Croissants and Cortados

People often ask us what our favorite cafe is. It’s hard to say, because there are so many elements that go into making a cafe special. Some of the top contenders though for me (Daniëlle), are coffee (obviously), seating options, and pastry selection.

Sometimes I look forward to that cortado like nobody’s business, I can almost taste it on my way to a cafe. That first sip can turn my day around.

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I grew up in Europe so my standards for a croissant are extremely high (at 7-Elevens in Sweden, for example, croissants are baked on the premises each morning. No individually-bagged, week-old dry croissants, even at the corner store). I love being able to pull the flaky layers apart one by one, savoring each buttery bite.

And seating, that’s an obvious choice. If I want my coffee to go, I generally just make some at home. If I can afford the luxury of time, I love to linger and sink into a seat at a cafe and stay a while. People-watch, read the local section of the paper, get some work done in the company of others.

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Great coffee, a comfortable place to sit, and a soft croissant.

When those three ‘needs’ are met, you will likely see me time and again, getting lost in a good book or catching up with a friend.

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[Point of clarification: There are certain pastry flavors (think blueberry or cinnamon) that can really complement coffee, but more often than not I go with a simple savory bite – I relish the occasional sweet treat but I also like to stay balanced and not waste my workouts 🙂 Plus, Lauren and I are suckers for alliteration so croissants and cortados were the obvious choice!]

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Do you have your favorite pastry vendors and their partner cafes memorized like I do? What is your perfect trifecta and where do you find it?

Stay grounded,

Daniëlle

Coffee with a Cause

Sitting at Bourbon Coffee I am inspired by coffee with a cause. Lauren and I wanted to highlight a few cafes that serve a greater purpose and no better place to start than here!

BOURBON COFFEE

Bourbon Coffee sources all of their beans directly from farms in Rwanda where they have direct trade relationships. I recently learned that most African coffee farming is much different than what you read about in Central and South America, for example, as African coffee farms tend to be much smaller and run alongside other agriculture to feed the families of the farmers. Due to this, most African coffees are sourced through cooperatives and other partnerships.

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Bourbon Coffee

Bourbon Coffee buys coffee only directly from farmers and coops, eliminating any middlemen and therefore allowing their farmers to receive more than 25% of the fair trade price for their coffee. They have built relationships with their farmers and coops boasting transparency and fairness.

This also empowers African coffee farmers to participate directly in the global marketplace and increase their economic development. It’s no coincidence that Bourbon’s first US location is in Foggy Bottom not too far from the Peace Corps, USAID, and other humanitarian organizations.

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Story behind the cup at Bourbon Coffee

EBENEZER COFFEEHOUSE

Ebenezer Coffeehouse is owned and operated by National Community Church and all their proceeds go back into community outreach programs. They are actively involved in building DC through their many locations and projects.

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Inviting space at Ebenezer’s Coffeehouse

They are located near Union Station and have that vibe of giving travelers rest in a warm and inviting space.

Furthermore they serve One Village Coffee from Pennsylvania. They source only fair trade coffees and donate $1 of every Artist Blend coffee back to the COMSA Coop in Honduras to build bee colonies. They also donate coffee to homeless programs in Philadelphia.

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Ebenezers Coffeehouse

THE POTTER’S HOUSE

The Potter’s House is a 100% non-profit cafe that was formed during the 1960s to create an inclusive environment for everyone. They promote activism, the arts, and community development.

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Books, cards, art, and coffee at the Potter’s House

They have a ‘pay what you can’ soup program and a ‘pay it forward’ coffee program where you can buy someone else a cup of coffee. They host community events and are also environmentally conscious, using solar energy, sensor technology, and a compost program for food scraps.

Not that they can have too many because their food is delicious and the atmosphere terrific!

DOGTAG BAKERY

We highlighted Dogtag Bakery during Veterans Day so we’ll keep it short, but we think it’s pretty cool that 100% of their profits go back into their fellowship program to help entrepreneurial veterans.

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Dog Tag Bakery

What are some other cafes that you like to go to because of their mission (and great coffee of course)?

Stay grounded,

Daniëlle

Sneak Peek of Swing’s Coffee

It’s a busy time for the folks at Swing’s Coffee Roasters.

CEO Mark Warmuth and new store manager Alex Farewell-Prisaznuk hold the fort in Washington DC, working with DCRA (Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs) to get final permits approved for the latest installment of Swings Coffee. They are just days away from opening their third location at 640 14th Street NW, in the same building as the Hamilton Hotel and Old Ebbitts Grill. (Their G Street location will re-open after building construction is complete).

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Teaser window coverings at 640 14th St NW

 

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Beautifully designed bar at Swing’s Coffee

Meanwhile Director of Coffee Operations, Neil Balkom, is on his way to Knoxville for CoffeeChamps, a qualifying event for the US Coffee Championships, where he is taking a team of baristas and also judging in the competitions. Following the event he is heading to the coffee triangle of Colombia to delve deeper into the world of decaf coffees processing. Neil admires decaf drinkers for their dedication to drinking coffee purely for the flavor and enjoyment of it, not to merely transport caffeine, and therefore takes it upon himself to find the very best decaf coffee available.

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Two of the many coffees available at Swing’s

At Swings’ new storefront you can expect the same quality and service you’re receiving at their Del Ray location: ethically sourced coffee through draft lattes, five single origin pour over options, and that carefully selected decaf. They will offer Junction Bakery pastries and are still working with a few other vendors to nail down more treat options.

