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St. Elmo's Coffee Pub - Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray

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I was very sad to discover that the Shirlington location served cardboard cheese pizza now. Maybe it was because it was delivery, but I was rather disappointed with their cheese pizza ordered two weeks ago...lacked flavor, pizza very flat, cheese had no flavor, crust was hard, and even the boys (playdate) didn't really want seconds....

Maybe they will be better at coffee than pizza. I have a lot of respect for Nora and St. Elmo's as an institution, but the coffee leaves a lot to be desired, so they will benefit from a low bar.

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So, for a guy who studied economics and loves natural experiments, I've enjoyed the transformation of St. Elmo's. The question was: "What would happen to St. Elmo's when ME Swing's came into it's own, Emma's espresso bar opened up on the north end, and Stomp opened up across the street, serving Swing's coffee and making it very well?"

1. First off, they changed their coffee sourcing. It's 100% Stumptown, now. Sure, Stumptown isn't the independent company that it once was, but it's still really good coffee. They stopped using the "meh" coffee that they used to use, and obviously, when you use a better ingredient, you're going to get a better result.

2. They got rid of the automatic espresso machine, and got a manual. Way more controllable, way more flexibility. And, it just looks cooler. Takes a little longer, but it's worth it.

3. They got into the trendy stuff. They have Stumptown cold brew on tap - one Nitro, one regular. Had to do it... people love that stuff.

4. They have the hand written chalkboard that you see at pretty much every coffee shop these days, instead of the goofy board that they had up before. It just looks better.

5. They renovated. Got rid of the old flooring, and have really nice new wood floors. They are changing the furniture. Still in progress.

6. The baked goods are better. Didn't ask who they changed to, but those lame dry muffins are sad looking bagels are no longer.

7. They have sandwiches from Market 2 Market. I like those. A little overpriced, but good stuff.

Adapt or die .. They are adapting. Coffee quality is approaching Swing's. I don't feel the need to go out of my way to Swing's as often, though I really like their Latte's better. If you had given up on them, give it a try.

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