Monday, November 23, 2009

Coffee/Riot: Chinatown Coffee Company

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 straight up coffee shops. I've taken on task of chronicling some of my favorite coffee spots in the city, on a quest to show what's unique and cool about them. If you have suggestions, go bananas. I'm not much of a hater or complainer 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, Bourbon Coffee.

Chinatown Coffee Company

...opened in late July on the corner of 5th and H Streets NW. The rather utilitarian corner (GAO government building, nondescript hotel) has gotten more lively recently with the opening of a few new restaurants and now Chinatown Coffee.

Everything about Chinatown Coffee has impressed me so far. Start with the employees. I love coffee. I appreciate people who love coffee. Their employees are so nice and friendly and can describe in detail the qualities and tastes of the coffee in play that day, each of the specialty drinks they serve and have no problems giving recommendations. I trust that whatever is being served at the time is going to taste fantastic.

Consistency is sometimes a degraded virtue, but not at this place. The soy latte is just phenomenal every time I order it no matter who is barista-ing (not a word, eh. well, it's a verb now. barista-ing). That will keep me and others coming back every time.

The decor is spartan, but warm, with a deep orange covering the walls and dark furniture along the the edges. No gimmicky abstract art or tattered couches. Lots of sharp angles, cold metal and a "here we are, this is our craft" open layout to the espresso machines, work and register area. Not many areas for mass gathering, but there are a few spaces up front to fit a group of four comfortably. A nice contrast from the clean and finished orange walls to the patches of exposed brick and unfinished spaces that appear around the shop.

There is a full menu of coffee products from lattes, drip coffee, french press and much more. Yes, I have had the soy latte about, I don't know, a dozen times so far. It's great! For the vegans, they're using the Pacific Barista Series Soy Blender milk. It's not sweet, doesn't burn and makes foam like dairy milk. That means in the hands of a trained professional, get ready for a sublime soy latte.

The winter months are nearly upon us. I can see myself hitting this place up for a small coffee (under $2 after tax) to start me up in the morning or get me through a tough afternoon. All coffee signs point to yes for this place. Keep up the good work.

Chinatown Coffee Co. is located at 475 H Street NW. It's open 7 days a week. 7a-8p on the weekdays, 8a-8p Saturday and 8a-7p on Sunday (fall schedule).