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Grape + Bean, Coffee House, Wine Bar, and Gourmet Market in Old Town and Rosemont


monavano
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Grape + Bean on S. Royal St. in Old Town Alexandria was recently opened by a local couple in this townhome turned gourmet wine, cheese and coffee shop. And.....they are (exclusively) selling fresh breads made by Nathan at Restaurant Eve. Today, for example, they have rosemary-potato, baguettes, fruit loaves and foccacia. The owner said it's best to call ahead to place an order or reserve a bread if you have something particular in mind or want to make sure you get something before they run out.
They are focusing on smaller producer wines and sparkling wines. A wine counter had wines to sample and the main counter had olives, breads and cheeses out to graze on.
There is also (what appears to be a unique thing in the area) a Clover coffee machine that they use to brew/make Counter Culture coffee beans.

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More here.

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David Gwathmey and his wife Sheera are the owners of the establishment, whom I have known for many years, and they are very excited about getting the place open to the public. The Clover coffee machine makes single cups of coffee right on the spot, and is known throughout the industry as being one of the best coffee machines around. they are also doing a small selection of wines for sale, somewhere around 100 bottles and plans to do more around wine tastings as business increases and develops.

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David Gwathmey and his wife Sheera are the owners of the establishment, whom I have known for many years, and they are very excited about getting the place open to the public. The Clover coffee machine makes single cups of coffee right on the spot, and is known throughout the industry as being one of the best coffee machines around. they are also doing a small selection of wines for sale, somewhere around 100 bottles and plans to do more around wine tastings as business increases and develops.

They seemed very nice when I met them on Sat. and were really helpful.

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Anybody know how the wine selection is here? This place was brought up last night and I haven't made it over yet. Are they able to serve wine here yet?

(Starter website with hours)

I know that they have chosen to focus on small producers and sparkling wines. When I've gone, they have had 2 bottles open for self pour samples at the side counter. I also found out that if you want the bread at Eve that you get at the bar and bistro, ask for the ciabatta. You can call ahead to see if they can order it for you so you can be sure they have that particular kind when you go.

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this crazy little place just opened in Old Town - they have a Clover machine for coffee.

Is it sad to say that I'm just not that big of a fan of their coffee bean supplier? I know it's the same one that Nick and others use, but my stomach and the beans just don't agree. On the other hand, the Clover and the brew it made was just wonderful (rich, concentrated, hearty brew). And just seeing it in action makes me want to work there. If it only was closer to EFC area....

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Anybody know how the wine selection is here? This place was brought up last night and I haven't made it over yet. Are they able to serve wine here yet?

(Starter website with hours)

It is a small but interesting selection. The owner did offer to try to track down a specific wine someone was looking for when I was last in the shop. And I believe they're only doing tastings on the weekends, for now.

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Stopped by here for the first time today with wife & baby. What a great experience. We tried a few different cups of coffee, and chatted with David & his crew for some time. They have a great setup there, the inside is simple and very well done. There is a menu of about a dozen different coffees, and the wine selection seemed varied. They also offer a few other treats beyond the grape and the bean--exotic salts, cheeses & beer. I was pleased to learn that they have just gotten their permit to serve food and they'll soon do small plates with a few tables outside.

The Clover is pretty cool to see, and the coffee that it produces is indeed terrific.

I really think they have a good concept, and one that is well executed. I wish them the best of luck.

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Stopped by here for the first time today with wife & baby. What a great experience. We tried a few different cups of coffee, and chatted with David & his crew for some time. They have a great setup there, the inside is simple and very well done. There is a menu of about a dozen different coffees, and the wine selection seemed varied. They also offer a few other treats beyond the grape and the bean--exotic salts, cheeses & beer. I was pleased to learn that they have just gotten their permit to serve food and they'll soon do small plates with a few tables outside.

The Clover is pretty cool to see, and the coffee that it produces is indeed terrific.

I really think they have a good concept, and one that is well executed. I wish them the best of luck.

They have some delicious small plates in mind-vegetarians keep an eye out. I also forgot to mention that they have wine tasting every Friday evening. They also seem to be carrying the Eve ciabatta consistently. I had my share at a Lickety Split lunch yesterday. Fresh.From. The.Oven.

