Best 10 Coffee Shops in DC

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Navigating any big city is an acquired skill, particularly if it comes to the nation’s capital where new novelty cafes and coffeehouses pop up almost daily. And while Yelp and other user-based review apps can help you find just the right type of place and sort out the bad apples, some coffee bars and specialty shops simply remain overlooked by the general public in favor of franchise stores.

Now it’s true that the best type of promotion, even in the digital era, has always been the good old word-of-mouth, but if you are visiting—whether for work or leisure—there’s simply no easy or fast way to go through all recommendations offered by the locals, especially if you need to find a place on the go. So with that in mind, let’s take a brief look at what the capital’s best downtown coffee shops have to offer.


The Tryst Trading Company Company 


There is something to be said about the quality over quantity, though Tryst’s selection of caffeinated drinks can hardly be called wanting, with over eighteen positions currently on offer, not counting the flavor options. 

Apart from the classic coffee brews, the baristas offer hot chocolate, masala chai, and many more, including hot and iced espresso-based drinks with homemade syrup toppings. 

Those who love their beverages a little stronger might find great use of the coffee shop’s bar that can always treat you to some punch, red sangria, and Irish coffee, all in a range of classic and specialty flavors, though beer and wine aficionados can always rely on the bar’s selection of beers and wines.

Tryst’s do not adhere to lunch or brunch time restrictions, serving both menus throughout the open hours. Mostly featuring familiar breakfast foods like waffles and bagels, there are a few delicious classics available, such as breakfast burritos or spinach & feta quiche.

Almost all brunch positions come with gluten-free and vegan options, and Tryst’s bakery also won’t leave you wanting with its classic selection of croissants, muffins, brownies, and sweet pies.


Zeke’s Coffee of DC


Zeke’s Coffee of DC immediately stands out for their versatile form of operation as the best coffee roasters in DC. Using only sustainable Arabica coffee beans, Zeke’s Coffee offers carefully-selected pound packages of single-origin coffee grinds as well as custom blends as arranged by Zeke’s baristas.

The menus in both stores are identical save for a single extra position available in the shop on the 15th Street—locally-made popsicles in a range of flavors. As for their beverage selection, Zeke’s serves nearly all classic coffee drinks with a few specialty options and office-friendly 10-12-portion sets.

In addition to traditional hot drinks, the shop makes popular cold brews, including nitro-infused cold brews and delicious seasonal options. The food menu includes savory and sweet pastries delivered fresh from local bakeries, including the customer favorites like Republic Kolache, Ellē, and Bluebird Bakery.


EMISSARY


Conveniently placed in the Dupont Circle, Emissary is a great alternative to the Northwest-based Slipstream DC branches and a haven for coffee lovers of all backgrounds, displaying the values of inclusivity, LGBTQ-friendly environment, and diverse hiring policies.

The coffeehouse serves a variety of bar snacks and breakfast foods—including vegetarian and vegan options—all of which are available to order at any time of day.

Apart from traditional breakfast foods, the menu offers artisanal cheese and charcuterie boards with finocchionia salami, prosciutto, and sweet coppa. The bar specializes in light alcoholic drinks, namely craft beer, wine, and inventive cocktails, though beer and wine also have limited-position daytime menus.

If you are looking for the coffee bar in DC that’s bost cosy and affordable, Emissary would be just the right place for you, given that the bar provides safe space for private events with specialized menus.


Vigilante Coffee Company


Though Vigilante is based on Maryland, they do have an accessible pop-up set up in DC’s Eastern Market. Here it’s possible to purchase single-source beans and fresh grinds, thermal mugs, brew gear, and of course get a taste of Vigilante’s best brews. Vigilante’s brewing gear and roast selection are also available online.

Vigilante works with specialty coffee, meaning the beans are sourced from smaller farms all over the world, including Colombia, El Salvador, Peru, and Indonesia. These beans are not grown in smaller batches, allowing for higher quality control and ethical harvesting.


