Coffee shops, cafes, whatever you prefer to call them, DC has its fair share of spots that serve up the caffeinated, addictive beverage in some form or another. Some are bakeries, others more restaurant-like, and others are self-identified coffee shops. I'll take on the dubious task of chronicling some of my favorite coffee spots in the city. Of course its not a dubious task, but in order to really examine the reasons behind their greatness (as decided by me) of any specific location, I'll deliberately visit each one, including a couple I've never been too, on a quest to uncover what's so unique and cool about them. If you have suggestions, well, suggest away. I know DC residents are sometimes fiercely loyal to their favorite coffee joints, so I'll mostly be heaping praise, and being posi. Previous Coffee/Riot posts: Sticky Fingers, Baked & Wired, Dos Gringos, M.E. Swing, Grape and Bean, Crumbs & Coffee, Open City, Tryst, Ebenezers Coffeehouse.
Wow. Haven't profiled a coffee shop in a while. But I have been logging visits and drinking lattes. Should be able to publish another one in a few days. Bourbon Coffee is a gorgeous shop on located on the retail level of the new USGBC headquarters building at 2101 L Street NW. The space space feels warm with earth tone paint, stoneware columns and African themed art, patterns and other accoutrement.
Bourbon's West End location is the first in the United States. The shop sells African coffee and was founded in Rwanda where it first appearing in 2006. As far as I understand there really isn't a middle man for the purchase of beans. The owners literally buy direct from Rwandan farmers and have personal relationships with producers. That's as "flat" as you can get in this business. I'm sure it makes for easier quality control as well.
I've had a soy latte by a couple of different baristas there and all were fairly consistent. Ha, first time in I ordered a medium, to stay, and ended up with quite a bit of coffee! The medium mug was huge! Good thing the coffee in it was good. Right now, Chinatown Coffee still makes the best soy latte in DC, but Bourbon's was good as well. Not burned (which used to be a common problem for me with soy drinks), and just the right level of bitterness. For this part of town, its the best thing going coffee-wise.
There is free wifi for the email challenged and enough couches to make a Sears furniture showroom jealous. You can order a soy latte, grab today's front page and bun up on one of the plush pieces of furniture in this place. VERY comfortable and accommodating atmosphere. I'm sure business types will call this place home for meetings every now and then. The staff was friendly as well and the other customers in the place looked content behind their computers and drinks. So, give this place a try. A good story behind its inception, a good product and very comfortable setting make it a place I'm sure to visit again, too.