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Is it sad to say that I'm just not that big of a fan of their coffee bean supplier? I know it's the same one that Nick and others use, but my stomach and the beans just don't agree.

David's friendly face was present and helpful in recommending which brews to try for a few friends and I today. I guess I can drink my words from a year ago, as although I didn't ask if they still get beans from CC, the flavorful French Roast I had definitely hit the spot and didn't make my stomach twist. For $2 pre-tax, a sampler 6oz, I think, is a great size and price. There is also a 14oz ice coffee available now too. Beans are regularly rotated and good variety.

I saw many come in to purchase bread and also more swinging here for coffee and then next door for cupcakes.* David mentioned beer-tasting there as well.

*Lavendar cupcakery allows Grape+Bean coffee in there, so I saw a few people drink their coffee while eating cupcakes at Lavendar today.

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I guess I can drink my words from a year ago, as although I didn't ask if they still get beans from CC, the flavorful French Roast I had definitely hit the spot and didn't make my stomach twist. For $2 pre-tax, a sampler 6oz, I think, is a great size and price. Beans are regularly rotated and good variety.

They still get their beans from Counter Culture and have a nice rotating selection to choose from. I'm sure the staff can recommend something that is milder or less acidic - or whatever you're in the mood for - like goodeats said above, they're always friendly and helpful. :D

Grape + Bean may soon need a thread in the restaurant forum. They currently offer several tasty small plates at the wine and tasting bar Wed-Sat evenings and will soon be serving lunch Tues-Fri. We've enjoyed the crostini with artichoke, parmesan (?), and mint, as well as the one with boquerones. Yummy! There are also a few flatbreads on the menu, along with salads, cheese, and charcuterie. On Friday night there was a special crostini of foie with a sweet tomato preserve. The offerings are simple, but made with quality ingredients and reasonably priced. You can order wine by the glass in two different sizes, or by the bottle (and take what you don't finish home with you). It's a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere - candle light and exposed brick. Nice to see them doing so well a year+ into their venture!

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Lunch service started today, according to this email update:

GRAPE + BEAN is NOW serving lunch-yum. We know you've been waiting patiently!

We're offering fresh + delicious salads, sandwiches (think ciabatta with fresh buffalo mozzarella, pesto + red peppers; olive bread with roasted turkey, smoked provolone + beef steak tomatoes), crostinis with an array of toppings, and of course our plentiful cheese and charcuterie plates. Great for Carryout too! Are we making you hungry?

We're featuring the same high quality ingredients, produce, and products we offer at the Wine Bar at night--fresh bread from Restaurant Eve, organic and/or locally grown produce, and nitrate free meats.

Lunch Hours are: Tuesday through Friday 12 - 4pm.

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Forgot to add LT serves Counter Culture coffee which IMHO is a wonderful coffee. They do a fine French press offering with several choices and the coffee was truly outstanding the two times I had it this week.

I believe only Dean & Deluca carries CC beans in the DC area. .

Grape + Bean in Alexandria carries CC as well.

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Enjoyed my first Clover-brewed coffee tonight courtesy of Grape + Bean. There's a good story behind why it took me so long, a story I may tell with finger puppets during the next happy hour.

My verdict: Yes, it is all that. Hype well deserved.

The *perfect* cup.

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Grape + Bean may soon need a thread in the restaurant forum. They currently offer several tasty small plates at the wine and tasting bar Wed-Sat evenings and will soon be serving lunch Tues-Fri.

The Clover is long gone, but they have a Trifecta in its place, and it brews just as good a cup (maybe better). And, they have beans from Blue Bottle as well as Counter Culture.

This place is a gem. It's almost enough to make me want to live in the New Dominion.

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Today (and today only) Grape + Bean is having a very interesting sale on sparkling wines, California wines, and a slightly less interesting sale on all other wines.

In other news, they are going to be opening a second location in Rosemont later this year. Word is it will be retail/coffee outlet to start, with dining added a few months later. Lucky me, to live about halfway between both locations!

