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Independent Coffee Houses: The New Map

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A new map of independent coffee houses in the greater DC area.  There are now so many, I did not feel compelled to list every one I'm aware of.  Some I've left off because I feel they just don't serve good product.

Happy to take requests for additions, or editorial comments.  Will add to the map as I learn of new places.

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Look at the top of the map, under the title.  It says:

*indicates really great coffee

***personal favorites

do your own research! caveat emptor

It isn't a rating system.

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Bakers and Baristas on 7th might be worth adding. Not targeting the same market as, say, Chinatown, but well-priced and well-brewed. I might also add the Red Apron on D downtown, although I realize that they may technically be a chain.

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Oh, and Maketto on H should definitely be added. Pretty fantastic product there.

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Bakers and Baristas on 7th might be worth adding. Not targeting the same market as, say, Chinatown, but well-priced and well-brewed. I might also add the Red Apron on D downtown, although I realize that they may technically be a chain.

Oh, and Maketto on H should definitely be added. Pretty fantastic product there.

Thanks for the tips!  Not adding Maketto was an oversight that I'll correct; on the fence about Red Apron; never been to Bakers and Baristas so it'll go on the list to try.

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Map's been updated with a few new entries, including Sweet Science in Adams Morgan.  Once again, if there's a place you feel should be included, please post here, and thanks.

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Map's been updated with a few new entries, including Sweet Science in Adams Morgan.  Once again, if there's a place you feel should be included, please post here, and thanks.

Hi.

I'd hope you could get Cafe Kindred in Falls Church.

It continues to solve the Great Falls Church Coffee Problem. :)

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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.

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Thanks for reminding me about that place, Rocks.  I didn't care much for the coffee there, but only tried it once, so it's worth a repeat visit, and in the meantime it'll go on the map.

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Sadly, Killer ESP is rather a crap shoot. It has so much potential, but ends up as a hodgepodge in decor, products, and quality. I've had a decent macchiato and espresso there; better than most places in Alexandria. But service and product are VERY inconsistent and many times poor. It's certainly a training issue because they have excellent equipment. The people working there seem to change often. A year or so ago they all seemed to be high school age and not interested in knowing much about coffee. They do have a pretty interesting cold brew apparatus and I think the pour-overs are generally competent--not great.

They use freshly ground Stumptown coffee and sell it there -- for the most part the retail coffee is pretty fresh. Occasionally I've seen month old bags.

I will forego the lament about how even Swings coffee bar has declined as their staff has changed, leaving Alexandria an espresso wasteland. The city seems cursed to have lousy espresso while DC explodes with cafes. Killer ESP is an independent coffee house, though.

Porcupine, thank you for your wonderful map.

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Sadly, Killer ESP is rather a crap shoot. It has so much potential, but ends up as a hodgepodge in decor, products, and quality. I've had a decent macchiato and espresso there; better than most places in Alexandria. But service and product are VERY inconsistent and many times poor. It's certainly a training issue because they have excellent equipment. The people working there seem to change often. A year or so ago they all seemed to be high school age and not interested in knowing much about coffee. They do have a pretty interesting cold brew apparatus and I think the pour-overs are generally competent--not great.

This is pretty consistent with what I've heard.

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Sadly, Killer ESP is rather a crap shoot. It has so much potential, but ends up as a hodgepodge in decor, products, and quality. I've had a decent macchiato and espresso there; better than most places in Alexandria. But service and product are VERY inconsistent and many times poor...

Porcupine, thank you for your wonderful map.

This is pretty consistent with what I've heard.

Guess I'll take it off, then.  Any recent report on Misha's?

And, you're welcome.   :)

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Guess I'll take it off, then.  Any recent report on Misha's?

And, you're welcome.   :)

Thank you from me, too, and Happy New Year to you and everyone else (especially those who have helped glue this community together - y'all know who y'are! (*))

I wouldn't take off Killer ESP based on my comment - use your judgement, but I don't have a large-enough sample size to be recommending that you remove it with any authority.

(*) Sorry, had to get my southern inflection in shape because of CLEMSON'S TRIUMPHANT VICTORY IN THE ORANGE BOWL YESTERDAY, oh, never mind, it's impossible to understand unless you were a student there during the LEGENDARY 1981-1982 SEASON (Clemson doesn't have "school years"; they have "seasons" - that's probably why you don't see a hell of a lot of Stephen Hawkings emerging from there, but there's always The Refrigerator - by today's standards, he's a veritable midget; back then, he was unlike anything anyone had ever seen. And what a lovable teddy bear, too - I know he's had plenty of problems lately, but he will be long-remembered for the totality of what he's done. Did you say something about coffee? :rolleyes:

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I sort of agree with Don about not taking it off, but I'm not sure what bar has to be cleared to get on the list. If it's just an indi shop that isn't bad, I'd keep them on (along with Misha's). If quality consistency has anything to do with it, then not sure...

