From Willis Shawver. Follow him on Twitter at @WShawver or email him at Willis[AT]borderstan.com.
Local coffee shop Peregrine Espresso (1718 14th Street NW) recently won first place in the America’s Best Coffeehouse Competition. Along with taking home the top prize of $2,500, Peregrine Espresso also won the distinction, and bragging rights, of being named the best coffeehouse on the East Coast.
As reported by WTOP, Peregrine Espresso sent three baristas to New York City to participate in the competition. Each coffeehouse was judged on each unique aspect of the coffee brewing experience including bar management, teamwork, presentation and taste.
Competitions to decide the central and western region winners will be held in Chicago and Seattle later this year.
Visit Peregrine Espresso’s website to learn more about their award winning coffee and service.
From Dafna Steinberg. Follow her @AlizaySteinberg. Email her at dafna[AT]borderstan.com.
Borderstan is sorrounded by fashion and fashionistas up and down and all around. Here we showcase their style.
Fashion Friday: Street Style showcases fashionable people in Borderstan. After I photograph them, I ask them what they were thinking when they got dressed.
Here are Diala and Laila. I met them in Peregrine Espresso on 14th Street. They had matching Marc Jacobs handbags.
- Diala: “I just like the bright pants and the polka dot combo”
- Laila: “Just day off comfort, I guess.”
Espresso… sweet, tempestuous mistress of the mouth — how I adore thee.
There’s no drink nor culinary fancy that arouses my senses quite like a well-crafted pull of dark, full-bodied, heavenly espresso. When executed with care, the espresso shot is a brief and beautiful, glorious yet fleeting experience that encapsulates the vast nuances of coffee in a single, intense moment.
Enjoyed perfectly alone, it is equally comfortable working in collaboration with milk to create elegant drinks that have endured for generations the world over.
But espresso can be incredibly allusive, and temperamental to work with in even the most well-intentioned hands. Great espresso — and hence, great espresso drinks — requires careful attention to detail in all aspects of its preparation. The talented and lovely staff at DC’s Peregrine Espresso understand this, and execute as well as anyone the classics of espresso beverages. For that reason, I paid a visit to the 14th Street NW cafe to indulge in a few staples of espresso-based drinks.
You may already be familiar with the following beverages. Indeed, they are classics. But, by taking a closer look you may find cause to expand your horizons, or at least elevate your consumer knowledge of these fine drinks. We’ll start with the espresso itself, demystify drinks like the macchiato, and cover favorites like the cappuccino and latte.
Simply put, espresso is finely ground coffee that is brewed with a small amount of water that passes through at a very high pressure for a brief time. A typical “double-shot” of espresso takes only 20 to 25 seconds to produce 1.5 to 2 ounces. It is the foundation of espresso drink preparation, and skilled baristas don’t overlook its importance to the overall character, even when infused with steamed milk.
Extraction is a term used by coffee professionals to describe the amount of dissolved solubles in coffee. Its specifics can get rather technical and jargony but, in plain terms, extraction is the difference between a good shot and a bad one.
An under-extracted espresso can be excessively acidic or sour, while an over-extracted shot can taste unpleasantly bitter. Somewhere in the middle is the figurative and literal sweet spot, which speaks to well-extracted espresso that brings out sweetness, thick body and an array of yummy flavors, from smoky to fruity to spicey and beyond.
In Italian, macchiato translates into “spotted.” It also tells us a bit about how this oft-misinterpreted drink should appear. The espresso macchiato is an espresso shot marked, or spotted, by a small amount of steam-textured milk. And although some corporate coffee purveyors find it appropriate to market this drink in a 16-ounce up, e’hem, a true macchiato is roughly one-to-one espresso and milk. In the example below, the macchiato is marked with a heart design.
Interestingly, this legendary espresso beverage is thought to be named for its resemblance in color to the robes used by the Capuchin friars. The cappuccino is heralded in much of the espresso-consuming world for its balance of steamed milk and espresso. In all, the drink measures 6 ounces, which leaves room for velvety steamed milk, while not masking the exquisite flavors found in the espresso itself.
While the cappuccino is the quintessential espresso and milk drink worldwide, Americans traditionally prefer the cafe latte, or latte for short. This drink is prepared with a larger volume of steamed milk than the cappuccino, and the resulting drink typically measures 12 ounces. When the milk is perfectly textured, the skilled barista has ample room to create rosettes, hearts, tulips and other designs. In the photo below you can spot a double rosetta in the latte.
(A quick note on terminology — while the latte is a beloved espresso beverage in America, requesting a “latte” in Italy will get you a glass of milk! Take care when traveling abroad.)