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Lunch service started today, according to this email update:

We're offering fresh + delicious salads, sandwiches (think ciabatta with fresh buffalo mozzarella, pesto + red peppers; olive bread with roasted turkey, smoked provolone + beef steak tomatoes), crostinis with an array of toppings, and of course our plentiful cheese and charcuterie plates. Great for Carryout too! Are we making you hungry?

To quote another (later) post of mine, that ciabatta/mozz/pesto/piquillo pepper sandwich is one of my favorite things on the menu, and a regular Saturday lunch for me. The baguette slices topped with either boquerones or artichoke/mint/pecorino make for a very nice nibble paired with one of their by-the-glass offerings. You can also stock up on what my friends and I affectionately refer to as "crack" bread - Nathan Hatfield's amazing fruit and nut bread - or the other wonderful breads he bakes that are available for purchase. All of the food items are made with very good ingredients and a lot of care/creativity.

G+B is absolutely a gem and we're very lucky to have them thriving in Old Town!

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"Why don't these idiots just do a Google search?"

That's the question I got from someone yesterday when someone posts on here about things that are readily available on restaurants' websites. (I defended the "idiots," by the way - posting is what keeps this website thriving, and I will never lose sight of that. I LOVE this website. Even if I never make a dime from it, I'll always love it.)

"There is no stupid question except the one that isn't tasked."

(Hence, our forum hosts. ZING! :mellow:)

Plus I'm busy reconstructing the Virginia Dining Guide which I completely douched due to a moment of brain death caused by lack of sleep.

But here's one question that cannot be gleaned from Google: how do you pronounce Grape + Bean? Is it "and" or "plus?" If the latter, I find that somewhat clumsy; if the former, I think it's catchy (and I like the quirky spelling of it, too).

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Grape + Bean in Alexandria carries CC as well.

I guess we all know by now that many places do. Two that come to mind are Northside Social in Clarendon and (believe it or not) Sweet Berry in East Fairfax on Main Street (Route 236) and Pickett Street.

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Grape + Bean in Alexandria carries CC as well.

I guess we all know by now that many places do.

And Blue Bottle. Don't forget Blue Bottle. (I'm yapping about it because I like it much better than CC and want people to go try it so it'll catch on and more places will carry it.)

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"Why don't these idiots just do a Google search?"

That's the question I got from someone yesterday when someone posts on here about things that are readily available on restaurants' websites. (I defended the "idiots," by the way - posting is what keeps this website thriving, and I will never lose sight of that. I LOVE this website. Even if I never make a dime from it, I'll always love it.)

"There is no stupid question except the one that isn't tasked."

(Hence, our forum hosts. ZING! :mellow:)

Plus I'm busy reconstructing the Virginia Dining Guide which I completely douched due to a moment of brain death caused by lack of sleep.

But here's one question that cannot be gleaned from Google: how do you pronounce Grape + Bean? Is it "and" or "plus?" If the latter, I find that somewhat clumsy; if the former, I think it's catchy (and I like the quirky spelling of it, too).

So while you're entrenched in straightening out the VA guide, I'll ask my question since I know you won't deem it "stupid" :unsure: Why does Grape + Bean have two threads? I clicked on new postings and saw two listings for Grape + Bean. I see that one is under shopping and cooking, and one under restaurants. But I can't recall if other restaurants that also have items for sale (or vice versa) have listings in both areas or not. Confusing? And I was just about to consult aforementioned VA dining guide!

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So while you're entrenched in straightening out the VA guide, I'll ask my question since I know you won't deem it "stupid" :mellow: Why does Grape + Bean have two threads? I clicked on new postings and saw two listings for Grape + Bean. I see that one is under shopping and cooking, and one under restaurants. But I can't recall if other restaurants that also have items for sale (or vice versa) have listings in both areas or not. Confusing? And I was just about to consult aforementioned VA dining guide!

[Yeah, one's for the shopping aspect; the other for the prepared food aspect. Sort of clumsy, admittedly.]

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So while you're entrenched in straightening out the VA guide, I'll ask my question since I know you won't deem it "stupid" :mellow: Why does Grape + Bean have two threads? I clicked on new postings and saw two listings for Grape + Bean. I see that one is under shopping and cooking, and one under restaurants. But I can't recall if other restaurants that also have items for sale (or vice versa) have listings in both areas or not. Confusing?

