The Wydown Coffee Bar has many elements that co-owners Chad McCracken, left, and his brother Alex, right, created themselves, including art made by splattering coffee on paper.

There’s something rewarding about drinking direct-trade coffee beans that have been meticulously curated. And there’s something altogether charming when you’re doing it at the Wydown Coffee Bar, D.C.’s new java shop with a DIY spirit.

Designed with the help of Edit Lab at Streetsense, the little-coffee-shop-that-could opened its first brick-and-mortar location mid-June after two successful pop-ups along U Street. At the new locale, brothers and owners Chad and Alex McCracken display art they made by splattering coffee on thick watercolor paper. And they MacGyver-ed the pour-over stand using steel rods and address numbers purchased from a hardware store.


The McCrackens used house numbers (spot the 8s? to build a pour-over stand.)

“I’m sure the person at check-out thought our home address was 8888,” Alex says.

The McCrackens’ coffee offerings are just as tailored. The Wydown serves blends from three roasters: Kaldi’s Coffee of St. Louis, PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. out of Kansas and Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee, all companies the McCrackens consider leaders in the coffee roasting industry.

To optimize their customers’ experience, the brew brothers opted for equipment that was efficient yet didn’t compromise quality.

“We want it to be as fast as possible, because we’re doing everything manually,” Alex said. “I’ll show you what’s under this table. It’s very DIY.”

Sitting below the counter is a boiler from a 1970s Faema espresso machine that looks more steampunk than streamlined. The McCrackens tapped Bruce White of Perfect Brew Services in Baltimore (“He’s a coffee mad scientist,” Alex says) to outfit the tank with modern electronics and Teflon tubing that can handle unlimited hot water, thus eliminating the need for a bulky hot water tower.

With the exception of the French pastries (the dough comes from Patisserie Poupon in Georgetown), all of the food is homespun. Baker Sophie Camp cooks throughout the day to replenish cookies, scones, muffins, house-made granola and ginger-and-lime caramel corn.

All of the pastry placards are hand-typed on a 1950s Swiss typewriter and wedged into wooden cubes, which — you guessed it — the McCrackens hand-sawed themselves.

The Wydown Coffee Bar, 1924 14th St. NW; 202-507-8411, thewydown.com. (U Street)

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