Though cow’s milk is true-to-form for espresso drinks, these classic beverages can also be prepared with soy milk, and, in some cases, almond milk. Or you can opt for non-milk alternatives, like an Americano, a shot of espresso poured over hot water. If you can, explore them all! You can find skillfully crafted beverages such as these throughout Borderstan, including at Peregrine Espresso at 1718 14th Street NW.
From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @frijolita.
Your barista has a dirty little secret. (Starbucks baristas excluded.) Or at least mine did. Until he told me all about it. DC, see, has a seedy, espresso ground littered underbelly.
It’s a little like fight club. Only brighter. And not in a basement or abandoned warehouse. And there’s no… fighting. Okay, it’s not like fight club at all, but up until DC’s hipster barista contingent issued a public challenge to their counterparts in Philadelphia, the latte art fight club that is Thursday Night Throwdown had gone largely unheard of. (This month it was at Flying Fish Coffee & Tea in Mount Pleasant.)
By now we’ve all realized, DC’s coffee scene is growing up! And growing up quickly according to Jon Riethmaier, editor of DistrictBean.com. “The DC coffee scene is really solid, and there’s a lot of evidence the foundation has been set for major growth in the immediate-to-near future,” says Riethmaier. “There are shops in DC that are neighborhood institutions. These shops have elevated DC’s coffee consciousness and deserve a lot of credit. There’s also newer ventures and soon-to-be-open shops that will continue to raise the bar. The future looks bright, for sure.”
And so Thursday Night Throwndown was born. The event originated as a community building effort and a way for baristas to socialize outside their chosen coffee house to meet new people. “It’s a chance to get together with other coffee people, catch up, see what’s going on in other cafes,” said Eric Barth, barista at Dolcezza Gelato in Dupont Circle.
The way it generally works is baristas from DC’s finest coffee shops — Dolcezza, Filter, Peregrine, Chinatown Coffee Company and the like — gather in a designated coffee shop where they’ll duke it out over latte art of all designs. Proper brackets are drawn up and baristas present their best ferns, hearts and pandas (not really, I haven’t seen a panda yet) to a panel of judges. The winner proceeds to the next round, and so on and so forth until one barista is crowned the queen/king of all baristas in DC.
Want to try your hand at artfully pouring frothy milk? It’s $5 to participate and check out the rules for participating over on their blog. Call your spot before 9 pm, limit 30 participants, winner takes all.
I’ve attended two TNT events myself now and I have to say, they’ve succeeded in creating a community social event for sure. Each time the venues have been packed to the hilt, with plenty of beer passed around and a jovial spirit in the air.
Though, I must say, unless you’re competing, are besties with your barista or cheering someone on, it’s definitely an in-the-club event. Spectator sport this is not… at least not yet. Unless you arrive early, nabbing a spot by the judge’s bar can be difficult until the competition proceeds to the third round of pouring. That’s how many people gather for the Throwdowns! It’s pretty much wall-to-wall baristas.
Want front row seats at the latte art action? Arrive early or come a little on the late side. You’ll want to nab a prime spot by or near the judges so you can check out everything first hand.
Let’s say you don’t get front row seats though. Mill around and start chatting people up about a brewing method or a particular roaster. As Riethmaier told me, “It’s a place to really nerd-out.”
At its finest moments, TNT is about a love of coffee and the people who bring it to you. “I’d been in school for 6 years,and liked the social aspect of coffee… customers and talking to people,” says Barth. “[As a barista] you can kind of effect people’s days, you can make it as good as possible while they’re doing something they would already do.”
If you want to learn more about DC’s coffee scene, DistrictBean.com should be your first stop. Riethmaier is an unabashed “advocate for the culinary pursuit of coffee” as he put it. And you’ll be hard pressed to find a group of folks who love the bean juice more than even the most fiendish coffee addict you know.
- Filter’s 4 Steps to Making a Great Cup of French Press Coffee
- Borderstan Candids: Kaffeeklatsch at Local Coffee Spots
- Peregrine Espresso to Open This Week
- Profile: Filter Coffeehouse & Espresso Bar
- Restaurant Profile: Dolcezza on Connecticut Avenue
Hot to Trot
Part of the reason we love Counter Culture coffee is the fact that you can’t just buy this sustainably harvested fair trade bean anywhere. Luckily, Peregrine now has a new Pedaler by Peregrine coffee delivery program that brings Counter Culture to you. On Thursdays between noon and 4 pm, Peregrine staff members will bring your whole bean coffee right to your door if you live between Columbia Road and H Street NW, as far east as 7th Street NW and as far west as Rock Creek Parkway. In true Peregrine style, you’ll also receive a bean bio of your roast and a discount on coffee brewing equipment. Visit the Pedaler by Peregrine website to start your coffee subscription using a 10% coupon.