I think this is because G+B started out as a coffee and wine shop, which falls under "shopping and cooking" but later added lunch-counter service, which is why a dining thread was added. I want to say this is the case for Cheesetique too, but am not positive, since I am confessedly too lazy to run a search.

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Hit up G + B for a first visit. Somehow this escaped me despite it being open for a few years; even as a food-serving cafe for around 2 years.

It's a bit quirky in a few respects but I liked it because the owners clearly care about quality. They are serving great coffees, chocolates, limited artisan/gourmet specialty foods and interesting wines. The space is nice; I like the high tables with inlaid leather. Reminds me of small wine bars in Spain and other Mediterranean countries; er, ones that also serve coffee :mellow: .

The quirky things about this place that I noted include mostly what they don't offer: espresso beverages, pastries/scones of any kind, wifi. I talked with the young women who were working when I was there (who were great BTW--very knowledgeable and very nice) and each of those things not on offer makes some sense.

As I understand it, no espresso because the owners were wine people before they became coffee people and really wanted to expose customers to the amazingly broad flavor palette and sensory experience of coffee; maybe also due to limited space but that seemed a bit circumspect since they could probably fit a smaller (one or two pull) Marzocco in the current space without too much trouble. No pastries/scones because they don't open in the morning until 11. They did offer me a great and very dense nut/fruit bread they get from Restaurant Eve though! No wifi because (and I'm guessing here) they want to encourage customer discussion and engagement with the coffee rather than the usual laptop armada. I'm especially sympathetic to this one; if I have it right.

They are using a Bunn Trifecta machine which made a very nice cup with some Asian beans that I can't recall but really enjoyed.

In any event, one of the staff speculated that espresso drinks and maybe even good pastries/baked goods may be on the drawing board for the Alexandria or future Rosemount space. Whether or not they do that, I'd still absolutely go back to G + B whenever in the area. Great product and people who clearly care a lot about the customer experience. Love that. Just wish they'd consider a spot in upper NW--amazingly still underserved with great coffee.

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Stopped into the Old Town location today for a browse...and what turned out to be a purchase of red Hawaiian salt. Sweet! No, salty. No, wait....

*back to the point of the post*

The proprietor noted the Rosemont location would likely open in 4 to 6 weeks. He also laughed, acknowledging he has been citing that same number for a couple of weeks. The final inspections, etc., have to happen first, so who knows. His enthusiasm was evident, genuinely excited about the expansion.

He indicated the Rosemont locale would at first focus on market goods, coffee service, and bottles of wine. Wine service would follow later, evolving the concept as they go.

I can't wait. I want to evolve, too!

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There were some workers working on the outside of the store in Rosemont today, and it's been going along fairly quickly and well since the beginning of the new year. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if it does open in about a month/'month and a half. I just hope it won't bring a bunch of idiots and their cars screwing up the neighborhood...

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Needed a little lunch the other day while running an errand in Old Town. There's no place I like better than Grape + Bean for that. Sat at the bar, chatting with staff and other customers. Never can decide what to get. "I think it's a duck rillettes kind of day", she said, so that's what I got. A perfect little lunch: a mound of rich meat, a few slices of lightly toasted bread, a few cornichons and green olives. Followed that with a cup of truly excellent coffee and (part of) one of the obscenely priced (but damn good) El Ceiba chocolate bars. Talk about a perfect food and beverage pairing.

I adore Grape + Bean. I envy goldenticket for living halfway between the two locations.

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While I wouldn't put G&B in the top most tier for coffee,

Seriously? I think it's one of the best places around, and certainly the best cup in Alexandria (including Society Fair). They carry beans from some of the usual suspects (Lexington, Stumptown) and well as Blue Bottle (the only place in the area I know of that does), and they'll brew a cup to order (though no longer on the Clover). They're as passionate about coffee as they are about wine. In the past week I've had brewed coffees (not espresso) from Dolcezza (Dupont) and Filter as well as G+B, and I'd say G+B was way better than Dolcezza, though maybe a tad below Filter, in quality.

