The Great Coffee Debate

14 Apr

(Check out the full Hipster Barista collection to see where coffee and memes collide.)

Honestly, I wasn’t much of a coffee drinker until I came to D.C. Sure, back in undergrad I often found myself camped out at the local coffee shops with a latte in hand to get some homework done, but over the last few years I have definitely kicked it up a notch or two.

I have also learned that some people are ver-r-r-y passionate about their coffee selections. There are a few different camps – those who love Starbucks with all of their hearts, others who hate Starbucks with a vengeance in favor of local shops, and some who don’t really care as long as they get their caffeine NOW.

I fall somewhere in the middle. At home, I rely on my old reliable French Press filled with whatever coffee I happen to have  at the moment. Politics don’t really motivate my coffee decisions; I am an equal opportunity macchiato enthusiast. But I do have an appreciation for what my local coffee institutions bring to the table.

Below are a few stand-out purveyors of caffeine in the Capitol Hill neighborhood – do you have a favorite?

1. Starbucks

237 Pennsylvania Ave SE

What can I say about Starbucks that you don’t already know? I consider this location to be “my” Starbucks. A couple weeks ago we ran into Eric Cantor there and he was surprisingly pleasant. If you are feeling fancy, this particular shop is one of only about 250 Starbucks stores in the whole  U.S. that has the Clover Brewing System, a specialty filter that i can honestly say makes a difference. Also: there is an upstairs with a sweet fireplace a small conference room that you can reserve for meetings, book clubs, or whatev. It is kind of a neighborhood secret, so shhh!

2. Pound Coffee

621 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Pound opened up a year or two ago on Pennsylvania Avenue. In terms of ambiance, it can’t be beat. The iced nutella latte (!!) is a winner. It also serves a full menu (homemade hummus is my fave) and recently started selling beer and wine. This is the place that I will go when I need to  get some work done late at night. But beware – seating goes fast during peak hours and it gets a little too crowded for my taste. This is a great spot to grab lunch or a blended coffee beverage on the  go with a friend.

3. Peregrine Espresso

660 Pennsylvania Ave SE

Peregrine has two locations – the other is on U Street. They make hands down the best latte that I have had. Be sure to order an iced vanilla latte with whole milk if you can – don’t skimp on the non-fat (trust me, it’s worth it.) The down side – there is  not much seating and the line gets long.  I recommend  visiting Peregrine during a weekend trip to Eastern Market. But be aware – the serving sizes are a lot smaller than the Grande or Venti that you may be used to. This is coffee meant to savor.



6 Responses to “The Great Coffee Debate”

  1. HK April 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    Hey, Hey, Hey, as an official coffee addict, I have to add this coffee shop. 🙂 There is a place called M.E.Swing ( not far from GW campus . The place has almost 100 yrs of history. And the coffee is HEAVEN! 🙂

  2. District RestauRANT April 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    Okay (1) DON’T TELL ANYONE ABOUT MY STARBUCKS ON PENN AVE SE!!! Seriously, I’m there every single Sunday between church and work, doing school work– rain or shine, sleet or snow– and I HATE it when tourists steal all of the seats upstairs to just “hang out” while they wait for their Smithsonian iMax show to begin. Ughhh!!! Where were you in january when it was FREEZING?? I’ve been a devoted Starbucks Penn SE ‘member’ for two years now (ask Darrell, the barista) and I don’t need no wannabes forcing me to relocate.

    That said, I decided today that I didn’t want to put up with said wannabes, so I went to Firehook right up the street. I love this place. First of all, there’s NO ONE here ever (because they’re all too busy stealing my study spot at the end of the block). They have puh-LENTY of seating (and even rocking chairs and a plush couch in the back). AND their iced coffee is MAGNIFICANT. Seriously. I don’t drink coffee (I’ll get to that), but I would drink this stuff religiously if I had the money. And the sleep aids later. Also, their smoothies are out of this world. Get the strawberry made with orange juice. It’s incredible. And I just ate one of their egg and cheese croissant sandwiches— oh. my. God. Biggest croissant I have EVER seen. Made fresh. Baked fresh. Assembled fresh. AND it was only $3.50. Beat THAT, Starbucks. (No offense I love you.)

    (2) I’d love to learn how to drink coffee. Especially when its cold out, I’m always left with the sugary drinks as a substitute because I just can’t handle the taste of coffee (unless I smother the taste with said sugary stuff). I read a study (I’ll try to find it) that said that coffee (or maybe caffeine of any kind) significantly reduces your risk of some disease.. and then another that said it gave you better skin. Also, I just need a low-cal drink to replace all the sugary sh-t I consume on a daily basis. Any tips on weaning oneself ONTO coffee..?? 😉

    • NoTimeFor10 April 15, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

      I wish I liked coffee! I always thought I’d acquire a taste for it, but I haven’t.

  3. winniechao April 15, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    Mmm… coffee is my jam!

    Other DC recommendations:

    Big Bear Cafe –
    There is a small farmer’s market right outside on the weekends and Big Bear serves meals and more savory foods as well as coffee and conventional accompaniments.

    Baked and Wired –
    This Georgetown shop is known for its cupcakes, but also sells Stumptown and Intelligentsia coffee.

    Tryst –
    Also sells alcohol, a little less coffee shop and a little more trendy.

    Filter –
    I’ve never been, but I’ve heard really great things about this store!

  4. Allee Sangiolo (@asangiolo) April 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Filter is definitely a cool spot, but they people in there are HUGE coffee snobs. I actually met the owner one night at Pizzeria Paradiso and he was horrified when I told him that I occasionally enjoy a cup of flavored coffee. He acted like I had stabbed him in the heart when I said it, and I think I instantly lost all my credability, haha.

  5. Kate April 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    I can’t believe Big Bear hasn’t been mentioned here! I thought it was EVERYONE’S favorite hipster/coffee spot :). I’m actually not too big of a fan, it’s too expensive and I feel judged every time I go in there. I prefer my other neighborhood coffee shop – Windows Cafe – they’re super nice and the coffee is cheaper and in my mind – better.

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