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  1. Oby Lee had a really good coffee shop/roastery in Rehoboth Beach for years. He could make disgusting-sounding flavored coffees taste really good. Their sticky buns were legendary. We heard he lost it in a bitter divorce. Anyone been to his place in Arlington? http://www.obylee.com/
  2. Another independent house in lower Montgomery County serving Vigilante. Silver Spring has seen a very nice uptick in local coffee shops in the past year -- Bump "˜n Grind 1200 E-W Hwy Silver Spring, MD 20910 http://bumpngrind.co Need to check it out, shame parking is atrocious on that part of East-West.
  3. I went to Songbyrd a couple days ago, ordered a Large Iced Coffee ($2.75), and really enjoyed myself. Songbyrd offered both traditional drip, and cold-filtered (for 48 hours) as iced coffee - they have the inside of two small stores, and the south side has a selection of vinyl on sale - worth browsing through just for the memories. My barrista was pleasant as could be, and I wouldn't hesitate to return here, especially considering the location - almost right on the corner of 18th and Columbia, on the northeast side of 18th Street. I can't help but think they could make a more efficient use of their space, but that's only hurting them; not the customer. The north side is the "cafe side" and the south side is the "coffee and record" side, and each menu is covered with a vinyl album cover. Definitely a welcome, quirky addition to the neighborhood.
  4. Better late than never. M.E. Swings is a true DC area coffee pioneer, having been founded here in 1916. Long roasting downtown and a major presence through the roaring 20s and WWII, the company has a wonderfully rich history and commitment to our region. In 2006, the last generation of the founding family relinquished control and sold to a non-family buyer. Today, the company roasts in Alexandria and operates a single retail shop just east of the World Bank across from the Old Executive Office Building. I tend to think of Swings with respect for its history but, sadly, not with a lot of enthusiasm for its product. Very important to fess up that I have not visited the downtown shop but will very soon. So why a dour view of the product? I've had Swings coffee many times in restaurants and, at least a few times, in homes where they'd bought the beans. Based on those experiences, I can say that the flavors weren't vibrant, rich or especially complex and that I didn't so much enjoy them. This was a consistent view. While true that home and restaurant brewed coffee can suffer from all kinds of equipment and technique issues, I think I've had it enough in situations where I had good visibility to the brew method, bean freshness and equipment used with still the same impression. We know a few more things about Swings that support a view that the company has fallen behind a booming coffee scene increasingly dominated by great independent shops focused on new approaches, freshness and the highest quality single origin beans. First, Swings simply doesn't have the focus that the great independents here do. They have a healthy wholesale business not just with restaurants but also with grocery stores ranging from Safeway to Whole Foods. Large batch commercial roasting though they do use Probats in Alexandria which tend to be fine roasting machines. Second, their known practices aren't quite up to modern standards. They routinely sell beans that were roasted months (as many as 6) before; just not a timeline for great coffee as discussed on many other threads. They also tend to emphasize blends. Blends can be fine or even wonderful but an emphasis on those at the expense of single origin beans often illustrates a roaster not emphasizing freshness and the highest quality arabica beans. Finally, I know a couple of local restaurants (which shall remain unnamed) that have switched or are in the process of switching from Swings because they feel the coffee isn't helping them with their customers. It doesn't get a lot of raves or positive feedback. Again, true that restaurants muck up coffee all the time but the better coffee roasters work with their restaurant partners to ensure that doesn't happen. This is why you can get a very good or excellent cup at places like Eve, Society Fair, NRG's restaurants (Birch & Barley, Evening Star, Buzz), R24 or Woodberry Kitchen. As a coffee hound, I'd love to see one of the old line locals really up their game. This applies to three roasters primarily: Swings, Quartermaine and Mayorga. But I fear these companies long ago decided that quantity was the path to success versus the harder slog to ensure great quality. I will visit the shop--they may be using fresher beans there than available elsewhere; I'm not sure. But based on what I have experienced so far and know, Swings isn't close to the same level of the fast growing number of super local retailers and roasters we've written about in many other threads.
  5. There's also Killer ESP in Old Town. I've never been, but I've heard the service is friendly, but very slow; their WiFi is reportedly even slower. In other words, it's arch-hipster. They use Stumptown Roasters from Portland, and are a legitimate Independent Coffee House.
