Continuing the trend of coffee shops that deal in dueling diuretics, Vigilante Coffee plans to add beer and wine to its newly expanded Hyattsville location later this year, but owner Chris Vigilante assures his caffeinated faithful that, despite the addition of alcohol, his focus will remain on the joe.
"The alcohol is definitely secondary," Vigilante says about the beer and wine program, which should launch around April. When the shop does start pouring suds and vino, it will join a growing list of java houses that double as bars: Chinatown Coffee Co. (a pioneer), Slipstream, Colony Club, Northside Social (another pioneer) and others.
Closed since Monday for the final stages of an interior renovation, Vigilante Coffee will reopen Friday with about 75 seats, or about a 50 percent increase over its previous capacity. The extra space is not just for more drinkers but also for bands, which regularly grace the coffee house.
In fact, four bands will perform on Saturday as part of Vigilante Coffee's grand reopening party at the Hyattsville shop. Look for the musicians to start plugging in around noon, or whenever they are fully caffeinated. They're expected to perform until 7 p.m., which is Vigilante's new closing time. The shop previously shut down at 4 p.m.
"We have a lot of folks that try to rush over right after work to get one more coffee, and it was always difficult for them. We have such a growing influx of University of Maryland students coming over to study and stuff," the owner says. "It just made sense to offer more time to them."
Once Vigilante secures his liquor license, he plans to build an "international" beer program with the help of outside consultants. The idea, he says, is to differentiate the beers at his place from those at Franklins, the restaurant and brewery located just across Baltimore Avenue. Vigilante expects to offer about 10 beers and seven or eight wines.
"We haven't locked it into one specific type" of beer, Vigilante says, "But I'm a big fan of Belgian beers so I'm sure you'll see a lot of that on the menu." Not coincidentally, Vigilante has been consulting on the coffee program at the Neighborhood Restaurant Group's latest project, the Belgian-focused Sovereign in Georgetown.
One immediate change customers will notice — aside from the extra seating — will be the new-and-improved coffee bar, where the shop will tinker with brewing equipment such as the AeroPress, Kalita Wave pour-overs and siphons. The baristas plan to experiment with each bean until they find the equipment that brings out the best flavors in every coffee.
"So, like, if we have a Kenyan, we're going to try three to five different brew methods [on it]," Vigilante explains, "And if it ends up that AeroPress is the best one, that will be the only way that we will offer that coffee."
Even if you really hate the AeroPress?
"Yeah," Vigilante says, with a laugh. "Just like when you go to a Derek Brown bar and they tell you, 'Hey, we're going to make you a cocktail' and they just make you something fantastic, that's the way we are with coffee," adds the owner. "Just trust us. We're going to give you something fantastic."
Vigilante Coffee reopens Friday at 4327 Gallatin St., Hyattsville, vigilantecoffee.com. Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.