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

Travel Tuesday: San Fransisco Bay Area

Earlier this month, I made a long-overdue trip to visit one of my best friends in Berkeley. I had traveled there several years back, but that was well before my constantly-caffeinated days. I researched. I strategized. I asked for recommendations. What I learned was that the coffee scene in the Bay Area has a lot to offer, and there’s no way you can tackle it all in one visit. However, you can’t say I didn’t try…

Artis Coffee

This was my first stop for coffee once landing in the Bay Area. Located in Berkeley, Artis provides a friendly open space with large windows and sleek furniture. I brought a book to read with me but was easily distracted by the live brew bar where you can sit up close and become engaged in the process as well as the roasting beans in the background. They had many pour-over options, so I asked the barista what he recommended that wasn’t an Ethiopian (warning: this trip is very pour-over-heavy). He suggested the Brazilian, and it did not disappoint, setting the bar high for the rest of my visit. If you can’t make it out to the Bay Area, don’t worry – Artis also has a location in Bangkok!

Highwire Coffee Roasters

Another Berkeley cafe, I stopped in for coffee and a bagel before making my way to the city. I ordered the howling wolf, aka nitro cold brew, and despite one man inquiring why I was drinking beer at 10am (cue outward awkward laugh and inner eye roll), it was delicious. The place, which includes a back patio, was bustling with people studying, catching up, or just grabbing a cup of coffee before heading to work for the day. A panini shop, Cafe Crosta, had also opened in their space just days prior to my visit. Supposedly they will begin focusing on the food so that Highwire can go back to focusing more on their coffee.

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Not a beer, but a yummy nitro cold brew.

Four Barrel Coffee

This was the one place that people consistently told me I had to visit while in San Fransisco. I was thinking about ordering a latte, but when I noticed the slow bar, I quickly changed my mind. There were six options available for pour-overs – three from Ethiopia – and these options rotate weekly. I chose *surprise* one of the Ethiopians and chatted with my barista about their beans and the somewhat isolated slow bar. “It’s like they’re Africa, and I’m Madagascar,” nodding his head first in the general direction of the other coffee station and then back to me. He offered me a small chocolate cookie from a local bakery while I waited and admired the art on the walls, a new installation called “Let My People Lego” by Elbe Spurling. I enjoyed my drink perched in the window while people watching and day dreaming about what West Coast life would look like for me.

Ritual Coffee Roasters

Ritual has several locations in San Fransisco, but the one I visited in Hayes Valley was not what I was expecting. It was the tiniest shop just popped up in the middle of a square. The structure of the place (I think it might have been a shipping container?) as well as their use of this bold bright red color drew me in, and I sat outside watching people go in and out while a man played guitar nearby. It seemed that the majority of people popped in for a quick espresso, though a few ended up hanging around for a while. I quickly realized why people might call this the “hipster” location, though no one seemed “too cool for school” (do people still say that?). After a little while I ordered a cold brew to accompany me as I walked to my next location.

Sightglass Coffee

Sightglass has three locations (one more coming soon) of which to choose from, and I went with the flagship location in the SOMA District. It was huge with seating downstairs and upstairs, and a giant roaster in the midst of it all. I placed an order for a Kenyan pour-over and was directed towards the young man who would be preparing my drink. I appreciated watching my drink crafted from start to finish and enjoyed how the baristas took each order one at a time, though there were plenty of friendly baristas so no one had to wait long. Something I unfortunately learned after my visit is that they have an affogato bar upstairs! How freaking cool is that?! Obviously my research wasn’t as thorough as I thought, but more obviously, I must go back.

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Things are non-stop at the Sightglass flagship location.