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The pastry case that will soon be filled with scrumptious baked goods
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3-group La Marzocco espresso machine

CORE architecture + design, inc. (CORE) of Georgetown designed the space that used to be a tobacconist (CORE is the creative brain behind Rare Sweets and District Doughnut, among many other DC favorites). They worked with a marble/brass/black theme and the high ceilings really make that marble pop. Blending the artistically sleek design is a attention-grabbing copper Victoria Arduino lever espresso machine that complements the La Marzocco and Poursteady working the main bar. Combining all that with a Pentair Everpure filtration system, Swing’s Coffee is determined to bring you the best balanced coffee in the District.

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Black, marble and brass complement each other at Swing’s
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The aesthetically pleasing Victoria Arduino lever espresso machine
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Coffee Director Neil pulling a honey-processed Java espresso shot

While I was canvassing the new space Neil served a honey processed Java espresso made with the Victoria Arduino and its aroma and flavor hinted at biscotti. The machine is quiet and artful. We followed it with a shot of their 4 Mile espresso blend, which was spicy and citrusy. We are looking forward to going back soon to try their draft latte and milk based espresso drinks, which we plan to consume while we linger in their Parisian brasserie style seating against the wall.

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Owner Mark Warmuth and cafe manager Alex Farewell-Prisaznuk working out details of the new Swing’s Coffee

Stay tuned for exact dates: they aim to welcome customers the first week of February in a soft-open capacity with reduced hours while they get their new staff up to speed, with a hard opening towards the end of that week.   

UPDATE: Swing’s Coffee is NOW OPEN at 640 14th St NW, Washington DC.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Stay grounded,

Daniëlle

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Sweet or Savory Treat?

I used to have a pretty sizable selective sweet tooth. Selective? I’m not big into candy, but dessert was my favorite meal of the day and I really didn’t drink coffee unless I had a cookie or pastry along with it (I drink my coffee black). But it had to be a good pastry.

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I also enjoy being in shape, however, and I realized that I would never quite reach my goals unless I worked on my nutrition so I started cutting back on the treats. Much to my amazement, my cravings for sweets have actually subsided to the point where I would be comfortable saying I don’t have a sweet tooth, and I can handle a fancy dinner without dessert (unless there’s a flourless chocolate cake on the menu. Then all bets are off). And I’m talking long term – it’s been a few years since I followed the nutrition plan that curbed the sweets (I still enjoy sweets but no longer crave them).

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So many sweet and savory options at Bakery 350

But I still like that pastry with my coffee – my go-to is a plain croissant. But remember “selective?” Not any old croissant will do. So lately I have been branching out and I’m excited where it has led me.

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The go-to croissant at Ceremony Coffee

First there is the classic cheddar and chive biscuit (sometimes with bacon). A silky quiche pairs nicely with a pour over as well. Then there is a rosemary scone – loved what that did to the flavors of my coffee, very surprising. And Kolaches. How about a play on savory AND sweet? The thyme shortbread cookie.

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Cheddar and chive biscuit at Qualia Coffee
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Thyme shortbread cookie at Pineapple and Pearls
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BOG quiche (bacon, onion, gruyere) at Killer ESP

I do caution anyone pairing something spicy with their coffee. Spicy messes with your tongue and you really lose the nuances of the coffee, so be wary of the cayenne chocolate treats.

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Spicy Raaka chocolate
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Kolaches at Vigilante

I’m probably to the point now where I seek out the savory at cafes and I’m disappointed when they only serve sweet. So please share: what are some of your favorite savory pairings? What sweets do I need to make an exception for?

Stay grounded,

Daniëlle

Veterans Day: Dog Tag Bakery

It’s Veterans Day! A day off work. A long weekend. A day to celebrate those who have served. There are so many veterans who continue to serve in Washington DC in different capacities – some by supplying us with wonderful food and drink 🙂

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Decadent tarts at Dog Tag Bakery

One business that supports veterans in everything they do is Dog Tag Bakery in Georgetown. Not only do they provide Georgetown (and the rest of us more than willing to head over) with handcrafted and fresh baked goods and coffee, they are also an entire business program to empower disabled veterans, their spouses, and caregivers.

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Bright space at Dog Tag Bakery

The bakery is a bright open space with patriotic decorations and they sell all kinds of goods created by veterans. They are so supportive, in fact, that even the compost in their flower beds comes from a veteran-owned farm. The entire shop (and upstairs workspace) is ADA (American Disabilities Act) friendly with a sliding glass door and specially-built elevator in the historic rowhouse.

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Goods created by veteran-owned businesses

Dog Tag Bakery was founded by a Jesuit priest who was active in helping veterans after they left the military (and who was disabled himself), and a woman who ran a bakery for disadvantaged women. They combined their vision and missions to start up the bakery that includes a business fellowship for veterans and their families.

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Bakery to support fellowship program

The fellowship is five months long and includes business classes at The Georgetown University (graduates receive a certificate from there), and also speaker sessions with “entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, and CEOs representing the full spectrum of private and public sector.”

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Treats made by veterans

Because it is a bakery and business, the fellows gain invaluable knowledge through “experiential learning.” They learn about operations, staff management, marketing and much more. You can often see the fellows at work when you stop by for some frittata, interviewing a new employee for example.

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hand-crafted croissants at Dog Tag Bakery

If you are a qualified veteran, spouse or caregiver, take a look at their website to find out more about the fellowship. They are currently accepting applications for their July 2017 class!

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Coffee, chocolate, and gift packages by veteran-owned businesses

In the meantime, head over to the bakery TODAY for a showcasing of 12 veteran-owned businesses from 11-2 pm. Complimentary treats! And always stop in there when you’re in the area and support a vet 🙂

Have you been to Dog Tag Bakery? Tell us about your experiences!

Stay grounded,

Daniëlle