Steeping it in the family

November 14, 2013
zekes

The next time you stop at Zeke’s Coffee (2300 Rhode Island Ave. NE) for a quick caffeine fix, don’t expect to meet anyone who goes by that name. “Zeke is a term my grandfather used to describe his family and those in his inner circle,” says John Kepner, who owns the just-opened roastery.

The name is fitting, considering the operation is a family affair: The original Zeke’s, in Baltimore, was founded in 2005 by Kepner’s uncle; the Pittsburgh outpost is run by his cousins. (We can only imagine the energy levels at their Thanksgiving dinners.)

The new space is definitely more roastery than cafe: Seating is sparse and ambiance is nonexistent. But over 20 varieties of 1-pound bags are available for home-brewing ($14-$40), and at least three flavors are available “on tap” at any given time ($1.75-$2.75). If what you crave didn’t make the cut, Kepner offers pour-overs of your preferred flavor ($3).

Beans are sourced from far-flung places (Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Yemen) and roasted in a Sivetz fluid bed roaster. “It’s like a giant air popper,” Kepner says. “The beans never come in contact with a hot surface, so there’s no risk of burning them.”

Holley Simmons is the dining editor of The Washington Post Express. When she’s not reporting on local restaurants and tastemakers, you can find her sewing a dress from a 1950s pattern or planting a windowsill herb garden. Contact her at holley.simmons@wpost.com.
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Nevin Martell · November 14, 2013