Wreckingball Coffee Roasters

So this cafe was the one I was most excited about, and for a completely geeky reason: one of the owners of this shop is the person who coined the term “third wave” coffee. Located in the Cow Hollow neighborhood, the cafe was smaller than I expected but with fun pineapple wallpaper and several areas for seating. The friend I was visiting tagged along for this venture following a walking tour of the Castro. He has only recently become a coffee drinker, and he always orders a vanilla latte; however, Wreckingball didn’t offer any flavors, so he went with a little simple syrup…and he said it was the best latte he’s ever had! There were two pour-over options (I know, so many pour-overs! I’m sorry!), and of course I went with the fruity Ethiopian. As my drink was being prepared, the barista humored me by walking my friend through the whole process, from the proportions to the bloom. I think my friend also humored me by acting interested. However, I was too busy coffee fangirling to really care.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to visit all the shops on my list, like female-owned Scarlet City in Oakland or the famous Blue Bottle (my logic for this was that we will soon have one in Georgetown, though I know it won’t be the same as going to the original). I tried stopping by Verve Coffee Roasters, but they happened to be closed the afternoon I made it out there, giving me a good excuse to go back soon.

I left my heart in San Fransisco, along with a long list of coffee shops to visit on my next trip! Any recommendations?

Keep caffeinated,

Lauren

P.S.- On a non-coffee-related note, macaroni & cheese might be my favorite food, and there is a restaurant in Oakland called Homeroom that’s all about the mac & cheese that you must visit if you’re anything like me! You’ll thank me later 😉

Neighborhood Crawl: Union Station

When Lauren and I first began collaborating about this blog, one of the topics we were so excited about were Neighborhood Cafe Crawls. With so many fantastic neighborhoods in Washington DC, it was always hard to pinpoint where to start. Then it occurred to me that a great place to start would be where many start their time in DC: Union Station.

While not necessarily a mecca for specialty coffee, we’re here to celebrate coffee AND the District, so read on for how to fill a few hours doing both.

1- Start out at Ebenezer’s with a vanilla rose latte. Feel good about your purchase as their proceeds go directly back into the community, and enjoy a relaxing setting with a book or a friends and some people watching.

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2 – Head over to Union Station and admire the newly rejuvenated main hall. The station celebrates its 110 year-birthday this year, and some original building material can be found in the antique train gates in the Train Concourse. Enjoy some shopping in the bustle as you admire the 36 Roman Legionnaires watching over the main hall.

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3- Pay a visit to the underrated Smithsonian Postal Museum. Even if you don’t have time to go into the atrium with a 90-foot-high ceiling to see the 1851 stagecoach and 1931 Model-T mail truck, you’ll be glad you stepped in just to take in the magnificent historic City Post Office Building that was constructed in 1914. (PS – It’s a Smithsonian Museum so it’s FREE!)

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4- Walk east on the outside of Union Station this time and admire the Capitol Building from directly in front of the train station. The arches on the south side of Union Station are magnificent, and the Capital peeking through the flagpoles is breathtaking.

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5- By now you’re parched for more coffee so head over to Union Kitchen Grocery where you an pick up a handcrafted Compass Coffee espresso drink, and a few bags of  fresh coffee to take home from one of the many local roasters sold there.

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{Disclaimer: Technically not a neighborhood, Union Station is actually in NoMa (North of Massachusetts), which to many DCers implies H St NE.}

TIP: If you’re traveling by car we hope you’re lucky to find some parking near Ebenezer’s and UKG- otherwise park at Union Station and have your ticket validated at the machine before walking back out to the garage. It’ll get you two hours for $6.

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Where else do you like to stop in while near Union Station?

Stay grounded,

Daniëlle

 

Home for the Holidays

The holidays are finally here, and I for one couldn’t be more excited!

I write this to you from Shreveport, LA, as I have headed home to spend Christmas with family and friends. Seeing as I now rarely get to visit my hometown (what with a grownup job and all), my schedule when I do make the trip is always jam packed with lunches, happy hours, and coffee dates. As previously mentioned, my hometown doesn’t have much to offer in the way of specialty coffee. However, we do have Rhino Coffee which opened up my senior year of college. I love meeting friends for a cappuccino on their front patio or snuggling up in the back room with a book. The baristas are always welcoming, the coffee always fresh, and the atmosphere always comforting.

