At D.C.’s newest cafes, a haute cup of joe
There’s no sign of a crash in Washington’s bubbling coffee scene. Since we asked readers to tell us their favorite coffee shops a year ago, the field in the District has grown even wider. A handful of the new cafes offer not only WiFi and perfectly pulled espressos, but also Austrian coffee, better-than-average food and, in some cases, swank public spaces to spend a lazy weekend or get some work done. Here’s where you should be sipping now.
By day, before Czech restaurant Bistro Bohem opens for dinner service, the cafe next door buzzes with pop music and the whir of an espresso machine. Launched in September, Kafe Bohem is bistro owner Jarek Mika’s nod to European cafe culture. He sources the coffee from Viennese roaster Julius Meinl. In that spirit, there are a few unusual offerings on the chalkboard, including the Grosser Brauner, two shots of espresso and a side of steamed milk, and the Einspanner, black coffee with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. WiFi is free (the password is printed on your receipt), and the space is copious: When the cafe is full, guests are routed to the closed 45-seat restaurant, and the reverse happens in the evening.
600 Florida Ave. NW. 202-735-5895. www.bistrobohem.com. Monday-Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday-Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Pound opened in 2008 in Northeast Washington, but after it moved to a large Eastern Market storefront last year, it picked up both weekend traffic and a true coffeehouse feel. The latte spiked with chocolatey Nutella is Pound the Hill’s most popular beverage (you can even pair it with a sizeable Nutella scone), but it’s also hard to go wrong with black coffee here. Pound serves coffee from respected Kansas roaster PT’s. Like Kafe Bohem, the shop has addressed the issue of low evening sales by becoming a restaurant after dark. The pleasant side effect is elevated daytime snacking: Soups, baked goods and salads prove a cut above standard coffeehouse fare.
621 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. 202-621-6765. www.poundthehill.
com. Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This spacious, stylish Columbia Heights diner, opened in October by the owners of Tryst and the Diner, feels like a mash-up of those perennially popular Adams Morgan hangouts. Half the space buzzes with the frenetic clatter of a busy restaurant (like the Diner, the Coupe is open 24 hours), while the other side, like Tryst, offers cozy, mismatched brocade sofas and coffee service for laptop-toting telecommuters and students. The light-bodied java here comes from North Carolina roaster Counter Culture, and although the drink menu isn’t as broad as Tryst’s, the rest is comfortingly familiar, down to the animal crackers served with every cup.
3415 11th St. NW. 202-290-3342.www.thecoupedc.com. Open 24 hours.
Less than a block from the Coupe, this three-year-old restaurant expanded in November to add two dozen seats and breakfast and lunch service in a bright, welcoming cafe. French presses are still on the menu, but a new espresso machine also turns out cups of coffee by Ceremony Coffee Roasters and D.C.’s own Vigilante Coffee Co. Fans of the brunch fare will kvell over the fact that pastry chef Lizzy Evelyn is now baking at Room 11 daily, filling the space with the intoxicating smell of sticky buns, muffins, quiche and those pitch-perfect scones. Laptop warriors, however, will have to camp out somewhere else; there is no WiFi.
3232 11th St. NW. 202-332-3234. www.room11dc.com. Daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The second location of the popular Dupont Circle shop opened in the spring with a vastly different feel than the original. Credit the international clientele from the nearby World Bank for the bar-height tables and espresso bar so customers can sip their espressos and leave in short order. Another factor is this location’s controversial edict: No laptops are allowed. A small second level has five tables for those who want to take a meeting or sit down to enjoy Filter’s signature Aussie-born flat-white, a version of a latte with less milk.
1916 I St. NW. 202-223-0100.www.filtercoffeehouse.com. Monday-Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.