One of my New Years Resolutions was to learn more about coffee. With Swing’s coming next door to my office, I figured it was about time I learn more about what keeps me going while on the job. No more swill for this foodie. Part of this resolution was to veer away from “corporate coffee.” Call me a snob (I know), call me a jerk (that hurts), I can take it.
What I’m looking for is a neighborhood coffee shop with good pastries, good coffee (I’m not expert on what constitutes good coffee), and a good atmosphere. I’m really into what the Danish call Hygge (pronounced Hoo-gah). Basically it means a relaxed atmosphere, good friends, good food, and comfort. If you know me, you know I’m all about that. What I can’t stand is the austere coffee shop. Uncomfortable chairs, chilly atmosphere, unfriendly staff. I don’t want a get-in/get out vibe. I want something where you can know your baristas and they want you to know about the coffee.
On the hunt for this mythical coffee shop, I was excited to find that The Coffee Bar was opening a mere 3 blocks from my house. Anticipation was high and so far they have not disappointed. During a four day streak where I was in need of coffee on the weekend and then sick, I spent some time in this new U St area haunt. So far I like what I’m seeing. Again I’m not a coffee critic and I don’t really drink espresso either, so in this regard my opinion may not be as valuable.
But when it comes to food and atmosphere this place has what I crave. Good bagels from Bethesda Bagels (though when I went the other day their bagel drop had been stolen) and good pastries pair well with the on tap and pour over coffees. The staff is friendly and they have some overstuffed couches and arm chairs (more of those please). The wifi is free and there is a relaxed atmosphere that on a Saturday morning is perfect for a cup of coffee, a croissant, and a good book. My one gripe is that there isn’t any sort of free refill for people drinking in (I understand the desire to discourage free loaders, but one cup doesn’t kill). I think that a pay for one, get one free deal is a good way to encourage people to frequent your coffee shop. I don’t mind paying the low cost for some good coffee, but perks are always nice (especially at a neighborhood spot).
If you’re a U St resident and want a change from Starbucks and Peregrine (Blind Dog Cafe is a different post for a different day), then this is place for you. On the weekend (before my Union Market run) you’re likely to find me curled up on a couch.