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DC fashion blogger @cobaltchronicles is also from Shreveport and often frequents Rhino when she is home.

On my @caffeinatethecapital Instagram page, I recently asked people to name their favorite hometown coffee shop and explain why they love it. I received many responses – from California to North Carolina, one even in Hungary! Below I highlight several of your hometown faves.

East Coast

Let’s move from East to West, shall we? If you’re from the tri-state area, Kahve in NYC or Boxwood Coffee in Summit, NJ, might be your go-to’s while home. And I hear Ragged Edge Coffee House in Gettysburg, PA, has become a staple for locals and tourists alike.

“Not only has great coffee and great food, but their giant glass windows make it easy to people watch while enjoying both!” -@stylishlytaylored on Prince Street Cafe in Lancaster, PA

South

I was excited to see someone mention their favorite hometown coffee shop being Cups in Jackson, MS, simply because it’s the only one of the coffee shops mentioned outside of the DMV that I’ve actually been to. A number of people who participated are from North Carolina, naming Talia Espresso, Anchor Coffee Co., Camino Bakery, and Crema Coffee and Bakery as their hometown faves.

“Amazing staff with amazing coffee and pastries. Can’t wait to have some for the holidays and pretty much every day until we leave.” -@liz_1105 on Theory Coffee Co. in San Antonio, TX

Midwest/West

Unfortunately, I know very little about this area of the country. However, by looking at the responses on Instagram, the Midwest has a lot to offer coffee-wise. If you’re from Iowa, maybe you like to frequent The Old Factory Coffee Shop or Smokey Row Coffee. If you’re from Michigan, maybe it’s Roast and Toast Cafe or State Street Coffee.

“They roast and brew their own coffee locally! Plus both their cafe locations are absolutely beautiful and perfect for an Instagram photo or two.” -@honnofor on Boxcar Coffee Roasters in Denver, CO

West Coast

The West Coast is in some way the coffee mecca of the United States. Seattle and Portland are both huge on the coffee scene. However, according to you guys, California also serves up some competition with Lavendar & Honey Espresso Bar in Pasadena and A’Roma Roasters in Santa Rosa.

“Sister owned ChadLou’s is the most amazing small coffee shop. You can smell the ocean, and it’s the best place to curl up with a book.” -@ashworthashley on ChadLou’s Coffee Roasters in Kailua, HI

Local

I admittedly often forget that for many, the DMV is home. And so, for those of you that are local, some of the hometown favorites are Vigilante Coffee, Java Shack, Bourbon Coffee, and Killer ESP.

“Not only can you get a great coffee, but you also support a great community mission!” -@ad2dc on The Potter’s House in Washington, DC

International

Two international coffee shops that were given a shout out were Camden Coffee House in London and Espresso Embassy in Budapest. Considering both of these cities are on my hopefully-soon-to-visit list of destinations, I am keeping these cafes in mind for my future travels.

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Rhino Coffee is all lit up for the holidays

It’s only been 24 hours, and I’ve already hit up Rhino once… Whether you are home for the holidays or not, I hope everyone is celebrating the holidays with a hot cup of coffee and people they love!

Keep caffeinated,

Lauren

 

Election Day: Vote Chocolate!

It’s Election Day, go vote! Then read this blogpost. (Or read it while standing in line :))

I (Danielle) am an Army Veteran (and the family tree of other service members is almost freakish), so with Veteran’s Day right around the corner I convinced Lauren to run with a Veteran theme for the week. Where to start?

Vote Chocolate!

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Our first stop was at Harper Macaw, craft chocolatiers:  Half of the partnership consists of a Marine Corps vet, Colin, and the other half is his wife Sarah, a Brazilian culinary goddess (we haven’t actually met but I’m convinced she’s a goddess). Yep, this is a coffee blog, but we’ve mentioned before that craft chocolate is really not far removed. 