Ebenezers Coffeehouse


201 F St NE, Washington, DC 20002

Monday: 7:00 am—3:00 pm

Tuesday to Friday: 7:00 am—6:00 pm

Saturday-Sunday: 8:00 am—6:00 pm

Located within four-minute walking distance from Union Station, the Ebenezers Coffehouse is a perfect meeting spot for a casual work lunch or an evening out if you’re looking for a cosy time spent with friends and with chill live music. 

The prices are more than lenient for most traditional coffee and tea beverages offered by the store, with slightly steeper rates set for espresso-based drinks, freezers, and seasonal/specialty drinks (among which honey lavender latte is a particular customer-favorite).

All caffeinated and decaf beverages are available with dairy and plant-based milk options, including whole, skim, soy, oat, and almond. For those who avoid caffeine, the store reserves more beverage options such as Italian soda and lemonade.

Ebenezer’s breakfast menu keeps it simple, serving classic breakfast bowls made at the shop as well as fresh goods from other vendors, namely sweet and savory Kolaches from Republic Kolache, Mission Muffins best selection of muffins, and pastry from Bread and Chocolate.


BIG BEAR CAFE


1700 1st St NW

Washington, DC 20001

(202) 643-9222

Open Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm;

As its name might suggest, Big Bear Cafe is more than just a coffee house—combining the regular coffeeshop duties with those of a full-meal cafe, deli store, and farmer’s market.

Big Bear currently offers grocery and farmer’s market products, prepared family meals, home-made sauces, and various food items from local vendors, making it a worthy alternative to Northwest franchise shops like Compass Coffee or Qualia Coffee.

Breakfast and lunch menus are pleasantly extensive, with a range of savory, sweet, and spicy meals, including focaccia, burritos, pasta as well as a few eye-catching specialty meals.

Though Big Bear started out as a small farmer’s market, they quickly earned the status of a versatile and inclusive, even expanding their activities to support live music and private events. The cafe’s secluded green patio and cosy atmosphere make it one of the best coffee shops in DC to study, especially if you need to pass a kill a couple of hours between classes.


Dua Coffee


923 15th St NW

Washington, DC 20005

(202) 347-4404

Monday to Friday: 8:00 am—2:00 pm

Saturday: 9:00 am—2:00 pm

CLOSED Sunday and Labor Day

As the first DC-based coffee shop specializing in Indonesian coffee, Dua Coffee is able to satisfy expats and fans of Indonesian roasts alike.

The store’s location is only a compatible 4-minute walk from Lafayette Square, making it a serious contender as the best coffee seller near capitol hill in DC due to its convenience for regular commuters and visitors of the capital.

Over fifteen options for classic coffee drinks, a variety of teas, both hot and cold as well as decaf, popular iced beverages, and memorable signature drinks like Kopi Kedua and Klavee. There is also a wonderful selection of pre-bottled 32-ounce cold drinks, including the deliciously cold hibiscus tea and matcha mango which is more of an acquired taste. 

Each coffee-based drink on the menu is made using sustainably-produced beans of single-origin, all imported from the Indonesian archipelago. Anyone who likes homemade coffee brewed from beans such as West Java Kamojang, Flores Wawo Muda, Aceh Takengon can purchase them separately.


Filter Coffeehouse


Situated in the heart of one of the oldest neighborhoods in DC, Filter Coffeehouse & Espresso Bar serves freshly-roasted brewed coffee five days of the week from early morning to well into the afternoon.

The Filter Coffeehouse serves all classic types of coffee drinks available in brewed, pour-over, and french press forms. Other beverages include chai tea, iced coffee, hot cocoa, and a variety of regular teas. A wide choice of professionally-baked pastry is also available daily, from scones and muffins to croissants and bagels.


Black Restaurant Group, LLC


Black Coffee is more of a cafe & restaurant than a regular coffee shop, serving only the best breakfast and brunch dishes together with the traditional selection of brewed coffee and espresso (hot and iced), chai teas and lemonade, all of which qualifies it as one of the best coffee shops in DC for a date. 

Black Coffee’s decaf Golden latte is a hit all on its own, served hot with turmeric, though there is the espresso-shot option available. Breakfast is served all day, including small plates, sandwiches and salads, soups, and full breakfast entrees. One of the tastiest specialities of the menu is the piquant butternut squash hummus served with grilled pita.

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