Earlier this month, crowds packed into Zeke’s Coffee in Northeast D.C. to try something very peculiar: a cup of coffee brewed from beans that had been pooped out by a type of Southeast Asian cat called a civet.
Known as kopi luwak, the strange brew is believed to taste smoother than the average joe thanks to enzymes in the civet’s digestive tract that lessen the bitterness. And it costs a pretty penny: Zeke’s charges $280 a pound for the roasted beans.
Besides Zeke’s, other local cafes are offering rare and unconventional (translation: often pricey) cups of coffee.
“People want to know, ‘Where did my beans come from?’ ” says Chris Vigilante, founder of Vigilante Coffee in Hyattsville, Md. “People over time learned to appreciate a nice glass of wine, and you see that happening now with coffee.”
While it may be a while before coffee gets the sommelier treatment, there’s no denying that a 99-cent cup of bodega coffee won’t cut it for true caffeine enthusiasts. For them, we offer the following. Holley Simmons (Express) with reporting by Annabel Epstein
Cup of Geisha, $30
Mockingbird Hill, 1843 Seventh St. NW
Mockingbird Hill offers a cup of Geisha beans, which are lauded by coffee connoisseurs for their zestiness and notes of jasmine, honey and lemon. Geisha beans are some of the rarest in the world due to the high altitudes needed to grow them. “We have a lot of people come in and order a cup of it as a special treat,” says Cory Andreen, who oversees the coffee program at Mockingbird Hill.
Cup of Bella Vista, $11
Slipstream, 1333 14th St. NW
Every year, 50 or so of the most discerning coffee pros judge the Cup of Excellence, a competition among hundreds of coffee farmers. Slipstream is serving the reigning champ, which is grown in Colombia and distributed by Madcap Coffee. “It’s grown at a high altitude on a mountainside, so there’s better nutrients in the soil,” says Madcap co-founder Trevor Corlett.
M.E. Swing’s Coffee Service, $12
The Oval Room, 800 Connecticut Ave. NW
Oval Room’s tableside coffee service takes approximately three minutes. Locally roasted M.E. Swing’s beans are hand-ground using a burr grinder and brewed in a syphon, a double-chamber glass apparatus that looks like it belongs in chemistry class. “It’s dramatic,” bartender Tyler Philips says. “The entree is the most exciting part of the meal, but we wanted to spice up the time after.”
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