Re-Doing the District

I (Daniëlle) am sitting at Dolcezza, at the new DC Wharf, contemplating how much DC coffee has changed since I left for Alaska last summer. When I knew I was returning I asked Lauren where I should go first – what HAD to be my first stop back in the District? Since I got here in January, I’ve made every effort to visit as many new places as possible. What’s crazy? That using Lauren’s last post as a guide, it’s taking nearly two months to make some progress! A few other places have also popped up just since she published her post early January (Elle, Bluebird, Bluestone Lane)

Allow me to run through a few of the beautiful cafés I’ve had the pleasure to get to recently:

Qualia. We were excitedly anticipating this opening practically from the first time we wrote about them – it had been a long time coming. An early Saturday was the perfect time to soak up the sun through their big windows and take over the arm chair corner and linger. With tons of single origin offerings just like at the at their first location, it added up to a perfect morning.

Blue Bottle in Georgetown. DC became the hub for West-Coaster ‘Philz’ to start launching its East Coast expansion, so it was exciting to see Oakland-native Blue Bottle make its way down. They opened in Georgetown last summer, and are set to open a second location soon, near Union Market. If anyone has ever flipped through James Freeman’s book, you’ll know he takes his coffee, and his cafes, very seriously. They didn’t skip a beat in creating a beautifully simple and bright space in Georgetown to sit and enjoy some millennial toast and a pour-over.

Velo Café. I don’t know how bikes and coffee came to be a thing, but it certainly is a thing. Serving up Vigilante Coffee alongside their bikeshop and small hardware store is the perfect one stop shop. District Hardware has been around for decades and their warm and friendly staff reflects this mom-and-pop feel.

Bluestone Lane in West End. Reportedly the largest Bluestone Lane in the US, their newest café co-located with the West End Community Library is stunning. When I visited, some of their corporate managers were there and it was delightful to hear the Australian accented individuals talk about their passion for coffee. I think it’s part of the culture. Flat whites, avo toast, and table service all around.

The Cup We All Race 4. Instagram photos of this café led me to the Line Hotel in Adams Morgan – I may not have found it, were I not actively searching for it! Perhaps the mystery is part of the allure. The Cup We All Race 4 is in the front lobby of the hotel, but you are welcome to enter through the doors into the main lobby and linger while you sip on your Counter Culture cappuccino. Super friendly bar staff will even come by and bring you some water to sip on. The hotel also boasts two bars and a restaurant.

Little Pearl. I have been a fan of the coffeeshop part of Pineapple and Pearls since its inception, and the beautiful space at their new location came at no surprise. Paired with some of their famous baked goods, adorable cutlery and bright openness, our morning there was heavenly. And they serve wine in the evenings, so win-win! 

Café Chocolat. They serve La Colombe coffee here, but do yourself a favor and also order the drinking chocolate! They come in three different varieties and they’re as beautiful as they are delicious. If you have the chance, engage in conversation with the shop owner about craft chocolate- I’m a relative newbie to the culinary category but I can tell you I’m here to stay. Craft chocolate is in my future!

Pluma by Bluebird Bakery. It’s no secret that I have a slight obsession with croissants and I’ve always held the bluebird bakery ones with the highest esteem. I was thrilled when I heard they were opening up a store front, and it met all my dreamed-up expectations. Beautiful décor, Stumptown coffee, and perfectly situated in the seriously exploding Union Market area.

Dolcezza at The Wharf DC. All the Dolcezza locations are so instagrammabe and their newest location is no exception. Giant windows with spectacular views, I can’t wait to see it during Cherry Blossom season! Dolcezza also serves Stumptown and they make all their gelato from scratch.

Gregorys (three locations). Did Gregorys kind of sneak into the District without a big fuss? Allow me to add a little fanfare by explaining that DC is the first place outside of the New York City area where Gregorys is making its mark. That’s NY- 26, DC -3 . Pretty impressive that they saw the DC market as being the one to focus on next. Try their mylks – activated charcoal is on the menu folks!

Swing’s on G Street. Swing’s closed their oldest location about 18 months ago due to renovations being made to the building, but they sure did their best to keep with the classic charm of the original while sprucing up the broader space. They also have bins and bins full of whole bean coffee where you can customize your blend.

I did make it to Crimson Diner (with Lauren!) but we got there too late for espressos. Fried green tomatoes anyone? (they were amazing. And HELLO there’s a whisky bar downstairs!)

