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Coffee Shops with Character

OCTOBER 19, 2015

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WHEN I WAS growing up in D.C. in the ‘70s and ‘80s, people brewed coffee at home in a percolator, Chemex or Bialetti, poured a mug from the office carafe or grabbed a styrofoam cup of corner-store brew. These days, a D.C. pedestrian — like John Cheever’s Neddy Merrill, swimming his way home through backyard pools — can caffeinate block-by-block through the city at cafes simple and swanky.

So, where to go? I’ve selected 10 places in the city that have character, a quality as essential for a successful pick-me-up as a perfectly timed pour-over or a buttery croissant.

  1. Coffee Nature
    4224 Fessenden St. NW
    Mon. – Sat. 7:30 a.m. -6 p.m.

    “I walked in and really liked the vibe,” says barista Kirstyn Rowen, who was working the counter during one of my visits. “We get a lot of regulars.” When I moved back to D.C. this spring after more than 25 years in California, I was over the moon at discovering Coffee Nature. Such a down-to-earth feel is uncommon in the nation’s capital. Homemade flyers announcing music shows and writing groups flutter in the breeze of the open door. There’s no rushing.

 

 

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I want a place that’s off the beaten path.

Georgia Avenue has several coffee shops that, given their distance from a Metro, are likely less-well known beyond their communities. Brightwood’s Wapa Café is a calm coffee shop/restaurant with a unique split-level design. Culture Coffee caters to a creative customer base, with live music performances and works from local artists. Harrar Coffee & Roastery serves Ethiopian coffee and is filled with art. Away from Georgia Ave, Sidamo Coffee & Tea is a cozy Ethiopian shop with a colorful interior. And while a shop just steps from one of Wisconsin Ave’s busiest stretches isn’t really off the beaten path, Friendship Heights’ Coffee Nature has the feel of a neighborhood hangout.

 

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