Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Coffee/Riot: M.E. Swing

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. On the other hand, I appreciate coffee of varying quality, so all you purist can start your own blog. Previous Coffee/Riot posts: Sticky Fingers, Baked & Wired, Dos Gringos.

M.E. Swing

Good things apparently come in ugly packages. Not far off of the 42 bus line, and only one block away from the White House, lies the M.E. Swing Company. Its housed in an ugly 1970s era office building on G Street near a smattering of office-lunch spots like Subway and a few nondescript delis. Inside was a different story. The owners luckily kept many of the counter pieces, old roasting equipment and other accoutrement from the earlier incarnations of the coffee shop. The warm wooden-paneling and two-seaters with stools help take the edge off and give M.E. Swing a more homey feel. M.E. Swing specializes in importing and roasting high quality beans and there were several patrons who searched for their favorite roast by the pound during the few minutes I stuck around and observed. Mostly everyone patronizing looked to be a regular and I guess due to the location, everyone was apparently on a lunch break. There was one kid with a skateboard, but no tourists or out of towners appeared to come in.

In all fairness, I should have played to the strength of the place and gotten a regular drip cup of coffee, but I went with a soy latte. Not a bad choice I must say. The espresso was really flavorful and I plan to make another trip just for a plain shot of espresso and a cup of regular coffee. I rarely buy coffee by the pound, but I may try a small amount from this place. I always seem to get the coffee which tastes great at the shop, but looses all the flavor and aroma when put through my coffee maker at home. Then again, I'm not willing to put down a small fortune for any of the home machines either. Maybe after my cashing out my savings after I stop working at age 90, I can buy one of the $20,000 coffee makers sold in Japan. But I digress. M.E. Swing is one of those places which goes about its daily business as if it really doesn't need or want your approval. Its dedicated customers have kept the place in business since 1916 and are rewarded with a quality product and a staff that seems to know the craft, terminology and coffee business ins and outs. Now of only they could acquire a space with a little more umph and less ugh. They'll get another visit from this blogger however. Gotta try the drip...

M.E. Swing is located at 1702 G Street NW.