From Jonathan Riethmaier @DistrictBean or email him at jonathan[AT]borderstan.com.
Here’s a confession – I’m in an intimate, unadulterated love affair with coffee. It started with careful flirtation for a moment or two, and escalated quickly into an explosion of passion and pure bliss. The best part? It’s a non-exclusive relationship. Coffee doesn’t mind when my eye wanders to that fine new thing I just passed. In fact, coffee encourages experimentation, knowing that each encounter only brings us closer together.
Yes, coffee is for lovers. And this guide is your little black book, for there’s no shortage of coffee-fueled pleasures to be had in Borderstan. What you’ll find below is a carefully curated selection of the very best places to express l’amour du café.
Kafe Bohem, 600 Florida Ave, NW
Kafe Bohem is a delightfully Czech-inspired café that would be as much at home along the streets of Prague as it is on Florida Avenue. The sister space of next-door Bistro Bohem, the cafe serves elegant Viennese-style classics in addition to the standard fare of coffee and espresso drinks. Here you’ll find such treasures as the Großer Brauner, Einspanner, and the Mélange, each adorned with fanciful steamed milk or house-made whipped cream. And the beans are also true-to-form, roasted by Austrian coffee company, Julius Meinl.
Blind Dog Cafe, 944 Florida Ave, NW
Blind Dog Cafe is the cozy transformation of Darnell’s Bar during the morning and mid-day hours. The owners envisioned the pop-up shop as a communal space where neighbors can experience genuine hospitality and strike up a friendly conversation. It was among the first to introduce Topeka-based PTs Coffee to the DC area. Stop by and enjoy a cup of coffee along with in-house made baked goods, and relax on a comfy sofa to steal a moment from a busy day.
Peregrine Espresso, 1718 14th Street, NW
For some time, Peregrine Espresso has been lauded as one of the finest purveyors of coffee in DC. Its cast of excellently-trained baristas are as knowledgeable as you can hope to find anywhere, led by barista-cum-cafe owner Ryan Jensen, who encourages staff to engage in industry competition and professional development. Sneak over to the 14th Street shop to find some of the most prized coffees from Counter Culture Coffee, and see if there’s a specialty drink available if you want to get adventurous.
Pitango Gelato, 1451 P Street, NW
Pitango Gelato has multiple locations around DC, but it’s the Logan Circle shop that powers the vibrant section of P Street across from Whole Foods. Some folks come for the authentic Italian gelato, but equally impressive is the compliment of espresso beverages. Indulge with an affogato, a heavenly dessert that highlights the intensity of espresso poured over rich, creamy hazelnut or chocolate gelato. Pitango also has an exceptional iced coffee, which is brewed using a Chemex to bring out subtle fruit and floral qualities in the cup.
Vigilante Coffee @ Mr. Yogato, 1515 17th Street, NW
Vigilante Coffee has quickly gained a reputation throughout DC by showcasing its small-batch, locally roasted beans at restaurants, cafes and farmer’s markets. But it took a significant step forward in 2012 when it opened a pop-up shop at Mr. Yogato on 17th Street. Stop by any weekday morning to find freshly roasted beans that the Vigilante crew sources through direct relationships with farmers in Guatemala and Hawaii. You can grab beans for home use, but try them out first at the pop-up’s custom pour-over station or as an espresso.
Pleasant Pops, 1781 Florida Ave, NW
You may already be familiar with Pleasant Pops. The company’s wildly popular paletas – a Latin American popsicle, of sorts – has been sold around town via food truck and farmer’s markets for a while. But after a successful crowd-funding effort through Kickstarter, the company opened the Pleasant Pops Farmhouse Market & Cafe this October on the upper edge of Borderstan. The coffee comes from Annapolis-based Ceremony Coffee, and you can treat yourself to a cappuccino while relaxing in this sunlit cafe overlooking Florida Avenue.
Filter Coffeehouse & Espresso Bar, 1726 20th Street, NW
Situated along 20th Street, Filter Coffeehouse and Espresso Bar is just far enough removed, yet so close, to the bustle of Dupont Circle. It’s a perfectly pleasant hideout to enjoy excellently crafted coffee. Filter is one of the few locations in DC where you can request a flat white with confidence, and its highly skilled baristas are among the best at coaxing out the intricate profiles of specialty coffee using the pour over method. Enjoy an array of coffees from Ceremony Coffee and watch for ultra rare offerings, like the Panama Geisha, which at $10 a cup is still worth the price.
Dolcezza Gelato, 1704 Connecticut Ave, NW
Dolcezza Gelato is praised for its Argentinian-style gelatos, which span flavors that were both previously unknown and now unforgettable to my palate. But the coffee selection at Dolcezza is just as wide-ranging and delectable as its gelato. At the Dupont Circle location, you can find a roster of some of the country’s top specialty roasters, including the likes of Ritual, MadCap, Verve, Handsome, Four Barrel and Counter Culture. Dolcezza is the perfect spot to grab a coffee and relax at its window seating while you spy on the pedestrians passing down Connecticut Avenue.
Bean & Bite, 1152 15th Street, NW
This downtown coffee shop on Borderstan’s southern-most reaches has a service model that seeks to compete head-on with the likes of Starbucks and Caribou that dominate coffee in this part of town. Bean and Bite is a quick-serve concept shop that includes a brewed coffee station serving MadCap, Intelligentsia and PTs Coffee. If you’re so inclined, you can also take the reigns of one of two super-automatic espresso machines. Grab a freshly prepared salad or a cookie on a quick break from the office.