M.E. Swing Co., Inc.

$$$$ ($14 and under)

Editorial Review

While most of the coffee shops on this list have yet to celebrate their third or fourth birthdays, M.E. Swing has been serving hot, fresh coffee to downtown Washington since opening a combination shop and roastery at 1013 E St. NW in 1920. Things have changed since then: The shop moved to 17th and G streets NW in 1994, and the beans are now roasted in Alexandria, but the coffee remains consistently great. Touches of Swing's history remain throughout the new shop: Art-deco signs with quotes from Talleyrand and Disraeli; antique wooden coffee bins; high round tables with chrome-plated stools. The espresso and Americano are solid, but the reason to visit Swing remains drip coffee, especially the house blends. Three or four are usually available, including High Mountain - a medium-bodied combination of high-altitude coffees from Sumatra and Central America - and the full, smooth and sweet French roast, which is never charred, unlike at some coffee chains. (Swing also sells fair-trade coffees from single-estate and cooperative farms in Africa, Asia and the Americas by the pound and by the cup; check the chalkboard for the latest selections.) The heart-of-government location doesn't get much foot traffic on weekends, so the shop is open only weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. -- Fritz Hahn, Sept. 23, 2011