The Wydown coffee bar opens today on 14th Street

They've gone through two pop-ups, many construction delays and, at the end, a last-minute tangle of red tape with D.C. government. But brothers Chad and Alex McCracken will finally debut their specialty coffee bar, the Wydown, today at the Louis at 14th.

Alex, left, and Chad McCracken are the brothers behind the Wydown. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Alex, left, and Chad McCracken are the brothers behind the Wydown. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

When the door swings open this afternoon, the 26-seat Wydown will quickly become a state-of-the-art coffee destination. The shop is stocked with the latest gadgetry in coffee-bean extraction: Baratza gizmos that grind beans to specific weights; an espresso machine with three water boilers; a programmable batch brewer that's like a "super-consistent barista"; and a repurposed 1970s-era boiler with a Teflon tube leading to a countertop water spout, which allows the Wydown crew to ditch counter-hogging hot-water towers.

"We can have hot water on the front bar instead of the back bar," Alex McCracken says about the jury-rigged water-heating system.

"No water tower," older brother Chad McCracken chimes in. "Sometimes with the water tower, you have to go to the back bar and it's over there. As Alex was saying, we want to do everything we can possibly do to make [coffee brewing] as fast and as efficient as possible. The water is perfectly filtered. It comes out of the tap unlimited. We can tap that thing all day long."

One thing that will be limited is WiFi: The brothers are thinking they'll restrict it to "non-busy" periods, shutting off Internet access during mornings and weekends. That's the current plan, Chad McCracken says, but it's subject to change. Well, subject to change whenever the system is installed; at present, the Wydown has no WiFi, period.

"We'll see how it goes," Chad McCracken says.

As for Wydown's baking program, everything except the French pastries are made in-house, using dairy products from Trickling Springs and "organic and local fruit/ingredients when possible," Alex McCracken notes in an e-mail.

Baker Sophie Camp's menu includes both sweet and savory options: blueberry muffins, scones, coffee cake, brown-butter chocolate chip cookies, granola bars, bacon-sage-fontina biscuits, smoked-paprika-and-cheddar corn muffins, ginger-lime caramel corn and rosemary-chipotle spiced nuts. The French  pastries, whether croissants or pain au chocolat, are baked in-house with laminated dough from Patisserie Poupon. There are gluten-free baked goods, too.

"While we have some classic offerings, many are not traditional," Alex McCracken writes. "Our most popular scone is blackberry-lavender, not exactly a British staple."

The photos below, except for the one of coffee wall art, were taken at a Wydown friends-and-family gathering earlier this month.

The Baratza Forte machines grind coffee beans to pre-programed exact weights. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The Baratza Forte machines grind beans to pre-programed weights. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The Strada espresso machine from La Marzocco has a separate water broiler for each grouphead, so baristas can dial in different temperatures for the same espresso bean to gauge variations. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The Strada espresso machine from La Marzocco has separate water boilers for each grouphead, so baristas can dial in different temperatures for the same espresso bean to gauge variations. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The brothers have repurposed a 1970s-era boiler, with Teflon tubing, which is attached to a water spout located next to the pourover station. The set-up allows a barista to brew a cup of coffee without having to shift from back to front bars to fetch hot water. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The brothers have re-purposed a 1970s-era boiler, with Teflon tubing, which is attached to a water spout located next to the pourover station. The setup allows a barista to brew coffee without shifting from back to front bars to fetch hot water. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Alex McCracken help design this custom-made pourover stations using supplies from the Home Depot. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Alex McCracken helped design the custom-made pourover stations, using supplies purchased from Home Depot. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The decor consists mostly of homemade watercolor art, featuring coffee as the "paint" of choice. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The decor consists mostly of homemade watercolor art, featuring coffee as the "paint" of choice. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The Wydown sells a variety of home-brew equipment, including pourover devices and branded Wydown gear. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
The Wydown sells a variety of home-brew equipment, including pourover devices and branded Wydown gear. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

 

The Wydown, 1924 14th St. NW, 202-507-8411. Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

 

Further reading:

Brothers McCracken test coffee program with Wydown pop-up on U Street

The Wydown pop-up on U Street ends Sunday

The Wydown coffee bar expected to open next week

Tim Carman serves as the full-time writer for the Post's Food section and as the $20 Diner for the Weekend section, a double duty that requires ingesting more calories than a draft horse.
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