Misha's makes good, darkly roasted coffee, if you like that kind of thing. I haven't tried an espresso there for years because they were unable to make a decent one between 2001 and 2009. Every one I had there was bitter and unpleasant. Maybe that works in a mocha or caramel latte, but I'd recommend against it.

Now, Misha's is a coffee-house institution for Old Town. Many people swear by it. In the distant past, before the ascendancy of "specialty coffee" -- when espresso was supposed to be bitter and freshly ground coffee was roasted darker, Misha's was the best coffee in OT. But tastes change and in some cases improve. Their roasts haven't changed much, while many other places now make single-origin espressos and pour-overs.... So they probably deserve to be on the list, but I would steer clear of their espresso. (Would love to hear of recent experiences there)

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I sort of agree with Don about not taking it off, but I'm not sure what bar has to be cleared to get on the list. If it's just an indi shop that isn't bad, I'd keep them on (along with Misha's). If quality consistency has anything to do with it, then not sure...

It's a good question.  Since the map is subjective, the "bar that has to be cleared" is, would I go there?  If there were Filter, TCB, Peregrine outposts in Alexandria, I wouldn't go to Killer ESP, but since there aren't, I probably would.  If I were desperate.  I guess what it comes down to is, if there's nothing good in an area, a mediocre place goes on the map; if there is something good, a mediocre place doesn't.

As soon as I get over this effin' sinus infection I'll revisit both Killer and Misha's.  I love having an excuse to go try things.

How do you feel about Society Fair?

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It's a good question.  Since the map is subjective, the "bar that has to be cleared" is, would I go there?  If there were Filter, TCB, Peregrine outposts in Alexandria, I wouldn't go to Killer ESP, but since there aren't, I probably would.  If I were desperate.  I guess what it comes down to is, if there's nothing good in an area, a mediocre place goes on the map; if there is something good, a mediocre place doesn't.

As soon as I get over this effin' sinus infection I'll revisit both Killer and Misha's.  I love having an excuse to go try things.

How do you feel about Society Fair?

My good friend (and website member) has an antibiotic-resistant sinus infection - be glad you're not him, as it's been six months now.

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Slightly off topic, and not very informative, but has anyone taken a Coffeehouse tour recently?  I saw at Chinatown Coffee that there is a passport for sale where you can visit participating independents and get it stamped for whatever activity.  I will probably not do this, but would like to hear about it if anyone takes the (french press) plunge.

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Slightly off topic, and not very informative, but has anyone taken a Coffeehouse tour recently?  I saw at Chinatown Coffee that there is a passport for sale where you can visit participating independents and get it stamped for whatever activity.  I will probably not do this, but would like to hear about it if anyone takes the (french press) plunge.

You can start out in the morning, limping from shop-to-shop; at the end of the day, you'll be cartwheeling down 7th Street.

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My expectations is that it will be a destination coffeeshop like all these other independents.  I know a barista at Chinatown Coffee will also pick up shifts there.  

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Dear indy coffee shop owners and roasters who read this fine thread,

I beg of you to consider filling in the coffee desert you see in the graphic below. Cool full service shop, small counter operation, cart, rickshaw, grinder monkey on the street who grinds beans with an organ like device, what have you. Please help. Thank you for your consideration

- Under caffeinated Lower Swampoodle Worker Drone. 

coffee.gif

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9 hours ago, Kev29 said:

Dear indy coffee shop owners and roasters who read this fine thread,

I beg of you to consider filling in the coffee desert you see in the graphic below. Cool full service shop, small counter operation, cart, rickshaw, grinder monkey on the street who grinds beans with an organ like device, what have you. Please help. Thank you for your consideration

- Under caffeinated Lower Swampoodle Worker Drone. 

Kevin, a very astute observation, but you *know* the rents are too high here, and even Starbucks most likely has stores up as loss leaders for marketing reasons.

It would have to be a truck or a cart; not a brick-and-mortar shop. That said, those could work, and it will all be traceable back to your original observation if it catches on.

PS - What in the hell is "East End?"

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10 hours ago, DonRocks said:

PS - What in the hell is "East End?"

It's the part of Swampoodle where we can hear the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow, love jellied eels, pie, mash and liquor me old China. 

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