Just hours from now, we will be at the crossroads of a new day. Like literally, a new day (Tuesday) starts in about 2.5 hours when the clock strikes midnight. But what’s so magical about the day that lies ahead? Well, September 29th is National Coffee Day –and that’s kind of a big deal. (For me, at least.)
I am an avid coffee drinker, though I wasn’t always. My earliest memories of coffee-laced mornings goes way back to when I was in kindergarten (which now seems like a lifetime ago). I remember getting dressed in my school uniform, and then having a typical Filipino American breakfast: a fried egg, garlic fried rice and SPAM (Don’t judge, bitches.)… all the while listening to my mom and dad chatting over piping hot cups of instant coffee. Though the thought of instant coffee now makes me gag like no other, the memory of my parents starting their mornings with a cup of hot coffee somehow takes me to a good place… And then I remember where I am today, realizing my own daily need for a java fix, and I scoff at the thought of the gross Keurig options that are served up in the office. Not that I am complaining about free coffee at work, but until the day when Blue Bottle Coffee makes its way to the DC area, I will just be sad.
No, I don’t love Starbucks. In fact, coffee chains make me cringe, although they do the job when I’m in a rush, or when I absolutely have no choice in the matter. Chain coffee, to me, reminds me of airports and train stations… shopping malls and grocery stores. You go into one, and you’ve gone into them all. Gloria Jeans, Tully’s, The Coffee Bean (Although, I do hold a special affinity for TCBATL in my heart… I support #kosherjava.), Costa Coffee (Had to be “global,” of course.), Peet’s, blah-blah-blah. At the end of the day they are ALL the same.
I say this, though, as a self-professed coffee non-snob. I mean, if I’m able to deal with Keurig-esque caffeine fixes, I can’t really call myself a connoisseur. But I do love myself a delicious cup of drip coffee, or an Americano with just the right amount of hot water. The drip may take longer, as does the wait for a decent Americano, but it’s a wait that’s worth every minute.
In honor of National Coffee Day, I present to you my ultimate favorite coffee spots in DC. And no, you will not find one Starbubcks or Dunkin’ Donuts here. My list is an ode to craft coffee; to those places that serve coffee that’s flat out good. (I said “good,” not “pricey.”) Visit one of these spots, and I’m sure you’ll be turning your head away from those frappe-whatever-the-fucks that you were once obsessed with. Really, it’s time to move on.
- LITTLE RED FOX, 5035 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, 202.248.6346
This cozy shop in the Chevy Chase area serves up great fare boasting locally grown ingredients, but the coffee here is nothing short of great. Matt and Jena Carr, who are DC-area natives and proprietors of this neighborhood gem, were inspired to bring a little “Portland” (As in Oregon, not Maine… Nothing wrong with Portland, ME, though.) to this corner of the city after a stint in the Pacific Northwest. From cold brews to pour overs to cups of single origin drip… the choices are amazing.
- FILTER COFFEEHOUSE AND ESPRESSO BAR, 1726 20th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009, 202-234-5837 (And multiple locations)
Bursting onto DC’s coffee scene in early 2010, Filter Coffeehouse and Espresso Bar has gained a reputation of serving up coffee drinks for everyone from the well indoctrinated drinker to the newbie. With coffee coming from an Annapolis-based roaster, Ceremony Coffee, Filter offers many types of coffee drinks –but not to be missed is their Cortado.
- DOLCEZZA, 1418 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005, 202.817.3900 (And multiple locations)
Dolcezza has become known in DC to be synonymous with gelato. DC’s gelato bailiwick has expanded its reach to neighboring Maryland and Virginia in recent times, but has been serving up deliciousness to city dwellers for the past few years. But be sure to give them a second look when it comes to their coffee, as they work closely with Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Gelato and espresso together?! Sign yourself up…
- COMPASS COFFEE, 1535 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001, 202.251.7402
DC’s Shaw neighborhood has been experiencing a renaissance as of late, and Compass Coffee surely plays its role. Started by two former Marines who realized that coffee didn’t have to be tasteless or bitter, Compass Coffee strives to serve up simple yet very good coffee. The shop currently sources beans from around the world, with coffee offerings to enjoy both in-house and at home.
Yours truly spending a Saturday morning at Shaw’s Compass Coffee
- THE WYDOWN COFFEE BAR, 1924 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009, 202.507.8411
The trendy 14th Street corridor is where The Wydown Coffee Bar calls “home.” Once set in a shared space along neighboring U Street, The Wydown now finds itself among the new and emerging businesses popping up all over the restaurant and bar-heavy enclave. With a drip bar serving a slew of craft coffees (Intelligentsia included), to an espresso bar, and even teas for those who are not so java-inclined, there is so much to be enjoyed.
So how much more convincing is needed to pull yourself out of your Starbucks-enclosed box? Whether you’re ready for these shops or not, know that these five coffee bars are just a handful of several that have popped-up across the city in the last few years. Be sure to give one of these places a try, and make your National Coffee Day much better than it could be. Drink up!
Featured photo from compasscoffee.com