  6. Ryan Jensen, former Murky alumnus and currently with Counter Culture Coffee will be opening an espresso bar in the space previously occupied by Murky Coffee, which you may recall, was seized in February by the district for nonpayment of taxes. Link to story
  7. I don't know Annandale that well but, as best I can tell, amidst all the great Asian restaurants, it's an area very under served by good coffee. While I can't be 100% certain (and would love a good challenge here from any who know Annandale better), I feel pretty safe advising that anyone in the area looking for decent coffee should go here and only here. OTOH, by no means would it make sense to drive here from Arlington County, Alexandria, DC or MoCo for coffee. Beanetics, like Caffe Amouri in Vienna or Misha's in Alexandria, roasts their own beans, which they largely buy from a NY based wholesaler. Relative to all the other roasters I can think of in our area, the operation here is a bit larger in terms of the square footage devoted to a large capacity roaster and related equipment and beans at immediate left when you enter. Pretty cool setup based only on curb appeal. I ordered a small cappuccino and a pourover (the latter using their own roasted Hawaiian Kona coffee since that's a varietal less common with shops who sell other roasters' beans). I forget the type of espresso machine they have but it wasn't a Marzocco. The capp was heavy on foam relative to the espresso and the espresso itself was a bit bitter. Serviceable to be sure but probably a better bet to go for freshly brewed coffee here. They offer either french press or pourover though the latter with a plastic funnel and filters too small for the opening but workable. My Kona was okay. Nothing with especially notable flavor or complexity but smooth enough and drinkable. The owners here have definite passion for what they're doing. They had maybe a dozen different single origin and blended beans available for sale in unusual but perhaps more advanced packaging. They do put roast dates on all the packages, which is great to see. Most were roasted within the past 5 to 7 days with just a few that went back no more than 17 or so days. Pastries, cookies, muffins are all fairly standard for area shops. They serve Two Leaves and a Bud tea, one of the two better options available on the market for bagged teas. I like when I see this or Mighty Leaf in a coffee shop since I don't expect them to invest more in the best loose leaf tea program. If looking for a decent cup before or after an Asian repast out Annandale way, you probably can't do too much better than Beanetics unless headed back toward DC.
  8. On the way to La Colombe over the weekend, we passed by a new independent coffee house, Compass Coffee. We couldn't resist not checking it out. We weren't disappointed. The space is great - light, airy, with 2 large skylights in the ceiling, an industrial feel to the tables and chairs with white subway tiled walls. Definitely a place for hanging out - and there was already a presence patrons with their Mac laptops surfing/working away. While we were enjoying our cortados and rosemary/garlic biscuit, one of the owners came over to introduce himself. He and his friend, both former Marines got into coffee during their tour of duty and wanted to add to the DC coffee scene. Much, if not all of the storage units and furniture were built/welded by the 2 owners. Pretty impressive. They are roasting their own beans and the barista on duty pulled a lovely smooth and rich cortado. The biscuit was a bit chewier than I prefer, but had good flavour. Compass Coffee has only been open about a month, but the place was bustling with activity. Beans are sold in tin canisters which are treated like growlers in the way that you get a $1 discount when you bring the canister back for a refill of your next bean purchase. We are big fans of La Colombe, but are excited to also support Compass Coffee in their venture. It's a great new addition to the DC independent coffee scene.
  9. How do indy coffee houses get added to the map? Mug N' Muffin out in Stone Ridge (the next big community past South Riding) is a nice little place. They even make affogato and I am finally going to try it!
  10. Idido's Coffee and Social House opened just south of the Rite-Aid Pharmacy at the intersection of Walter Reed Drive and Columbia Pike. This is the best coffee house I know of in South Arlington, which itself isn't saying much, but this gets ranked in Italic in the Dining Guide. I'm not sure offhand about the quality of La Colombe beans, but the coffee they serve is worth the trip - parking is easy, and smiles are plentiful. Idido's is a definite asset to South Arlington.
  11. So last weekend I took Nick Cho up on his offer . Had a blast. Learned a lot. Drank a lot of espresso, most of it pretty bad. Now that I have a real taste for it, where do I go to get the good stuff? Is there any in DC? Where are your favorite places, and why do you like them? [Murky coffee has its own thread. Starbucks need not apply] ...help? --- The following posts have been split into separate threads: Big Bear Cafe (marketfan) Bourbon Coffee (DaRiv18) Tynan Coffee and Tea (DaRiv18) Mayorga Coffee Roasters (hillvalley) Restaurant Eve Bistro (goodeats)
  12. Opened 10/21/2013 - Caffé Aficionado, 1919 N Lynn St, Arlington. A new high-end coffee house opened Monday in the CEB/Deloitte building in Rosslyn. They serve Handsome Coffee, from Los Angeles using a 2-group La Marzocco GB/5. They do pour overs later in the day and serve amazing pastries. Not sure who bakes them, but they are delish. Not everything on the menu is available--like some house made Belgian-style waffles. They also have fresh squeezed orange juice.