Our interview starts a little late because Colin was delivering bulk chocolate to Little Red Fox across town – they are going to be using it in their craft mochas and drinking chocolate. Local supporting local! I didn’t mind waiting, as I was offered a choice between Zeke’s brewed coffee and a nitro cold brew from Confluence Coffee Co. that incorporates Harper Macaw cocoa nibs.

{Confluence Coffee Co. is an “experimental coffee company focusing on pushing the boundaries of sensory experience.” They’re based in Richmond VA and use Blanchard’s coffee. The Mocha cold brew has three ingredients: organic fair-trade Honduran coffee, water, and those direct trade Brazilian cocoa nibs.}

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Mocha Nitro Cold Brew Kegorator at the factory

Their office space is open and welcoming – really the kind of place where you’d want to come to work (again, that nitro cold brew kegorator helps..) They are open on weekends for shopping and tours (another plus is that they’re next to the DC Brau factory – more kegs!)

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Made in DC – Shop Local!

Along one wall is a map of Brazil – it’s where they source all their chocolate from, and that’s where we start our visit.

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Colin showing me the different estates where they source their cocoa beans.

They source all of their chocolate through direct trade. “Our producers are at the avant-garde of cacao agroforestry, with crop maintenance and pre and post-harvest practices that not only yield tremendous quality but are both environmentally and economically sustainable.” That’s a mission we can get behind!

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Bags and bags of beans!

 

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Large factory in NE

 

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You see what they did here with the “M”en’s and “W”omen’s bathrooms?

The factory is large, and it is obvious that Colin and Sarah have big plans for their business – their space is one they will grow into. Once they invent scratch-and-sniff smart-phones I’ll add the cocoa scent into this blogpost – the tour was delightfully cocoa fragranced!

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Open factory, room for expansion.

Part of the conservation efforts includes paying workers better wages and offering better working conditions. Harper Macaw pays 2-3 times the commodity rate for their cocoa beans. They purchase fine flavor cocoa beans that are genetically superior to your average bean, and they use natural fermentation processes. Their staff consists of people in food science and culinary fields. Making their unique craft bars includes a ten-step manufacturing method is a labor intensive process and this hard work and diligence to producing the best chocolate is reflected in each bar.

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Cocoa beans as they arrive at the factory
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Perfectly tempered and molded chocolate

Their chocolate can be found all over the DMV area, and quite a few coffeeshops offer their bars. Good news if you have a hard time spending more on the chocolate than you do your coffee: they are about to release a single-serving bar that will perfectly accompany your afternoon pick-me-up.

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Mini bars coming to a coffee shop near you!

[Speaking of $$. Allow me to speak (write!) candidly for a moment. Colin can see that it can be difficult to consider buying their chocolate as it is on the pricier end of the spectrum. Unlike specialty coffee that is maybe twice as expensive as what you find at your corner store, craft chocolate can be four or even eight times more expensive than a grocery store candy bar. He hopes people will choose for their quality, fine flavor, and fair and personal relationships with the farmers. Good quality craft chocolate bars are not candy and they’re so rich and decadent that they are not meant to be consumed in a single sitting. Another friend once told me when I had a hard time justifying the expense of craft chocolate to consider what we spend on dessert after a nice meal at a restaurant. $9 to savor a delightful and ethically made chocolate bar doesn’t seem so bad in this light.]

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VOTE CHOCOLATE

The folks at Harper Macaw partner with DC graphic design company Design Army for their beautiful packaging ideas and their marketing. When they went looking for something incredibly DC oriented, Vote Chocolate came about, perfect during election year.