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G+B is definitely top tier for coffee, especially if you buy into the donrockwell.com policy that independent coffee shops automatically get italics in the Dining Guide. I feel espresso is fairer game for these sorts of tiering judgments, as the differences are more stark and obvious.

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[i went ahead and moved porcupine's and DaRiv18's posts here, which brings up one point and one question:

Point: I really love the "Where Did I Dine?" thread in so many ways, one of which could be providing rich content to move into the restaurants' threads (which is what I did here). It is imperative to be aware of the "Snapback Function" - that little back-arrow at the top right of darkstar's original post, on the same line that says "darkstar965, on 11 Jan 2013 - 19:09, said:" - clicking on this arrow takes you back to the original post, so it gives you a backwards audit trail to the original conversation. From an "Information Curator" point of view, it is indispensable information. Definitely be aware of the Snapback Function. (Try it and See!)

Question: Does Grape + Bean have seating? Apparently so, but I thought not. If that's the case, it belongs in the Restaurants and Dining section (that's the criterion for what goes where - for example, Stachowski's Deli goes in Shopping and Cooking because there are no seats.

Gosh I love moderating this website when it's active. It's fun!]

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Question: Does Grape + Bean have seating? Apparently so, but I thought not. If that's the case, it belongs in the Restaurants and Dining section (that's the criterion for what goes where - for example, Stachowski's Deli goes in Shopping and Cooking because there are no seats.

I recall seating. Perhaps no indoor seating, but definitely patio seating. Which I guess is why the Greek Deli is in the R/D section, under your definition.

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Seriously? I think it's one of the best places around, and certainly the best cup in Alexandria (including Society Fair). They carry beans from some of the usual suspects (Lexington, Stumptown) and well as Blue Bottle (the only place in the area I know of that does), and they'll brew a cup to order (though no longer on the Clover). They're as passionate about coffee as they are about wine. In the past week I've had brewed coffees (not espresso) from Dolcezza (Dupont) and Filter as well as G+B, and I'd say G+B was way better than Dolcezza, though maybe a tad below Filter, in quality.

Yes, seriously. While I don't think it "top tier," I need to reiterate (have written this before in other threads) that, at the end of the day, what most matters is simply what one enjoys. In my opinion, there are no "right answers" for wine, coffee or anything else. That said, different people value different things and, for most products, there are generally accepted quality guidelines. I always like to learn what those are--how the "best" whatever is different from everything else. What the true experts believe. Then can decide whether to embrace that set of principles or not.

I'll explain my thinking on this related to the G+B discussion in a different coffee topic we already have since it's not so much about G+B, a place I really like too. For me, they might be italicized if this was a coffee website (using Don's rubric for his Dining Guide). I forget what percentage of all restaurants are bold faced in Don's guide (maybe less than 2%?) and italicized (maybe less than 10%?) but, for coffee, G+B (and Dolcezza for that matter which I'd argue is exceptional for its gelato but something less than that on coffee) would be italicized but not bolded for me. More to follow.

G+B is definitely top tier for coffee, especially if you buy into the donrockwell.com policy that independent coffee shops automatically get italics in the Dining Guide. I feel espresso is fairer game for these sorts of tiering judgments, as the differences are more stark and obvious.

Again, not for me but this is in the eye of the beholder to be sure. I didn't realize Don was italicizing all or most independent coffee shops? That wouldn't be right if true (imo obviously). There are plenty of mediocre independents. And some chains that do a very good job. Also respectfully disagree that differences are "more stark and obvious" for espresso than for coffee. But, again, I'll back up these views rather than just asserting them...in a day or two.

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Question: Does Grape + Bean have seating? Apparently so, but I thought not. If that's the case, it belongs in the Restaurants and Dining section (that's the criterion for what goes where - for example, Stachowski's Deli goes in Shopping and Cooking because there are no seats.

Stachowski's has a single large round table at the front of the shop next to the register. It can only seat 3-4 people and is almost always full. But you can sit and have a huge and wonderful sandwich there if there's an open seat. Not to nitpick. I also think it a shopping kind of place; a market. That's the forum in which I'd guess most people would look for it. But there are a few seats if that's really the only and absolute criterion for the DC Dining/Restaurant forum.

