From Jonathan Riethmaier @DistrictBean or email him at jonathan[AT]borderstan.com.
Kafe Bohem is off the beaten path. That is to say it’s both geographically situated outside DC’s busiest neighborhoods, and a clear departure from standard cafe fare. It’s different. Intriguing. And, dare I say it, a veritable Bohemian rhapsody. Kafe Bohem, the neighbor and sister property of Czech-inspired Bistro Bohem, opened in September 2012 in Shaw, and has since been infusing the DC cafe scene with culture and coffee.
Situated along Florida Avenue with a clear view of LeDroit Park, Kafe Bohem draws upon the cafes of Prague, and features true-to-form Viennese-style coffee, decadent sweet things and art Nouveau images from famed Czech painter Alphonse Mucha. Kafe Bohem owner Jarek Mika, who immigrated from then Czechoslovakia, hopes to have the same success in his cafe that he’s enjoyed in his restaurant. Bistro Bohem, which has been open nearly a year, attracts a loyal following of expatriates alongside neighborhood regulars who have developed a taste for schnitzel, pirogue and classic Czech dishes.
Kafe Bohem’s coffee program manager Lenora Yerkes was heavily involved in the cafe’s build out and conceptualization. She and Jarek set out to create a community-centric coffee spot, pulling from neighboring LeDroit Park and Shaw, but also inviting coffee-goers from across the District to relax, connect and enjoy themselves outside the home and office. The two have engineered a coffee program that compliments the Czech penchant for pastries and tarts.
Aside from coffee staples, like the cappuccino and latte, Kafe Bohem has introduced a line of Viennese coffee drinks that may be new to many, like the Großer Brauner (a.k.a, Big Brown), coffee with steamed milk; Einspanner, coffee with house-made whipped cream; Espresso con Panna, espresso topped with whipped cream; and the Mélange, a drink similar to a cappuccino, but with a large head of foam and dusted with cinnamon or cocoa. The cafe’s coffee comes from Julius Meinl, a Viennese roasting company based in Chicago.
Kafe Bohem occupies the former space of Trinidadian eatery Zee’s Restaurant. Since the closure of Zee’s, Jarek has expanded into the 1,100-square-foot space, which now shares a kitchen with his Bistro and acts as overflow seating during the evening. Similarly, customers of Kafe Bohem may be seated in the Bistro as needed during morning and lunch hours. Kafe Bohem closes at 5 p.m. each day, just as the Bistro opens for service.
Kafe Bohem at 600 Florida Ave, NW offers a taste of something different for DC’s coffee crowd. And to that, I say Na zdraví!
This article was originally posted on September 3, 2012, at District Bean.