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The VIPs of election year

The names of the bars correspond with the unique flavorings: Red State has strawberry and raspberry, for example, whereas the Filibuster bar has pretzels and peanuts throughout. Of course I asked Colin if certain bars sold better than others, depending on the party affiliation. The Flip Flopper (milk chocolate with butter toffee and sea salt) has been their best seller whereas the Tea Party (sprinkled with Early Grey tea) has performed least favorably. The funny thing? In blind tastings (like at the wildly popular pop-up at Union Market in July) the Tea Party bar was the biggest hit.

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Earl Grey Tea Party Chocolate
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Setting up my own blind tasting for an election party.

Vote Chocolate has been a fun and whimsical campaign for Harper Macaw, all the while highlighting the uniqueness of DC (one bar is Taxation without Representation: dark chocolate with cocoa nibs) and also bringing light to their efforts of conservation in the Brazilian rain forest.

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I asked about what happens after the election. They will continue producing the bars until they complete all their Vote Chocolate packaging, and then they will turn on the creative processes again and come up with something new. With their educated staff, quality fine chocolate, brilliant partners like Design Army, and enthusiastic and loyal clients/customers/consumers, we are confident and excited to see what they will come up with next!

PS – Have you tried their chocolate? Which bar has YOUR vote? Sound off!

[Tune in to two more Veteran themed posts Friday and next Tuesday.]

Stay grounded,

Daniëlle

Coffee in Charm City

Editor’s Note: We are thrilled to feature our first guest writer on District of Coffee! We’ve been following Leandro for as long as we’ve been into DMV Coffee and he did not disappoint on this thorough coverage of Baltimore Coffee (honestly we’re thinking of submitting it to Lonely Planet – it is certainly travel guide worthy)! For more witty writing, perfected restaurant/dinner photos, and the best food finds in the DMV see @foodnomad on Instagram / Twitter and on his blog. Enjoy his myriad of pictures and tried and tested Charm City finds!

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Coffee Cocktails at Ceremony Coffee

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Lauren and Danielle at District of Coffee asked me to write about which four or five coffee shops I would recommend in Charm City, maybe even pick them close enough together for a coffee bang-bang. I’m far from a coffee expert but I have been to my fair share of coffee shops and coffee is an essential part of my life. So, if volume of consumption and an addiction count for anything then they’ve come to the right place.

Yet I couldn’t pick four or five because I see Baltimore in somewhat of a coffee transition/revolution. Huh? Patience, grasshopper, patience. I couldn’t pick just four or five shops because, to me, Baltimore has three types of coffee shops: The OG’s (Original Gangstas), Neighborhood Nooks, and New Coffee.

Just some parameters first. I limited the scope to places close (well, close enough) to work which is right downtown. I didn’t choose any national chains, and my go-to drink is a latte, so when I’m referring to coffee, I’m generally talking about a latte. Alright, let’s do this…

The OG’s     

I’ve always thought of Baltimore as the biggest little small town in the country. It’s intimate, it seems like everyone knows each other or at least knows someone who knows you and yours, and it’s proud of all things Baltimore. That’s how I view the first set of coffee shops. They’re like the crab cakes of the group. They’re delicious, they’re not overly complicated and they are definitely proudly Baltimore. All these places serve no-frills, unabashed coffee that screams out “Hon!” They’ve also been around for a little bit and thus ingrained in the fabric of B’more.

The king of Old School is Cafe Latte’ Da in Fells Point with a small, narrow storefront a few blocks up from the water away from most of the foot traffic. The decor reminds you of a John Waters movie, and when you walk out with a signature pink cup, people will know where you got your joe.

Down by the water is The Daily Grind which continues to dole out classic coffee despite the gentrifying landscape. When you walk in here, the coffee shop opens up into an whole new cityscape reminiscent of an early 1900’s alleyway. The variety of ways they make coffee here is plentiful, so make sure you know what you want before you walk in.

Hopping over to Federal Hill, you’ll find Spoons Cafe & Coffee Roasters smack dab in the middle of Cross Street. Spoons has been serving morning-after cures for residents for a few years now and is one of the few places that serves matcha in the city. They also offer a pretty decadent menu full of comfort food classics.

