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Illy Cafe, New Hampshire Ave. and M St. in West End

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1143 New Hampshire Ave NW

Renaissance M Street Hotel

(between N L St & N 22nd St)

Washington, DC 20037

(202) 775-0800

Hit this place for the 2nd time. Wonderful, wonderful espresso. Designed as a mod version of a true Italian 'Bar', it's stand up only (OK, ok, there are some tables outside, but they are not 'serviced tables'). Their menu is limited and my only minor, minor nitpick is that there is no booze to order up an espresso correto (ie corrected with a bit of booze) as you can get in Italy. Their pours are healthy and staff fast and efficient and friendly.

It was funny. Today, a young woman came in and asked for something (not sure what as I was not listening closely) and the counter person indicated that they did not have whatever it was this person was looking for but that she might have better luck at Starbucks about 400 feet down the way. Brilliant!

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The espresso I had this morning here was not offensive, unlike other coffeeshops that serve a bitter long pour. But the crema was thin, and illy's vacuum-packed beans just don't compare to fresh roasted.

On the plus side, I love illy's iconic espresso and coffee cups. They even include the saucers -- no sarcasm here, I don't quite understand coffeehouses that serve beautiful latees in mugs without the saucer.

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