  13. Good news for those who spend time on the Mall. Excerpted from a Smithsonian staff email: "The Hirshhorn is pleased to announce opening of a Dolcezza Gelato & Coffee pop-up coffee shop, its first food and beverage service.... Dolcezza’s Hirshhorn pop-up is located on the Museum’s plaza and will serve daily-made gelato, rich pastries, and expertly crafted coffee drinks, pour-over coffee, cider and hot chocolate. Visitors to the space can also enjoy a new commissioned mural by DC-based artist Kelly Towles, inspired by the works of Yayoi Kusama. Currently open 9 AM to 5 PM, the coffee shop will launch extended hours on Monday, April 3, opening at 8 AM every day and staying open on Wednesdays until 6 PM." whoo-hoo!!!!!!!!
  14. Culture Coffee (no connection to the great NY midtown shop of the same name) is the kind of new shop that didn't get a ton of pre-open hype. To the best of my knowledge, Tim Carman hasn't yet been there. Nor have the Post, Washingtonian or Eater, or the "other" big food sites buzzed with news of tiny Brightwood Park's new Culture Coffee. Eater's parent, now a crown jewel of Vox Media did have a few mentions on its real estate site. That pretty much leaves local neighborhood sites like Prince of Petworth, who has been on the case. The comments on this thread are mostly heartwarming and encouraging. Today was their 10th day. There hasn't been much big splashy and buzzy media coverage because Brightwood Park, a sliver of a neighborhood just north of Petworth, doesn't have a dozen cranes looming overhead. There isn't a trolley line under development as in the not-so-nearby Atlas District. Rents are markedly lower than in the hotter-than-hot 14UP corridor, Shaw, Bloomingdale, Northwest and even Southwest. The closest Starbucks to Culture is maybe 15 blocks north in Brightwood. The closest great independent, Qualia, is about 16 blocks to the south. CapitalBikeshare, though not too far away, hasn't yet fully embraced this area. So, absent a lot of competition, Culture has chosen a potentially good spot at which to open its doors; in an area likely to welcome it with open arms as already evident from the comments on the popville topic to which I linked just above. In an area we might euphemistically say is "under served." The city thought so too and awarded them a very small grant to help establish a pleasant gathering place with good signage, plenty of light and comfortable seating for about ten. Just one two top with the rest comfy chairs for now. I stopped in at Culture this week. The owners couldn't have been nicer or more excited to have planted a community-oriented coffee shop flag in their neighborhood. They have a website here. They are trying to appeal to as many customers as they can with smoothies, some lunch items like wraps and sandwiches, a few pastry/cake options and the coffee program. Culture doesn't do pourovers or french press or any brew-to-order coffees. They'll usually have 2 or 3 pre-brewed coffee options from small pots they keep full. The Simonetti espresso maker enables the usual menu of espresso drinks. I had a cappuccino which was fine. They serve takeaway drinks in styrofoam but will be transitioning to more environmentally friendly cups soon. Culture is a somewhat unusual independent shop in carrying Swing's coffee. In that, they share something in common with the new Palena coffee shop. Is Culture a shop to drive across town for that rivals the best shops in the city? No. But it is a shop full of heart and soul. The colorful, dynamic artwork of a local artist (also featured on their Facebook page) adorns the shop. And, two owners with big smiles are there thrilled to be serving all who come in. I hope the surrounding neighborhoods put a bear hug around this place. Not just by patronizing them but also by giving them feedback and helping them; they seem very open to it. They've already been hosting the local ANC and other meetings. They'll be hosting open mike nights. In short, this a place about which I'd be ecstatic if I lived in the area. I'm pretty excited about Culture even though I won't be a regular. It's great to see a shop open here with such magnetic spirit and vibe. I wish them all the best. And, yes Cheeze, free WiFi!
  15. Time to start a topic under DC Dining for Vigilante Coffee since they have been serving coffee for around a year in pop-up formats and have been at the Hogo location since March, 2013. They'll have their own enduring outpost at Maketto which will be opening....er...sometime soon...I guess. First, makes sense to link to the topic already established under Shopping & Cooking. Will leave to the Mods whether best to combine the two topics here since, as a still-relatively-new and smaller roaster/retailer, Vigilante would be more consistent with how Caffe Amouri and Qualia are categorized here on DR.com. I was in to the Hogo pop-up earlier this week for my first visit. Five coffees were displayed in jars on the counter and available for pourovers using Kalita Wave Drippers. I had the "Maui Mocha" which the server told me was the "world's smallest bean." Indeed it was small but tough to verify that claim for any who'd care to challenge it (not me). Vigilante has a distinctive Hawaiian focus explained fully on the website (link in the first sentence just above). The Maui coffee was fairly smooth and lower acidity but still with nice body. I enjoyed it. They also had two from Central America (El Salvador and Guatemala), a Columbian and Jamaican Blue. They have a very basic espresso setup (Simonetti machine). I'd guess espresso drinks aren't the thing to get here though they are planning a full, Marzocco-enabled espresso operation at Maketto so that'll be the time to take that plunge. Typical baked good assortment. Not sure about WiFi since this is a bar/restaurant by night.
