Sun. Dec 5th, 2021

washington dc coffee guide

From the early days when John Adams, the second president and first resident of the United States in the White House, condemned tea as “impatriotic,” Washington, DC has been a city of coffee lovers.

Today, there has never been a better time to fight for the DC coffee scene. Statehood, long supported by a majority of residents, is back on the table in style. A busy political capital with no shortage of monuments, museums and points of interest (many of which can surely be enjoyed outdoors), a determined guest can keep busy for eternity without running out of sights to see. In times of health, DC is one of the most visited cities in the world, attracting travelers from all over the world. The city is only 68 square kilometers, but has a permanent population of about 700,000.

All these people who paint around the district must eventually find nourishment. Fortunately, DC’s restaurant scene has built a solid reputation, and some of the country’s best chefs have opened the store here. The specialty coffee scene also continues to strengthen its game. From fast-paced coffee establishments to smart seating cafes, DC has coffee covered.

This is not the first time we have guided readers to the coffee scene in Washington, DC, but much has changed since our contribution was published in the fall of 2019. Consider this a companion to this guide – together they paint a picture of this city’s thriving coffee culture, with new stories to tell, new cups to brew.

washington dc coffee guide

Dua coffee

Dua Coffee DC is the first international location for the Jakarta-based company. Located just a few blocks from the White House, they seek to impress with Indonesian coffee in this bustling international city. The cafe is bright and stylish with white brick walls, pendant lamps and dark wooden floors. The disc continues this theme with light at the top and dark at the bottom and is home to a La Marzocco Linea PB espresso machine paired with a Mahlkönig PEAK grinder. A Mahlkönig EK43S is used to grind batch brew and pour beans. The team at Dua Coffee, which exclusively offers Indonesian brews, trusts that local companies Nagadi Coffee and Vigilante Coffee Company are shaking. The hope is to show the diversity of tastes from the many regions of this multi-island nation. They also have a few specialties on cafe drinks and delicacies on the menu from their home country.

After closing for several months, the Dua has reopened with outdoor seating. Orders can be placed in person or via their mobile order page. A number of drinks in advance have been added to their menu for easier grab-and-go transactions. They have also introduced local delivery to their options.

washington dc coffee guide

Swings coffee roasters

For over 100 years, Swing’s Coffee Roasters has been supplying coffee to the DC area. This large oven still sells its original Mesco Blend, which was patented in 1918! The company has changed hands a few times since then, but is still run by passionate coffee experts. If you are interested in vintage coffee products, the G Street location houses original furniture and equipment from the early days of the company. As a local institution, it is worth mentioning in even the most modern coffee guide.

Swing’s Coffee Roasters has two DC locations, one on each side of the White House. The 14th Street coffee bar has beautiful mosaic tile floors that are almost too beautiful to step on, black quartz countertops and a tiled table in walnut and stone that is home to both La Marzocco GB5 and Strada espresso machines (it’s a busy place). The G Street coffee bar is also easy on the eyes and offers vintage coffee relics paired with modern quality tools, such as their four-group Strada. Well-worn wooden table tops and carefully laid tile floors create the feeling of an old soda fountain, but the espresso style has kept up with the times and is certainly not old-fashioned.

After closing both DC locations for a number of months, Swing’s Coffee Roasters has reopened its 14th Street coffee shop. The business is cashless and has new outdoor seating available. Orders can be placed in person or through the company’s mobile order page.

washington dc coffee guide


Located on the lower level of a large historic home in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, Emissary covers all your needs from morning to night. This cafe offers coffee from Counter Culture, a popular option in DC, but differs from the crowd with its creative food menu and full bar. This area is not only known for its historic buildings, but also for its lively LGBT festival, Capital Pride. The Emissary celebrates the spaciousness of the area and seeks to be a welcoming place for all.

From the outside it looks deceptively small, but inside there is plenty of room to stretch out. Old brick walls add charm to the interior, which is divided into three loose sections: cafe, bar and lounge. Customers are greeted by a coffee counter at the entrance, which serves breakfast in all manner of espresso drinks and pastries. Patrons can find bar seating by the windows, by the counter or grab one of the many cafe tables. As the day goes on, seated lunch and dinner become the norm, but the coffee counter remains open all day. In the evening, a separate bar serves cocktails, while the kitchen offers vegetarian-friendly delicacies.

