Repost/Update: I originally wrote this post in July 2017, and enough has changed in the DC coffee world that it's already time for an update. New establishments have quickly become favorites, and one or two favorites have shut their doors. Plus, I'm hoping 2018's warm weather is just around the corner, which means iced coffee/cold brew sipping season is almost here!
Let's be honest, coffee makes the world go 'round. Well, it at least makes my world go 'round. I am far from a coffee snob, but I love nothing more than sipping on a cold brew in the summer or wrapping my hands around a warm mug in the winter. I don't need anything fancy; basic coffee with a splash of skim, whole, or almond milk hits the spot.
A few years ago, DC got its act together in the coffee department. This city saw a boom of new and independent coffee shops, cafes, bakeries, and roasteries open their doors. Suddenly, we all awakened to the greatness of better quality beans. Don't get me wrong, I will happily gulp down my Dunkin' Donuts, and sometimes pop into 7-Eleven even with other options in the neighborhood, but the increased variety in coffee date spots is welcomed.
Since this city's swell in coffee goodness, I have taken it upon myself to try as many of my options as possible. This is by no means a complete list of all the establishments I've visited, but rather a curated list highlighting some of my favorites for various reasons. Taste is of course the most important factor, but many of these locations also provide amenities like comfortable seating, outdoor patios, reliable wifi, or scrumptious snacks.
Warning: this is a long post, but well worth it. You can always jump down to the bottom of the page and look at the map if you are in a hurry.
Le Caprice DC - I'm a little biased here. Le Caprice is just one block from our condo and provides one of the better outdoor seating options in the city. Unfortunately, their wifi has become much less reliable in the past few months. This family-owned bakery and cafe specializes in French pastries. Your mouth will water the second you walk in. My favorite thing about Le Caprice though is that they are located on the west side of 14th Street, which makes it the perfect place for a weekend afternoon coffee in the shade.
Coffy Cafe - Another one of my neighborhood favorites, Coffy Cafe's full menu of breakfast sandwiches and crepes makes it an A+ spot for meeting friends on a Saturday morning. The decor takes you back a few decades to 1975 (in the best way possible) with mismatched tables and perfectly worn in velvet couches.
The Coupe - Still keeping things in Columbia Heights, the Coupe is one of five sister sites around town, but the layout of this location makes it my favorite for coffee sipping and blogging. The full-service restaurant is divided into three distinct sections, the middle of which is reserved just for those of us wishing to get some work done. But don't worry, the full menu is available no matter where you sit.
Harrar Coffee & Roastery - DC is home to the largest Ethiopian population outside of Ethiopia, so we get to benefit from the deep traditions of Ethiopian coffee culture. If you're looking for delicious brew off the beaten path, promise me you will make a stop here! This is also one of the few places in the city doing their own roasting.
Odd Provisions - This may not seem like an obvious coffee pit stop, but this corner store, which sells many products made in DC proper, is a hidden gem for cold brew. Grab a plastic cup from the freezer to fill up and you'll see why; gigantic coffee ice cubes! Make sure to grab one of the many locally baked bagels, cookies, or kolache on your way out the door.
Elle - This is one of the newest additions to the DC coffee and dining scene. The coffee counter/bakery/bar/restaurant opened in the old Heller's Bakery space in Mount Pleasant just a few months ago, and I'm already in love. While there is no WiFi, it's the perfect place to grab a snack, a seat, and good book in winter.
Capitol Grounds Coffee - Shifting gears now to a corner coffee shop catering to hard-working people in Foggy Bottom, Capitol Grounds holds a special place in my heart. Their $1.75 coffee has been warding off my desires for afternoon naps at work for a number of years now. If you aren't in a rush, order a sandwich too and sit outside.
Bourbon Coffee - Another weekday savior for me. Now with three locations across the city, Bourbon Coffee specializes in single-origin Rwandan coffee. They also rank high on my list for terrific wifi access and ample indoor seating options.
Emissary - This place takes the cake for indoor seating options. Located in the terrace level of a large corner unit in West End, Emissary has enough seating for you, your friends, you coworkers, plus everyone's extended family. This is the newest addition to the neighborhood and I'm rooting for it to stick around. It's also the perfect pit stop on your way into or out of Georgetown.
Dog Tag Bakery - Speaking of Georgetown, this place is a must. Not only is it a hidden gem on a quiet side street away from huge crowds, but it's also a coffee shop with a mission; they employ post-service military veterans through a work-study program. I will also attest to their incredible homemade baked goods.
Compass Coffee - If I was attempting to rank this list, Compass Coffee would find itself at the top on most days. Now with locations dotted across DC, Compass Coffee roasts their own beans. While the original location in Shaw is often too crowded these days, it's worth a trip just to see the impressive roaster in the back. For a quieter experience, try either the Foggy Bottom or Chinatown locations.
Chinatown Coffee Co. - For something a little off the main drag, step inside Chinatown Coffee Co. This long and narrow cafe boasts an impressive amount of seating and is a great location for anyone looking to get a little work done in the middle of the day.
Sidamo Coffee & Tea - Another great place showcasing the art of Ethiopian coffee, Sidamo is holding down a strong tradition on H Street, a neighborhood seeing rapid change. I certainly hope the increased development in the area brings even better business to this often overlooked gem.
La Colombe Coffee Roasters - I'll be honest, it took me a long time to jump on this bandwagon. Personally, I felt La Colombe's roasts were a little too dark, and didn't quite get the hype when I had so many other great coffee options. This all changed though. The addition of the nitro latte quickly pulled me along, and now it's one of my top options on a steamy, DC summer day.
Glen's Garden Market - Glen's is a neighborhood market on overdrive. Most people rightfully think of Glen's as a great place for a gourmet sandwich, a sunny spot for drinks after work, or even their go-to grocery, but to me, it will always be the coffee shop across the street. Before it became a city-wide phenomenon, Glen's was simply the new market right outside my front door with reliable coffee. It's a shame I don't live there anymore.
Three Fifty Bakery & Coffee Bar - I try not to pick favorites, but I've saved the best for last. Three Fifty is another find from a previous neighborhood, one for which I still make special trips. Well-brewed coffee, homemade desserts, great outdoor seating, and reliable wifi all converge on this easy to miss, but totally worth it location.
Walking enthusiast, and kitchen experimenter currently living out my dream in Mexico City, Mexico.
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