Thrillist: Get Your Caffeine Fix at DC’s Best Coffee Shops
“DC’s coffee scene is as diverse as its population. There are neighborhood hangouts, froufrou cafes, gelato parlors that will add extra joy to your brew, and full-service eateries complete with all the bells and whistles. Whether you’re a diehard single-origin advocate, a fan of elaborate latte art, or a wandering Wi-Fi seeker, you’ll have no trouble finding a local District coffee shop to call your home away from home. Here are the city’s best places to fuel your most socially acceptable addiction.
Coffee is a ritual. This was especially true for two former Marines who bonded over definitely-not-third-wave coffee during deployment in Afghanistan. When they returned home, they decided to channel their appreciation for good coffee by opening a shop and roasting their own beans. Their production facility sits at the back of the spacious and naturally lit cafe, so your beans have the shortest commute ever from the carbon-efficient roaster to your cup. Compass opened its second location in The Shay last year, and has plans for a spacious new cafe in Ivy City. The team travels around the world to source beans from small farms, and their hard work pays off. You can choose from one of nine carefully crafted blends or a single-origin coffee, and highlights from the accessible drink menu include the Nutella latte and the mint cold brew. Don’t miss the other locally sourced goods, like kolaches and kombucha. This place has communal tables, and you might get a visit from the very approachable owners… or you can just buy a bag of beans so you can brew the perfect cup at home.
When you’re looking for a great cupcake to accompany your coffee (so… always?), Baked & Wired has got you covered. This artsy shop’s house-made baked goods are whimsically named (ahem: “Uniporn and Rainho” cupcakes) and its “cakecup” description acknowledges that these bad boys are “Big enough to share, but who are you kidding?” It has a typical selection of espresso and coffee drinks, all of which are adroitly prepared with beans from Stumptown, Intelligentsia, PT’s, Elixr, and other places that know the coffee bean business. It also serves microbrewed chai from Oregon, so you can get down with your hipster self.
One word: affogato. Any place that lets you sweeten your espresso with gelato is automatically a win in our book. Dolcezza is known for its creative seasonal gelato flavors, but the coffee program is also the real deal. It sources beans from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and offers a full roster of espresso drinks and single-origin drip or pour-over coffee. For a treat that feels way more indulgent than it is (nope, not a scoop of gelato dunked in espresso, sorry), check out the nitro cold brew at the CityCenter location. The creamy, nitrogen-infused drink looks more like a Guinness than a coffee.
It’s the model of efficiency: shop, sip, and eat without leaving Maketto. Erik Bruner-Yang’s cafe-restaurant-bar-retail hybrid is a modern minimalist’s dream. But it’s not just a stylish spot: the Japanese-inspired cafe serves Vigilante Coffee and fresh pastries baked in-house by Frenchie’s Bakery. Gain some cool points by drinking coffee from the fascinating siphon bar, which was the first of its kind on the East Coast, then go buy some shoes, or order Taiwanese/Cambodian breakfast or lunch.
Peregrine Espresso doesn’t mess around with its coffee. Owner Ryan Jensen is a career coffee addict, having worked for various coffee companies since his first stint in a coffee shop in college. He and his staff have won plenty of awards in barista competitions, and it shows. The local chain has infiltrated the city, with locations at Eastern Market, Union Market, and 14th Street. It sources Counter Culture Coffee for its espresso drinks, single-origin filter drip, or pour-over coffee. For java geeks, private coffee classes are available at the Union Market location: each class is limited to four students, and topics include espresso fundamentals and better brewing at home.
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Featured photo of Compass Coffee by Lani Furbank.