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Again, not for me but this is in the eye of the beholder to be sure. I didn't realize Don was italicizing all or most independent coffee shops? That wouldn't be right if true (imo obviously).

Yes it's true, I said so didn't I? Actually he announced it in response to your post. :-p

http://www.donrockwell.com/index.php?/topic/18923-middleburg-common-grounds-independent-coffee-house-on-144-w-washington-street-in-middleburg-va/?p=218715

That's ok. I've been bugging him to change the H Street NE dining guide rankings for over a year now because they are also not "right", but it is ultimately his call on rankings and how independent coffee houses ("ICHs") are treated. I am fine with giving ICHs special attention, they seem to be a more at-risk business without meaningful alcohol sales to support their bottom line.

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Yes it's true, I said so didn't I? Actually he announced it in response to your post. :-p

http://www.donrockwell.com/index.php?/topic/18923-middleburg-common-grounds-independent-coffee-house-on-144-w-washington-street-in-middleburg-va/?p=218715

That's ok. I've been bugging him to change the H Street NE dining guide rankings for over a year now because they are also not "right", but it is ultimately his call on rankings and how independent coffee houses ("ICHs") are treated. I am fine with giving ICHs special attention, they seem to be a more at-risk business without meaningful alcohol sales to support their bottom line.

Uh, won't comment on the fact that you'd "said so" other than to thank you for the link. I'd missed that one when it posted. You may be right that Don intends that italics shine a spotlight versus indicating a certain quality level. Now I'm not sure about that but, as you say, it Don's decision to make of course.

With you on ICH's being at-risk though not sure the failure rate is higher than for restaurants. ICH's sometimes do include alcohol sales with G+B, Chinatown Coffee and Kafe Bohem all examples. Obvious point about ICH economics but the startup capital required and typical cash burn rate for ICH's is relatively low making profitability easier to attain than for restaurants. But that also means less experienced people often start them which introduces many other kinds of risk to business viability. Would be interesting to see real data on it comparing to restaurants but doubt it exists. The boom in ICH's nationwide is a fairly recent phenomenon.

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Question: Does Grape + Bean have seating? Apparently so, but I thought not.

Yes, it (the Old Town location) has seating. Maybe 6-8 seats at two counters, plus several high tables middle and back of the store, seating maybe 12 people. They also have menus and table service. Grape + Bean absolutely should be in the Dining forum, though of course it is also a retail store for wine, coffee beans, Nathan Hatfield's breads, and a few other miscellaneous things. The sandwiches and crostini I've tried have always been excellent. Don, I'm really shocked you didn't know about this, though maybe it's partly my fault for eating there and not posting about it.

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Yes, it (the Old Town location) has seating. Maybe 6-8 seats at two counters, plus several high tables middle and back of the store, seating maybe 12 people. They also have menus and table service. Grape + Bean absolutely should be in the Dining forum, though of course it is also a retail store for wine, coffee beans, Nathan Hatfield's breads, and a few other miscellaneous things. The sandwiches and crostini I've tried have always been excellent. Don, I'm really shocked you didn't know about this, though maybe it's partly my fault for eating there and not posting about it.

I've only been once, for a quick cup of coffee, and it was a couple of years ago - I just didn't remember.

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^ wow, that was quick. "I wish Buffy were here."

And if I had Willow's million dollars, I'd buy lots more gourmet goodies from the Rosemont location. I cannot recall the brand name, but the baba ganoush is, hands down, the best I've ever had in pre-packaged form. Bacon, cheeses, yogurts, everything from their coolers has been top-notch, at it's prime, and quickly delighted.

With all that cash, however, I'd continue avoiding by-the-cup coffee. I've had several different blends at Rosemont and place them firmly in the "brewed too strongly for my taste" bucket. Beans by the bag are must haves, again top quality, an exceptional and dynamic selection.

I'd also drop some dollars in friendly greeting training for the staff. Granted, we're usually in "where do they think they are, the AT?" urban hiking gear when we traipse in, but we are rarely greeted with a hello, even in an otherwise empty shop. We've noted that whenever David is on site, the service picks up dramatically, quicker hellos and offers to assist after we've been browsing for a while. He's always at the top of his customer service game, offering to help us out with whatever obscure or hard-to-pair flavor request we have in mind.