I still have a handful of cafes to explore and while initially I was in a rush to get to them all immediately (clearly, and I had to get this blogpost done!), I’m going to slow down and revisit a few of my other favorites too. And a couple more are slated to open soon, so I’m not running out of new places yet! It’s good to be back, even if just for a little while.

 Let us know which of the newest cafes have tickled your fancy!

 Stay grounded,

Daniëlle

 

 

 

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Roaster of the Month: Lost Sock Roasters

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Lost Sock Roasters cupping at Colony Club

We have been hearing about Lost Sock Coffee around town, and I finally met the duo behind the buzz at a cupping at Colony Club a few months back. Jeff, Nico and I got to chatting, and their drive and passion was inspiring. Take a look at how this community minded pair is bringing their coffee to your door.

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Local supporting Local – Lost Sock Roasters cupping at Colony Club

Like many coffee enthusiasts’ stories, it was the clarity and fruitiness of a washed Ethiopian coffee that first caught Jeff’s attention after being brought up on Dunkin Donuts coffee in Boston. Instantly drawn to learning about how coffee could taste so different, he started exploring.

“When you begin finding the answers to these questions, you open your eyes to an entire world system of countless origins, people, processes and methods. With coffee, you never stop learning – there’s always more to it.”

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At Lost Sock they are about more than just coffee; there is an awareness about the lengths at which coffee goes through to reach your cup that they want to share. In fact, Lost Sock was borne out of a community-oriented project they and three other friends thought up around the time Nico and Jeff were students at American University.

“The concept had been coined ‘The Lemonade Stand’- this community-oriented collaborative space would function as a small bar, coffeehouse, art gallery, and live performance venue. We all sensed this growing DIY creative community that was taking root in DC, and we wanted to be part of it, foster it, and contribute.”

Although the original plan didn’t take root, Nico and Jeff kept after the idea and eventually started roasting green coffee in their apartment.

“It was a lot of trial and error, but drinking a cup of coffee that you had personally roasted provided unparalleled gratification. We now had a certain level of control in flavor development, and we became obsessed. We then began taking roasting classes through the SCAA at the Academy of Coffee Excellence at Williamsburg Coffee.”

They have learned how difficult the roasting process is, found the craft in it, and are passionate about bringing that to the masses.

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Coffee offerings at the Timber Pizza Co. pop up
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Lost Sock’s branded gear at Timber Pizza Co.

Jeff and Nico aim to bring you a cup of coffee as satisfying in the morning as finding that lost sock you’ve been after. Their design was created by Gem Mateo, whom they met through a mutual friend and who works for Levi’s in San Francisco. The name and design are simple yet thought provoking, and a testament to their fervent passion of the brand.

I recently caught up with them at Timber Pizza Co. in Petworth where they have been hosting a pop-up since the beginning of December. Originally slated to run one month, they’ve extended through January as the restaurant and community have relished their presence. Other than their single origin coffee offerings, I also had the pleasure of trying Cascara tea, a type of tea made from the skin and pulp of the coffee cherry (gently caffeinating its recipient at 1/4 the intensity of coffee). They also serve hot cocoa made from Undone Chocolate (a DC award winning chocolatier) and their homemade vanilla syrup. Timber makes their wood fired bagels (first boiled in New York – what they say about the water is true) and breakfast empañadas.

Future plans include suiting up a VW van to be a mobile espresso/coffee bar, popping up throughout town.

“Our main goal, however, is to establish ourselves as a respected specialty coffee roaster and increase our presence throughout the city.”

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Lost Sock’s pop up at Timber Pizza Co.

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Keep your roaster radar tuned for upcoming pop-ups featuring Lost Sock Coffee!

The Stats:

Roaster manufacturer: Mill City Roaster
Calibration Program/software: Artisan
Capacity: 6 kilo
How many batches per hour: 4
Lbs per week/month: approx 300lbs
Bean sourcing (direct trade/importers): Collaborate with a small number of importers as well as a couple direct trade collectives.
Cuppings frequency: Weekly
Packaging: Hand stamped fully recyclable brown kraft bags.
Wholesale/Retail: Online : delivery within the District and ships nationwide. In stores/pop-ups at Peach Market, Odd Provisions, Small Chop, and From The Farmer. More to come!
BONUS:
Personal favorite region: Lately the Kenyans but will always have a soft spot for really fruity, floral, and bright Ethiopians.
Recommendation that’s on the shelf now: The Nicaraguan Lovo! Also some very exciting new offerings coming very soon including a Kenyan and a Rwandan.

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