After a brief closure, Emissary has reopened with new security measures in place. They currently offer both indoor and patio seating, as well as contactless takeaway.

washington dc coffee guide

Qualia coffee roasters

Qualia Coffee Roasters has served the Petworth neighborhood for more than 10 years and is a DC favorite. With an emphasis on roasting, this cafe exclusively offers coffee of one origin and aims to get beans in the hands of customers within three days of roasting – no matter where you are in the country. The roaster fills each label with no less than one section of information about the coffee and its source. Recently, another location has opened in the Eckington neighborhood, making their coffee more accessible to capital residents. The Petworth cafe is located just across the street up a couple of sets of old concrete stairs. Indoors, guests will find a compact and cozy coffee house with worn floors, a handful of comfortable chairs and some seating. The walls are decorated with local art and numerous local posters. pastries and bagels are local too! The coffee is shaken internally, and espresso drinks are made on a well-maintained Slayer espresso machine. If you are not lucky enough to grab a seat, head back to their patio where you will find a fun collection of picnic tables and benches under an awning and coffee bags hung as decorations.

Both Qualia Coffee locations are only open for online ordering and pickup.

washington dc coffee guide


Ellē is a multi-roaster cafe and restaurant located in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood. From opening until At 19:00, coffee, pastries and light snacks can be grabbed at the coffee counter. In the evening, the room turns into a seat-style restaurant. Although the extensive praise and accolades received are about the food, coffee is not just a hassle. The cafe counter features some premium burners, such as Onyx Coffee Lab, Tandem Coffee Roasters and Brandywine Coffee Roasters, all served by a team of enthusiastic coffee pros. The in-house bakery Paisley Fig offers some good crispy options for quick dishes. From the outside, the room looks small, but the vintage neon sign with the text “Hellers Bakery” may possibly mislead some (when turned on, only the letters ELLE are lit).

Elle is only open for online ordering and collection. Weekend pre-orders are available for meal sets, alcohol, pastries and more. Some outdoor seating is available.

washington dc coffee guide


Located in the fast-developing Navy Yard neighborhood, SOMEWHERE® is an in-store store. Primarily a streetwear store for the hippest, a good portion of the space is reserved for a fully functioning espresso bar. The environment is purposefully sterile: an empty white space that counts on the curated racks of clothes and shelves with sneakers to add color. The coffee counter itself is the same gray concrete as the floor, while the table top is made of the same stainless steel as the product shelves. Customers who are tired of browsing cute kicks can take a seat at the bar and enjoy a zen moment in this minimalist space. Coffee offers are brought to you by Vigilante Coffee Company, a local coffee roastery based in nearby Hyattsville, MD. The staff at SOMEWHERE® admit that the space may seem intimidating to new customers, but hope that in time, curious locals will call them their regular coffee shop. The clothes may be designed for the hippest, but everyone is welcome. Whether you’re just looking, planning to drop off some cash or just grabbing a batch brew, customer service is the focus here … err … SOMEWHERE®

Somewhere store frontage remains open for personal ordering and pre-order pickup. All items are for take-out only. They have added some outdoor seating.

Dc Tessier Cafe tells Kate Berry

Cafe Talt

In the bohemian Adams Morgan neighborhood, the Line Hotel is an area of ​​the capital bursting with restaurants and bars. Set in a 110-year-old church, this hotel is dripping with hip and modern hospitality. They are one of the smart new places with a huge lobby full of plush sofas, a bar with mixologists and filled with stylish guests and telecommuters. They also house a cafe in the antechamber called Cafe Spoken.

Coffee offers here by DC coffee roasters Grace Street Coffee and Junius Coffee, and the atmosphere is of course stylish. Hanging ferns and modern lighting weave over the matte black bar and its black marble countertop. The featured siphon brewers are a nod to Japanese coffee culture. A Mahlkonig EK43 grinds the beans precisely and a La Marzocco Linea Classic paired with a Mahlkonig K30 Twin grinder are the barista’s tools for espresso-based drinks.

The Line Hotel is the kind of place you want to end up when you’m stuck in DC and have some time to fill out: Bring a book or your laptop, grab a cup of coffee, and find a place to go down. Looking at people is excellent and the atmosphere is uplifting. It is an exercise in self-care; a short break.

Cafe Spoken opened during the pandemic, and staff are trained in security and cleaning protocols to keep customers safe from the virus. Lobby seating is currently located to ensure social distance.

Eric Tessier is a freelance journalist based in Providence, RI. Read more Eric Tessier on Sprudge.

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