  16. While out in Vienna recently, I got a recc on a nearby coffee place for a quick pickup that I'd never have found otherwise and thought I'd share. Caffe Amouri is about 7 months old and is at 107 Church St NE in Vienna in a pretty non-descript strip mall. I'm guessing this is probably the best coffee spot in that immediate area and maybe top 3 in NoVa. I instantly give points to coffee shop purveyors who roast on site since you know the java is fresher that way and most don't do this due to the cost. Coffee was excellent. Owner very nice and there's a brand spankin' new, yellow and gleaming steel fairly high tech roasting machine right in the front of the cafe. My only pick, a minor one, is how they positioned and use the machine. It's set up like one might expect at a science museum and reminded me of the Way Back Machine. It has a velvet rope around it, a few scattered coffee burlap sacks for effect and it's connected to a laptop with its own stool. But maybe not so cool to run it during the day as they do since it's right next to the tables and makes a ton of noise. Amouri has a thread on Yelp (like every other retailer on the planet it seems) but I wanted to point it out here since it's very good and may help someone out that way desperate for a quality cup.
  17. Flying Fish Coffee and Tea is now open (and has been for a few weeks in Mt Pleasant). It's excellent- very friendly, straightforward and good coffee and espresso. Haven't tried the teas just yet. Their iced coffee is terrific. Fantastic addition to the street . Counter Culture beans, they have the usual drip, pour over and mixed drinks. Worth a stop if you are in the neighborhood.
  18. I wanted to start the thread here for a new spot coming to downtown Takoma Park. Seth Cook and Chris Brown, two coffee veterans who have been at Northside Social for years, are branching out on their own. They have a great location on Laurel Avenue, and construction is about to begin. TKBC (@takomabevco) will offer coffee, beer(draft) and wine as well as a great cocktail program. The menu will be designed by a chef you will all recognize. I love this team and this concept, and that is why I decided to back them financially and advise on the project. Keep your eyes out as the project progresses.
  19. Grace Street Coffee website I just visited here for the first time to pick up a bag of beans to brew at home. To my taste, the beans were a little over-roasted (I prefer Counter Culture, for reference), but I'd say it was about on par with other local roasters in the area. I was inspired to try them after seeing Blue Bottle was planning to open up a shop nearby. Interested to see how they do in DC.
  20. I drove past today, and there's signage up on the window of the old Tutti Frutti frozen yogurt shop, so Rare Bird is probably getting pretty close to opening. I also found this: "Food News: Rare Bird Coffee Roasters, Longhorn Steakhouse, Coming to Falls Church" by Jody Fellows on fcnp.com As far as I can tell, this is not a second outlet; they're moving their base of operations to Falls Church.
  21. A mere five doors down from the newly opened Four Sisters' in Merrifield is a spacious bakery and espresso bar to enjoy a leisurely cup of joe or tea with a few cases full of pastries and cookies. Owner and Pastry Chef Toni Srour and his wife Samar opened this venture back in March, and it is a nice addition to the lack of bakeries in this area, especially in Merrifield. Of the three things I tried, a Mini Palmier, Lemon Macaron, and a slice of the Vanilla Yule Log, two were a hit and the last was a slight miss. It has been a long time since I've had a palmier that does not leave a lard- or shortening-like aftertaste and I did not taste it with this one. However, the sugar on top was extra-caramelized, which is fine by me. For $1.50, the lemon macaron was smaller in size than what I've seen in other bakeries, but the moist, slightly tart, but lemony flavor right after that initial crunch and break of the meringue part was well-worth it (although I haven't had enough macarons to make a great judgment). The Yule log slice of cake was similar to the moist cakes sold in Asian bakeries, but it was a bit too mushy for me. The buttercream was definitely better than most places, but I really enjoyed the sugar topping (a sugared chimney), as it reminded me of the sugar flowers that once topped cakes in the past. Owner and Pastry Chef Toni said that they bake everything there and they also serve some lunch items. One of the things I'd like to try next time is the Thyme herb Croissant. According to the Post article, it was his dad's recipe. The Pastry Xpo website is basically a shell right now, but Maurice Pastries is a bit better, content-wise. Pastry Xpo 8190 Strawberry Lane Merrifield, Virginia 571-282-4970
  22. Admittedly late to the discussion. Whatever your "impression" was, based on that eG thread, please don't wander in to touch me anywhere. The state of restaurant coffee is slowly improving, but is still generally very poor... in DC, and pretty much everywhere else. There are too few exceptions. To disagree with this statement is an understandable and common ignorance about coffee.
