Meet the Café on Wheels

Today’s post is by guest writer Susannah Winters of Wheelys Cafe DC. For those who are unfamiliar with Wheelys, allow Susannah to share her story. She and her husband are the embodiment of the Walt Disney quote “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

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Before my husband and I met each other we both separately had dreams of owning a cafe. We wanted it to be a community hub with open mic nights and local art featured on the walls. We loved coffee and loved the idea. What we didn’t love was the idea of having a brick and mortar. Something about it felt like too much and wasn’t for us. Maybe because we both like the freedom to pick up and move on a whim.

Years later, after my husband had been in real estate for years and I worked for Lululemon for almost a decade, we decided it was time to do something different. I was on maternity leave when my husband approached me with the idea of buying a coffee cart bicycle…specifically, a Wheelys Cafe franchise. We have biked together since we met, whether it was beach cruiser pub crawls in San Diego (where we lived) or training for a ½ ironmans…so he sold me on the idea pretty easy. We packed up our toddler and two dogs, sold our house, I got a job transfer, and we made the move from San Diego to DC.

We chose DC because we wanted a densely populated area that loved coffee ✓ and bikes ✓. And boy does DC love their coffee and bikes!

Our mission is to inspire more people to ride bikes while serving the best cup of coffee possible off of a bike. We are committed to supporting local small businesses and creating an engaging and thoughtful experience for our customers.

Being pedal and solar powered makes us one of the most eco friendly cafes in the world. As we expand, our goal is to stay as eco friendly as possible by restocking our cafes by cargo bicycle (yuba El Mundo V5).

We became operational about 6 weeks ago and we’ve found quality partners since our launch. We’ve fallen in love with both Zeke’s Coffee Roasters and Swings Coffee and serve both from our bike. We hand pour every cup which is infused with love, because we believe it makes a difference. We also serve District Doughnuts, our newest partner.

Since our move to DC we’ve fallen hard for DC’s spacious bike lanes and plethora of coffee roasters and micro roasters. The coffee scene here easily rivals San Diego (although the craft beer scene needs work ← our other love).

We’ve been serving on the corner of 9th St.  North and North Stuart Street in Arlington (in front of Dunkin Donuts), and we will be moving to another Arlington location in a few weeks. It’s a mini victory for us when we convert a Dunkin Donut’s customer to a fan of locally roasted organic coffee. You can always find our location on our insta @wheelyscafedc.

We also do weddings and events!

We are looking for permanent spots in DC proper. The beauty of being on a bike is we can fit most places! If you or someone you know wants a pedal powered cafe to serve up some deliciousness, shoot us a note on Instagram.

Huge thank you to Lauren for inviting me to write a guest blog on District of Coffee! I’m thrilled for the opportunity to share about Wheelys Cafe DC!

Written by Susannah Winters, Owner & Chief Culture Officer of Wheelys Cafe DC

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Qualia Opens Second Location

Today Qualia Coffee opens its second location in The Gale Eckington. We’ve been looking forward to this for a while now. As you know, we are fans of Qualia – they were our first roaster of the month back in August 2016. However, as long as we’ve been looking forward this this, owner Joel Finkelstein has been anticipating opening a second location for many years. It just took some time to find the perfect location.

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No longer coming soon…it’s here!

I had the pleasure of meeting up with Joel yesterday morning and scoping out the new digs. The space is a lot brighter and more open than the Petworth location but with less seating. The Poursteady pour-over machine is the first thing you see when you walk in the doors. Forgoing a typical register and opting for several tablets instead, the experience for each customer is aimed to be a bit more personal.

Qualia specializes in single-origins, and while their espresso drinks are always solid, I’d recommend ordering a pour-over. Yesterday I tried a Nicaraguan that really hit the spot, and they currently offer a special Yemen that is next on my list (if it doesn’t run out!). This location will also provide coffee already brewed for those on the run with batches brewed 1 liter at a time (as opposed to 3 or 5), ensuring the coffee is as fresh as possible.

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Mesmerized by the Poursteady as it prepares my Nicaraguan pour-over

I can’t help but be excited for the neighborhood of Eckington and envy those who reside in The Gale. So you don’t have trouble finding the new shop, it’s not on Q Street which is the address of The Gale, but more on the corner of Eckington Place and Harry Thomas Way. For their first week of operations, they will be open 7am-1pm, extending their hours once all training is complete.

Congratulations to our friends at Qualia! Let us know what you think of their newest adventure!

Keep caffeinated,

Lauren

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Blue Bottle Opens First DC Store

West Coast favorite Blue Bottle Coffee has slowly made its way over to the East Coast, first settling in NYC before embarking on our nation’s capital. DC’s first Blue Bottle location is set to open in Georgetown this Sunday, July 9th. Off the beaten path, this hip new shop is down Potomac, a little beside and behind Dean & DeLuca. Take a look at some pictures from their Friends and Family preview.

This Louisiana girl definitely recommends the New Orleans iced coffee! It’s cold-brewed with roasted chicory and sweetened with organic cane sugar, and I couldn’t drink mine fast enough!

Two more locations are set to open in DC over the next year, Union Market being the next. Blue Bottle also offers coffee subscriptions for those of you who find it just too difficult to make it down to Georgetown right now.

Are you excited to have Blue Bottle in DC? Sound off in the comments!

Keep caffeinated,

Lauren

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