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And if I had Willow's million dollars, I'd buy lots more gourmet goodies from the Rosemont location. I cannot recall the brand name, but the baba ganoush is, hands down, the best I've ever had in pre-packaged form. Bacon, cheeses, yogurts, everything from their coolers has been top-notch, at it's prime, and quickly delighted.

With all that cash, however, I'd continue avoiding by-the-cup coffee. I've had several different blends at Rosemont and place them firmly in the "brewed too strongly for my taste" bucket. Beans by the bag are must haves, again top quality, an exceptional and dynamic selection.

I'd also drop some dollars in friendly greeting training for the staff. Granted, we're usually in "where do they think they are, the AT?" urban hiking gear when we traipse in, but we are rarely greeted with a hello, even in an otherwise empty shop. We've noted that whenever David is on site, the service picks up dramatically, quicker hellos and offers to assist after we've been browsing for a while. He's always at the top of his customer service game, offering to help us out with whatever obscure or hard-to-pair flavor request we have in mind.

Clearly I'm a fan of the Old Town location, but I can't comment on Rosemont, as I've only been in once and that was shortly after it opened. Bummed to read your report, though.

One of the reasons why I need a few days before I support why I think (for me) G+B isn't in my topmost tier is that I need to check it out again. I've been a few times but not in the past several months. Did want to remind though--in reaction to KMango's post above, that barista (coffee maker) skill levels are highly variable and that really does hugely matter in what ends up being poured for you. A "too strong" or "too dark" cup of coffee might be old, burnt or "bad" beans like Starbucks made famous. Or, it could be that the grinds steeped too long, that there was too much coffee used for the amount of water, the brew method wasn't great or that the water temperature was too hot. I don't remember having that reaction to G+B coffee when I had it (and, like you KMango, I'm sensitive to and don't like super stong/over extracted/burnt tasting coffee) but I'm wondering if you (KMango) were game to give G+B another chance, you might talk to one of the owners, explain what you experienced the last time and see what they'd suggest in response. I'd bet you'd get a much better cup that way. This is one of the things that frustrates many with coffee--so many variables. Or, if you have the genetic defect I do, it's an aspect of coffee that makes it so interesting and great.

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Uh, won't comment on the fact that you'd "said so" other than to thank you for the link. I'd missed that one when it posted. You may be right that Don intends that italics shine a spotlight versus indicating a certain quality level. Now I'm not sure about that but, as you say, it Don's decision to make of course.

Ha, I apologize for retorting strongly, re-reading your post I don't see the malice in your "if true" statement about my recollection of Don's policy that I did the first time. I look forward to reading why it's easier to determine quality from a cup of coffee rather than espresso.

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Ha, I apologize for retorting strongly, re-reading your post I don't see the malice in your "if true" statement about my recollection of Don's policy that I did the first time. I look forward to reading why it's easier to determine quality from a cup of coffee rather than espresso.

No worries at all and thanks for the post. On coffee vs espresso, I wouldn't say one's quality is "easier to determine" than the other. Rather, I think both have much in the way of attributes and nuance that make differentiation between bad, good and great very possible; of course depending also and mainly on personal preference. That had been in reaction to your thought that espresso has "stark and obvious" differences which coffee lacks. Back to this in a day or two. Thanks again, DaRiv.

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This discussion is a hazard of the Grape + Bean business model, it seems: they don't fit neatly in categories.

When I think of Grape + Bean (OT) it's primarily as a wine bar, with nicely curated retail selections (not a small number). But also I often by my coffee there. G+B is the only place in metro DC that I know of that sells Blue Bottle coffee. The Rosemont location has complicated things even more. That location more of a wine, beer, and gourmet store. They also have coffee service and breads, but as of this writing, no dining menu or on-site wine/beer. I understand that will change in the spring.

Regarding coffee by the cup: G+B (both locations) have the Trifecta from Bunn and also do pour overs. Sadly, training and consistency could be improved. This is common in places that are not primarily a coffee house. The only "multi-business" place I know of, where beverage quality is consistently high, is Northside Social: coffee house, food and even a wine bar -- all very well done. They have clear commitment to their coffee program. Possibly also Pound the Hill. I have less experience there, but they might qualify. The other places I trust for coffee/espresso (Peregrine, Filter, Baked and Wired (oops, there's another one), Chinatown, are really trying to do only one thing: coffee.

