For years popular commercial coffee chains ruled the streets of D.C. — but District coffee lovers yearned for something more. This yearning created a huge jump of growth in the coffee culture of D.C. that is showing no signs of slowing down. There seems to be no better time to be a coffee drinker in the District than right now.
CUPS has landed in DC (finally!) and to celebrate, we’re giving a special shoutout to 10 can’t miss coffee shops while in our nation’s capital.
Grace Street Coffee
An independent and locally-owned coffee company located in Georgetown, Grace Street Coffee is tucked away on–you guessed it–Grace Street. Sharing their space with South Block’s fresh juices and SUNdeVICH’s sandwiches, Grace Street serves up awesome pour-overs made from responsibly sourced beans. Their baristas are super knowledgeable, so feel free to ask any coffee-related questions.
Located on the second floor of a massive (read: 6,000 square foot) communal marketplace in the heart of the H Street Corridor, Maketto Cafe provides a full coffee bar experience. They proudly serve local Vigilante Coffee and all of their bread and pastries are made on site. After grabbing a coffee you can shop around, get a bite to eat and hang around the bar. It’s truly the perfect space for an early morning or to start your night out well-caffeinated.
Baked & Wired
Located in Georgetown near the C&O canal, Baked & Wire is considered a staple to the busy neighborhood where you can catch students, locals and tourists alike enjoying amazing hand-crafted espresso to small-batch baked good and cupcakes with names like “Menage A Trois” and “Elvis Impersonator AKA The Unporked Elvis”. From pour-overs to espressos, each cup is handcrafted by their enthusiastic and knowledgeable baristas using a huge variety of roasters.
With Cuban drinks, music, and decor this lively cafe oozes Cuban culture and flare. A super social spot located in the Cardozo neighborhood gives locals a little taste of Cuba (their original location is in Northern Virginia.). Try classics like a cortado or espresso or go for the Cafe Cubano, “A small but potent shot of coffee, sweetened with sweet Cuban crema”. Not to mention this space also has a beautiful rooftop, so stop by for some delicious Cuban treats and maybe hang around a bit and hit the rooftop with some friends and grab a couple of drinks.
In the heart of Logan Circle, Slipstream Cafe doubles as a cafe and a cocktail bar. The front of the shop are for those grabbing a quick coffee while the back is for those who want to get more insight and converse with the Slipstream baristas. The coffee, which can be brewed either as espresso or filter, is organized into four taste categories: comfort floral, bright, and fruity. Try the cascara soda made using coffee “cherries” or the almond cashew cappuccino.
There’s a ton to say about this Dupont Circle favorite – the biggest being their embodiment of the Swedish concept, “fika,” which basically means taking some time out of the day for a coffee and cake break with your friends. Emissary accomplishes this feel with an environment that’s cozy and bright. Come through solo, or with some friends to enjoy solid espresso and pour over drinks along with some of their delicious pastry options.
Big Bear Cafe
Big Bear Cafe is nestled comfortably in south Bloomingdale right on the edge of Truxton Circle. Locals rant and rave over their beautiful outdoor patio and brunch but the real highlight is that they brew a new variety of house coffee and espresso every single week. Head in early on a weekend morning to secure the best seat and grab some great breakfast sandwiches, along with a different variety of espresso and house coffee weekly.
Wydown Coffee Bar
Run by two brothers with roots in the midwest, this Cardoza cafe is all about quality and hospitality. From a rotating selection of roasted-to-order beans to array of baked goods, the Wydown serves to please. The Wydown team taste tests every menu offering to make sure it’s up to par before it hits your palate. Come here for a quick caffeine boost, or stay a while (if you’re lucky enough to get a seat!) but beware, no wifi!
Located in Capitol Hill, this “Little Sister” of Rose’s Luxury is not stuck in the shadow or it’s “older” sister. Little Pearl has carved out a name for itself as a cool coffee and wine bar with a stylish and airy outdoor garden space. Come by in the day for delicious pastries accompanied by your classic coffee drinks but also try one of their “specialty drinks” like the “London Fog” and the “Iced Banana Latte”.
How could we forget Compass Coffee? A beloved D.C. “mini-chain” Compass Coffee embodies simplicity and utility. Their cafe in Shaw houses their roaster — so it’s a bigger space than your average cafe, but this doesn’t take away from the airy and comfortable vibe. Compass uses single origin beans and also 9 different blends from coffee all over the world. Try their nitro cold brew if you’re ever and pair it with their locally supplied Poppy’s Bagels.