Street Fair Fare at H Street
For a view of a different neighborhood (without a liquor license moratorium, for now), make the trek to H Street NE for their 2011 Festival. It runs noon to 7 pm and includes street parades, a pie eating contest, drum lines and marching bands — essentially, all the things that make street fairs awesome. There will also be food from the local restaurants, a fleet of food trucks, local artists and vendors.
DC Huffington Post Launches
Do we need a California-based identity with a national base of contributors to launch a blog to cover ‘real’ DC from a hyperlocal perspective? We’re not scared of the competition! It will be interesting to see how the venture works with the HuffPo logo and brand with a decidedly local to DC focus. If it succeeds, it may be due to their pick of an editor — Michael Grass, the co-founder of DCist. Check out his explanation of the HuffPostDC venture here.
Senate Version of DC Spending Bill Does Not Include Abortion Ban
In the ongoing battle of DC’s rights and the GOP agenda, DC scored a point or two for autonomy in the budget battle. While federal funds are still blocked from paying for abortion, the city tax revenue can continue to fund abortion in the city limits. The Washington Post reports on the Senate draft bill which will now go to the full appropriations committee for a vote. It remains to be seen what the House of Representatives will do with the city funding provision, though.
Streetscaping Back On the Ledger for Georgia Avenue
Score one for Ward One and their attempt at beautifying Georgia Avenue NW. After a protracting battle with the Mayor, Councilmember Jim Graham emerged with $1.44 million in restored funds for the project, Washington Examiner reports. Of course, while we are all for trees, it leaves a budget shortfall for renovating an old warehouse for DC police. What do you think of the budget shifting?
Venue Openings in DC Gay Nightlife
Expect Phase 1 to take over the former Apex space and Mova to reopen on the busy 14th Street NW strip shortly, says the Washington Blade. Also expect (or hope, or protest, depending on your inclination towards bars on 17th Street NW) a new inhabitant in the old Club Chaos space. Uproar Lounge and Restaurant has launched a Facebook page and hopes to open this summer. However, no one has come forward to try to claim the existing liquor license for Chaos, which would be necessary to open given the area’s liquor license moratorium. Expect more uproar over Uproar before it’s all said and done.
New Chef at DC9
The rock and roll bar has seen quite a few changes in the past year, but this is one of the more welcomed ones. They’ve hired Amber Bursik, who has worked with top DC names like Frank Ruta (Palena) and Barton Seaver (formerly of Hook). There are some seriously delicious sounding Southern-inspired dishes on the menu (anyone that doesn’t like fried green tomatoes may not like puppies and the flag) and some vegetarian dishes as well, such as her take on Red Beans & Rice.
From Alejandra Owens and Luis Gomez
The latest addition to 14th Street offers Borderstanis a place to caffeinate on our way to work or the farmers market. Peregrine coffee joins Borderstan after having been open on The Hill for three years, taking the popular Murky Coffee’s space in Eastern Market.
Set to open the week of May 23 at 1712 14th NW, Peregrine will offer Counter Culture Coffee, artisnal chocolates and baked snacks and pastries, according to owner Ryan Jensen. For now, seating is minimal but patio seating will soon be on its way. For you coffee shop-squaters and work-from-homers, there’s no wifi, for that you’ll have to head to Mid City Caffe.
We’re always glad to see another small business join Borderstan… welcome, guys!
Check out Alejandra’s food and cooking blog, One Bite At A Time, and follow her on Twitter @frijolita.
A stroll down 14th Street provides a couple of quick updates on two new businesses: Thaddeus Curtz’s Standard hamburger place and Peregrine Expresso.
The lights were on Monday night at 1801 14th St. NW, the to-be-site of Standard, where we found Curtz and some workmen. No firm date on an opening except “soon.” Curtz is known as a chef at 2 Amys pizza in Cathedral Heights.
You may recall that Curtz ran into some initial opposition from side street residential neighbors on the hours he initially proposed for the outside seating area. He cut back the outdoor areas and the place is a go at the northeast corner of 14th and S Sts., former home of Garden District (now at the southwest corner.
Across the street on the next block at 1712 14th St., the window sign at the upcoming second location of Peregrine Espresso reads, “Coming… Relatively… Soon.” So there you have it. Check out Tom Hays’ earlier post for more info: Will Peregrine Espresso on 14th Offer “Pedaler” Serivce? It’s the former location of Flowers on Fourteenth, which moved a couple of doors south after Salsa Cafe closed its doors (the Alexandria location is still open).
Got that? You might call it “musical businesses on 14th.”