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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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

 

Holiday Wish List: Coffee Enthusiast

We’re back at it for part two – gifts for the coffee enthusiast who wants to kick it up a notch (and a couple for those who enjoy drinking tea as well). Happy Holiday shopping!

 

PERSONALIZED CHEMEX

Why it makes a great gift: This is really where our holiday wish list began when Daniëlle discovered the personalized Chemex at the New York Coffee Festival. I mean, what a cool gift? You can have it personalized with your coffee enthusiast’s name, favorite sports team, your professed love for them…really, the world is your oyster. Then pick a colorful rawhide and get the bead personalized too while you’re at it. Chemex is making us one with the District of Coffee logo, and we couldn’t be more excited!

Price: $38-$48 on average

Where to buy: Chemex Website – find details for a custom design here, and regular here.

 

PRANA CHAI

Why it makes a great gift: What do you buy for the coffee enthusiast who already has everything? Tea! All kidding aside, this young Australian company makes incredible Chai using only the best ingredients and spices. We have written about Prana Chai before – such a great product: They are all natural – no additives or preservatives. They recently started distributing in the United States and we are over the moon! {We have teamed up with Prana Chai to share a Masala Blend gift box (including the fresh chai masala blend, ceramic cup, Turkish tea pot and strainer – as pictured) with one lucky winner – a $62 value! See our Instagram for more details. Furthermore, Prana Chai is providing our readers with a discount code, see details below!}

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Price: $22 and up  {DISCOUNT ALERT!!! Use code “DISTRICT” for 20% off their popular chai masala blend through 12/26! Find it here}

Where to buy: Prana Chai North America Website

 

CAFFLANO

Why it makes a great gift: This gorgeous All-in-One has been luring Lauren in for a long time. It’s sleek and purposeful: storing, grinding, pouring, and serving your coffee all-in-one. The grinder handle folds into the compact contraption, and has adjustable grind size; it includes a fine mesh filter and allows you to craft your own pourover all in one simple device, including drinking it out of the insulated tumbler. Economical, mess-free, and oh-so-handsome, it’s the Cadillac of travel coffee brewers.

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Price: Retail price varies, around $100

Where to buy: You can find them in several local shops, on the Cafflano website, or on Amazon

 

GOOSENECK KETTLE

Why it makes a great gift: Create the perfect pour over just like your favorite barista! A goose neck kettle allows you to be more precise while pouring, both in speed and where the water hits the grounds. The one pictured below from The Silver Spoon Co. has a built in thermometer which is really helpful in making sure your water is the perfect temperature before extracting your coffee grounds. This is a great gift for coffee and tea lovers, alike! {We dig this product so much that we’re  teaming up with The Silver Spoon Co. to give away one of these beauties later in the week – a $50 value! Check our Instagram on Thursday for more details!}

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Price: Varies, anywhere from $20-$80

Where to buy: The Silver Spoon Co. or Amazon

 

COFFEE CLASSES

Why it makes a great gift: Who doesn’t love an activity gift? Several shops offer a variety of classes taught by incredibly knowledgeable baristas, from Coffee 101 to Espresso Fundamentals to Iced Coffee… This could also make a great date activity – learn the different methods of brewing coffee together! Current local shops that offer classes are Peregrine and Vigilante.

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Price: Varies

Where to buy: Peregrine website, Vigilante website

 

COFFEE.

Why it makes a great gift: When all else fails, just.more.coffee. Most coffee enthusiasts love trying coffees that their friends like, so pop by your fabulous local cafe or roaster and pick up a bag of fresh beans for your buddy. While you’re at it, get yourself a bag -unless you have a good friend who is already thinking thinking the same for you. Then order your favorite holiday beverage, and relax while you cherish the feeling of being done with your holiday shopping. You got this.

Before we wrap this up ( <– see what we did there ?), one final giveaway to make your holiday shopping oh so much more spectacular. Some of our favorite roasters have chipped in to brighten up your holiday lights and together we’re giving away a bag of Swing’s coffee, Zeke’s coffee, Grace Street Coffee, Katz District Coffee, and a sampler of Commonwealth Joe Coffee. Head over to Instagram to enter, and happy sipping!

Our holiday wish list now draws to a close. We’re so thankful to all our partners in this and hope you found the perfect gift for your favorite coffee lover (or yourself)!

Get your buzz on,

Daniëlle and Lauren

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