  23. Cremcafe, located in Rockville Town Center deserves a thread. This is an Israeli style cafe. I can't vouch for the coffee, although I am told it is really good (my 5 year old loves the hot chocolate). The food is really good. The hummus is homemade every day. It is bright and well seasoned, served with a bunch of pita for dipping. The burekas are made in house and are also very good. This is the extent of my dining there (no need to go any further once you try the burekas!). When I took my Israeli friend there, he couldn't believe he hadn't heard about it or been there previously. Come to think of it, I need to go more often.
  24. Highland Origins a newly opened coffee place across the street from Addis Ababa. They seem to specialize in Ethiopian coffees (no surprise there) and have free WiFi. I had a pretty good drip coffee today.
  25. I only recently became aware of this new entrant in the booming DC coffee shop scene despite it being open a couple of months. Did a quick search here on DR.com and, though I found a hiring post, didn't see a thread or report so here you go. Most of the other food websites/magazines/blogs have announcements or articles about it including Washingtonian, Eater and Y&H. In short, BakeHouse is a very nice place with a nice back story and a few smart points of differentiation (aka good reasons to visit). Briefly, BakeHouse was founded by a young married couple who hatched the idea while working in a small museum in South Georgia (the island which figured in the Falklands War and, of course, Shackleton's Endurance expedition; not Savannah/Valdosta). I like this place. It's small but modern with a bright and airy design. Approximately 15 seats not including some outdoor sidewalk seating. For this time of year (July), I can attest their A/C works quite well. More seriously, they have all the essential requisites. Quality coffee (more on that below), some complementary (actually more locomotive than caboose) food items, free & fast wifi, and a mix of seating types (counter, sofa, tables). Just west of 14th on T, so close to metro, bus lines, bike lanes, landing strips and whatever other transport options. Just a fundamentally nice and pleasant place. With that backdrop, two things at BakeHouse really stand out. The first is signaled by their name. Different from most coffee shops with plasticene (or worse) food, this place is really and firstly a bakery cafe that also has a very good coffee program. That versus the more typical coffee house with a couple of cellophane-wrapped biscotti options and uber-sweet muffins. The BakeHouse folks seem to love baking and they do it well. I tried a good-looking cinnamon roll. It tasted good too (!) and, interestingly (appreciably for me), it was served warm with the frosting on the side. Tarts, scones, pies, cupcakes, cookies and a full array of breakfast and lunch sandwiches are all part of the mix here. Much better grub than most coffee shops. The baked goods and casual, grab-and-go foods are themselves an excellent reason to visit. Second, of course, is the coffee. I love the places in town we now have that are really coffee forward. By that I mean spots owned and operated by coffee obsessives who care intensely about their equipment, technique and, of course, their beans. But, alas, an achilles heel of such places is they tend not to emphasize food very much, if at all. Filter, Peregrine and Qualia are good examples. All top of the heap in terms of the very best, painstakingly-made cups you'll find around here but, if you want a truly great muffin or scone to go with it, well, have to go elsewhere for that. BakeHouse is a slightly different animal. They're using a very good coffee not yet well known in DC called Zeke's. Zeke's is an 8-year-old, small, family-owned Baltimore roaster that's been a presence at many of the area farmer's markets for a few years. They will be opening a shop themselves at Conn and Rhode Island later this summer, where they'll be surrounded by several of the other higher-end independents now clustering in the Dupont/Downtown/Shaw/Logan/14th St area. At BakeShop, I tried a single-origin pourover from Bali and a cortado. Though maybe not quite as precise concoctions as other shops, both were quite good. BakeShop uses a Cecilware Venezia espresso maker and a Mazzer grinder. Pourover rack looked to be filled with Hario v.60s. BakeShop is bringing some new mojo to the booming small, artisan coffee scene in DC (Yes, Msgr, Furstenberg--talking to you here ) with much-better-than-the-norm baked goods, a new local coffee roaster and a respectable coffee program. It's a nice shop. They even welcome dogs outside with peanut butter treats though that's hearsay for me since noone is outside sipping hot joe on 95-degree days.
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