One notable exception is Bolla Coffee on G St NW, near 15th (the address is 655 15th). Bolla serves fresh counter culture coffee, marks the roast date of all the coffees they serve, makes good espresso drinks, and has great soups and sandwiches.

But back to G+B: they are the most likely place in Old Town to get a good cup of coffee, but that's not saying much. Even the former Bocatto, now "Killer ESP" is terrible.

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And if I had Willow's million dollars, I'd buy lots more gourmet goodies from the Rosemont location. I cannot recall the brand name, but the baba ganoush is, hands down, the best I've ever had in pre-packaged form. Bacon, cheeses, yogurts, everything from their coolers has been top-notch, at it's prime, and quickly delighted.

With all that cash, however, I'd continue avoiding by-the-cup coffee. I've had several different blends at Rosemont and place them firmly in the "brewed too strongly for my taste" bucket. Beans by the bag are must haves, again top quality, an exceptional and dynamic selection.

I'd also drop some dollars in friendly greeting training for the staff. Granted, we're usually in "where do they think they are, the AT?" urban hiking gear when we traipse in, but we are rarely greeted with a hello, even in an otherwise empty shop. We've noted that whenever David is on site, the service picks up dramatically, quicker hellos and offers to assist after we've been browsing for a while. He's always at the top of his customer service game, offering to help us out with whatever obscure or hard-to-pair flavor request we have in mind.

Definitely agree with the poor, slow, inattentive service at the Rosemont location.

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This discussion is a hazard of the Grape + Bean business model, it seems: they don't fit neatly in categories.

When I think of Grape + Bean (OT) it's primarily as a wine bar, with nicely curated retail selections (not a small number). But also I often by my coffee there. G+B is the only place in metro DC that I know of that sells Blue Bottle coffee. The Rosemont location has complicated things even more. That location more of a wine, beer, and gourmet store. They also have coffee service and breads, but as of this writing, no dining menu or on-site wine/beer. I understand that will change in the spring.

Regarding coffee by the cup: G+B (both locations) have the Trifecta from Bunn and also do pour overs. Sadly, training and consistency could be improved. This is common in places that are not primarily a coffee house. The only "multi-business" place I know of, where beverage quality is consistently high, is Northside Social: coffee house, food and even a wine bar -- all very well done. They have clear commitment to their coffee program. Possibly also Pound the Hill. I have less experience there, but they might qualify. The other places I trust for coffee/espresso (Peregrine, Filter, Baked and Wired (oops, there's another one), Chinatown, are really trying to do only one thing: coffee.

One notable exception is Bolla Coffee on G St NW, near 15th (the address is 655 15th). Bolla serves fresh counter culture coffee, marks the roast date of all the coffees they serve, makes good espresso drinks, and has great soups and sandwiches.

But back to G+B: they are the most likely place in Old Town to get a good cup of coffee, but that's not saying much. Even the former Bocatto, now "Killer ESP" is terrible.

Really interesting post, at least to a coffee geek like me, jondagle. Mostly agree with your views across the board. And don't want to comment too much on G+B since I've already put myself on the hook to substantively support why I don't have them in my personal top tier, which I will later this week.

That aside, a couple of thoughts replying to yours above:

- Very much with you on the generally negative impact on one thing when a small business tries to do more than one thing. Of course, as with anything though, that probably isn't absolute. Dolcezza does two things. Some would say (me among them) they are primarily a gelato shop. But I'd also say they have an excellent coffee program; defying the odds some in doing that. Also, Chinatown is among the minority of coffee shops with a liquor license. I know coffee people in this city who think that has distracted Chinatown in a big way from its coffee program. Certainly we know where the profits are at Chinatown. Notwithstanding all that, I like the place for a cup.

- Re "training and consistency [problems are] common in places that are not primarily a coffee house." True but I think also very true that's also a problem in many, many more focused coffee houses nationwide. Lots of reasons for that with diffused focus just being one.

Have you ever tried to get a cup at Society Fair?

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