Washington is fast becoming one of the most wired cities in America. At least when it comes to coffee. Here's the latest from the District's caffeinated community:
Pound the Hill: This week, owners Karl Johnson and Frank Rinaldi sent a heartfelt note to their e-mail list, explaining they were closing the coffee and sandwich shop after more than four years on Capitol Hill. They will officially pull the plug on Sunday.
"The mixed emotions we feel at Pound The Hill are overwhelming and you can't read any longer on your iPhone," the owners wrote in the e-mail. "So let's just wrap it up with this; THANK YOU for being fantastic customers!!"
Starting Monday, Bourbon Coffee will take over the space and introduce java hounds to its direct-trade Rwandan coffee. But other than changing beans, general manager Heather Lowe expects much to remain the same on the Hill. "A lot of what we are will not change," Lowe says. "We're keeping all of our staff and all of our management."
Chef Albert Griffin will also remain, Lowe says, so you shouldn't see any radical transformations with the menus. In other words: No need to continue the "Nutella panic" that has hit the Pound. One significant difference, however, will concern alcohol. There won't be any beer and wine — at least for now. Lowe says the new owners plan to apply for a license. Also: Don't expect new Bourbon Coffee signage for a few weeks.
Pound the Hill, 621 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, will become Bourbon Coffee on Monday, 202-621-6765, www.poundthehill.com.
Mia's Coffeehouse: Capitol Hill may soon become coffee central. Later this month, Mia's Coffeehouse is scheduled to open in the former Bella Market space. There's not a lot of information on the operation yet, but according to its Web site, Mia's will serve both coffee and tea, with a small menu of muffins, scones and croissants. The coffee selection will include a brewed house blend, cold-brew iced coffee and single-origin beans prepared with a French press or via pour-over.
Mia's Coffeehouse, 101 15th St. NE, is scheduled to open Monday, June 29, www.miascoffeehouse.com.
Qualia Coffee: Last month, the Washington Business Journal broke the news that Joe "H Street" Englert will be a partner in an Ivy City project that will somehow combine a beer garden, a coffee shop and a specialized rock-climbing gym (a form of exercise known as "bouldering," which sounds like something University of Colorado students do in their dorm rooms).
The coffee shop will be a second location of Qualia, the Petworth oasis for single-origin beans from around the world. Owner and roaster Joel Finkelstein signed a lease last year and originally planned to move into the existing structure on Mount Olivet Road NE. But a city structural engineer determined "the whole building has to come down," Finkelstein says. "The bad news for us is that it seriously delayed our time line."
At this point, Finkelstein doesn't expect to open the second location until mid-2016. Whenever it does debut, the new Qualia will have two coffee bars, a dedicated space for educational workshops and a lot more room for roasting. The larger operation will mean Finkelstein won't have to continue his weekly 12-hour power roasts to prepare for the Arlington and Columbia Heights farmers markets, where he sells dozens of bags of beans every Saturday.
"We just don't have the capacity for that kind of [roasting] blow out," Finkelstein says about his current space on Georgia Avenue NW, where less than 10o square feet are carved out for roasting.
Finkelstein may cut back on the number of beans available at the coffee bar, which currently runs to 12 daily. "I might have to pare it back to bring it down to nine or 10," he says. But at the same time, he plans to have more varietals available for espresso and cold-brew preparations, instead of, for example, a single espresso of the day selection.
The owner is not sure how many seats the new space will have, but whatever the final number, none will be dedicated to urban coffee-shop squatters and their laptops. Finkelstein says the second location will not have WiFi.
"That space is really going to be focused on coffee and not other things," he promises.
Qualia Coffee, 1240 Mount Olivet Road NE, is tentatively scheduled to open mid-2016, www.qualiacoffee.com.