Drive down Key Highway for a bit and Koba Cafe is another place that has become a Riverside neighborhood institution. They serve some great breakfast staples along with a super cup of coffee. The inside is eclectic and the vibe would make any Baltimore row house denizen proud.

The most famous of the OG’s may be Zeke’s Coffee which may power half the restaurants in Baltimore and has grown into DC and Pittsburgh. Their first cafe is a little northeast of downtown in a hip community called Lauraville. The baristas all seem to have some B’more kook and style. The coffee is strong and flavorful just as you’d expect from Baltimore, hon. Go early and be patient, the crowd doesn’t let up in this gem.

Did it for the Nooky

There’s probably some overlap with these next few coffee shops and the OG’s. But, to me, these shops are a bit more than a coffee shop. They fulfill a nook or a niche for their neighborhood or have an identity that is closely tied to their location or a particular theme. These shops are also a little bit more concerned about their coffee stylings and like to make their cup not only strong but also pretty. It’s a mix of old and new, but all of them definitely have formed a distinct identity.

Spro Coffee in Hampden starts us off on our trip through the nooks. Spro is a little sliver of a coffee shop right on the Avenue that is reflective of the hip, creative, intellectually curious identity that Hampden evokes. The team is diligent about finding the best beans around the world and building strong relationships with the farmers they source from, and they’re curious about the various ways coffee can be prepared and enjoyed.

Drive down 83 a bit and you’ll run into Park Cafe & Coffee Bar and On the Hill Cafe. Both are within a couple blocks of each other and serve the artsy community fostered by MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) nearby. Park seems like the more sophisticated and refined sibling as evidenced by it’s sublime coffee art and well-curated food. On the Hill is the more ebullient and blue collar member of the family with no frills coffee and hearty comfort food on its menu.

Just a little ways from them is Dovecote Cafe, located on a sleepy tree-lined residential street near Druid HIll Park. They don’t serve espresso drinks but serve some slamming Brewklyn coffee and some of the best homemade pastries in town. Dovecote celebrates the best of Baltimore’s African American heritage and every month it helps promote a local chef by letting them take over their kitchen.

Moving on down to Mount Vernon, you’ll find Baby’s On Fire, named after a Brian Eno song, that doubles as a record shop. They use Stumptown for their coffee and their pastry game is as strong as Dovecote’s. If roadies ever opened up a refined espresso cafe, this is what you’d get.

A little bit down Saint Paul’s is The Room which doubles as a coffee shop by day and a bar by night. The multi-colored ceiling will take your breath away while the coffee will keep you coming back. I love that the tables are also chess boards, and I’m a big fan of places that pour their coffee in clear mugs.

Down in Federal Hill is 3 Bean Coffee. If ever a coffee shop is reflective of its neighborhood, it’s 3 Bean. Beautiful exposed brick in an industrial space. It even has a refurbished farm door. 3 bean is right at the base (close enough!) of Federal Hill itself with a great view of the Inner Harbor. The coffee is from Counter Culture and the craftsmanship is spot on. It’s also my go-to place for a matcha latte, cold or hot. 3 Bean isn’t necessarily what Baltimore is right now but it sure is what Baltimore is becoming, at least in terms of food & caffeine.

Neo-Con…Um..Neo-Coff…

The final stops in the great Baltimore Coffee Tour of 2016 are what I consider the new wave of curated, fancy, disciplined, and refined coffee shops hitting my hometown. These places are obsessed with all facets of detail in performing their craft. They make sure the aesthetics and flavors of their coffee drinks and food are impeccable and irresistible. The coffee is flavorful, the people are pretty, and the settings are sleek and styled.

