists have created! And please join me in saluting District Mugs who is changing the lives of DC’s single mothers, homeless, and formerly homeless, one mug at a time.

Keep caffeinated,

Lauren