The granddaddy of the neo-coff’s is Ceremony Coffee in Mount Vernon. This may be the largest of all coffee shops in Baltimore. It’s got a massive food prep and coffee bar area, and it even has it’s own cupping lab. Ceremony hails from Annapolis, MD, but has definitely staked out its claim in Baltimore with this beautiful bright sun-drenched space. They of course serve all the espresso staples that you love but also produce several creative coffee drinks from Shakeratos to Coffee Root Beer Floats. The staff is impressive in its meticulousness and the food is treated with the same kind of love.

Next on the list is Spike Gjerde’s foray into the coffee scene. Powered by Counter Culture, Artifact Coffee is housed in a old mill building in Woodberry on the Hampden side of the river (I don’t actually know it’s a mill, but I figure it’s safe to say since all the new places popping up in Baltimore are in old mill buildings). The space evokes warmth and comfort only found in all brick restyled industrial places, and the turntable playing old school vinyl classics doesn’t hurt. The coffee offerings are solid and the overall experience is totally worth the visit.

The baby of these coffee shops is Order&Chaos Coffee in Riverside right off of Key Highway. It’s just under a month old as of this writing, but already making waves with its unique beginnings. Order&Chaos was created as a coffee shop within the Planit Advertising Agency so it could provide some creative fuel for its workers. The space is as expected: sleek, hip, stylish, and tongue-in-cheek. The mugs with the shop’s logo already look like a collector’s item worth stealing…um…buying. The coffee is, surprisingly, reasonably priced, and it looks like this place is already a favorite for Baltimore coffee addicts.

I’ve been saying for a while now that Charm City’s food offerings have improved greatly in recent years; the coffee scene has undergone a similar transformation. There are still those old school shops that speak to the heart of Baltimore. We’ve got those coffee nooks that identify with more than just good coffee. Finally, there’s a new, sleek, modern wave of coffee shops that pride themselves on amazing aesthetics and refined coffee. Baltimore has come a long way in just my lifetime when it comes to coffee, and I’m stoked to see what comes next.

~ Food Nomad

(Writing and Photos by Food Nomad; Edited by District of Coffee)

Dutch in DC

Usually when my European relatives visit they shake their heads at the size of a cup of coffee served at cafes. It’s true, everything in America is bigger, but many places are catching on that it’s about quality not quantity.

Now I am armed with the knowledge to take them to a couple places without complaints!

Grace Street Coffee.

Double Dutch – 2 reasons why Grace Street Coffee was a good idea: I recently asked manager Angel if they were getting any resistance running a specialty café and he explained that generally people are excited to learn more about their coffee but sometimes people complain that they don’t offer larger sized coffee. Sounds like the perfect place for small-coffee-loving Dutch people. Coffee profiles change as the temperature drops and the concentration of the coffee/water ratio are important to really taste specialty coffee. No 20 oz sized coffees here! I had no issues popping in there to order a cappuccino and take a few pictures of their Dutch-made Spirit espresso machine. It ain’t much if it ain’t Dutch!

Dolcezza.

Dutch people love their markets. Like really. So we headed to Union Market where I knew Peregrine would serve us up a delightful cup. As you all know though, most DC-ers love Union Market too so it was a tad crowded! Lucky for us Dolcezza Gelato Factory is now open on weekends. Here is what is interesting: one of my guests ordered a Macchiato. I’m sure everyone remembers how terrible it was when Starbucks came out with the caramel macchiato and it was scandalously not anything like a macchiato.. Well apparently in the Netherlands they are used to a latte macchiato served in a tall glass with lots of milk. At a specialty café in DC a macchiato is the strongest milk-based drink there is, with mostly espresso and just a splash of dairy goodness. So it was a big surprise when we received a short espresso cup rather than a smooth  mild milky drink! But I was assured it was still delicious.

So there you have it, a small roundup of Dutch-approved coffee in the District. Can’t wait until the next visit to savor more of the approving reactions as we continue to drink our way through DC.

Where do you take your foreign visitors for a cup of coffee?

Stay Grounded,

Daniëlle