The following post is part of the “‘I Can’t Stop Drinking the Coffee’: Exploring DC’s Coffee Scene” series.
Just like Compass Coffee, The Coffee Bar has a very straightforward approach to their coffee and the coffee shop itself. They make good coffee, and don’t need to attach any bells or whistles to make it special or any better than it already is. Just like with Compass Coffee, I like this approach, as it keeps the focus on the coffee and not the extras that many coffee shops rely on. This line from their website encompasses this approach: “We want to make specialty coffee accessible to everyone, from your average Joe to the coffee connoisseur.”
They also believe coffee should be its own food group, which I’m totally on board with.
The coffee shop is in the shadow of U Street, but is not nearly as busy or loud. TCB is tucked away a few blocks over, but is clearly a neighborhood favorite. In the few hours that I was there, I witnessed several regulars come through, as well as groups of people using the coffee shop as a place to gab or do business. In fact, the girls sitting next to me were talking shop about some kind of business or blog or something they were in charge of. I know this because they were very loud.
What I ordered: I ordered a latte and an everything bagel with cream cheese. Very basic, I know, but also delicious. As I said, TCB seems to have an no-frills-needed approach to their coffee and food, which makes ordering very simple. At the same time, you’re not cheated with what you get. I love everything bagels, so this was a great way to start my morning. Plus, added bonus, their bagels are from Bethesda Bagels, which I’ve been told are some of the best bagels in the area.
I say it this way because this was my first time trying their bagels. My thoughts: delicious, but you’d have to work really hard to make a bad bagel, right?
Latte Grade: The latte was warm, had great coffee flavor (good coffee/milk ratio), and was decorated with a simple and pretty heart. As I said above, they make good coffee, and it showed in the latte. The coffee flavor shined (shone? my English is failing me) through as I enjoyed the drink. Overall grade: A.
What I’ll get next time: I’m interested in the London Fog or dirty chai, both drinks I’ve heard of before but have never ordered. I’m a fan of earl grey tea, so having it in latte form is sure to be delicious. Plus, I’m very curious as to what chai tastes like with espresso. I could see it being either delicious or disgusting. Let’s be honest, it sounds like a drink a tired and poor student made up because espresso and chai is all they had in their dorm room at the time.
Best time of day to go: I got there at 8:45 and it was already brimming with people.The space inside is sort of limited, with only an options of sofas or communal tables. I ended up sitting at the communal bar, which was fine until the chatty girls made an appearance. The advantage and disadvantage of the communal bar is that you are near people ordering. Good for people watching, bad for doing work. A steady stream of people wondered through and the place stayed busy the entire time I was there, which I’m sure is representative of the whole day. However, since the space inside is limited, and it’s a stupid swamp town outside (where is the Leslie Knope gif for this? Someone please make one.), I would go in the morning to avoid having to sit outside if all the spaces inside are taken.
The ambience: TCB has coffee-related quotes written on the chalkboard behind the counter, which I love. The place seems equal parts relaxed, and fun-loving, as evidenced by the chill attitude of most people in there and the 80s music. 80s music! I love it. There were a lot of familiar songs, but my favorites? “Jenny,” which I love because 1) I have a cousin named Jenny that we used to sing this to and 2) 5 of the number’s 7 digits were the copy code for my first job at UMD, which I always found hilarious. “99 Luftballoons” was the other favorite, which my dad did NOT realize was IN GERMAN until my best friend and I told him when we were in high school.
Good for: As I said earlier, there were plenty of people talking with friends or doing business, as well as people working on their computers–like me! The communal spaces provide a perfect place for both, as evidenced by the communal bar where I was sitting. On my right was another man working on his computer; on my left were the three girls doing business. One of them watched my computer when I went to the bathroom, which was a plus, but then she also let her phone receive texts full volume and sang along (OUT LOUD) to one of the songs, which was a big, big negative. In addition to those of us inside, there was a steady stream of people grabbing things to go. It did start to get loud midday when more people showed up, which was my cue to leave.
Will you need a jacket? It’s so effing hot outside that a jacket, even inside, is unnecessary right now.
Other things to know: They love coffee, which makes me love them! This is definitely a place I could see myself easily returning to a second or third time.
Did they spell Katherine with a K or C: WITH A K! Yay.
What I did: I had a typical Monday morning: I caught up on emails and worked on blog stuff. I also read some of 12 Years a Slave, which I’m reading for a job I start in a few days.
Stupid thing I read online: I read about celebrity dads and what they tweet, which was actually kind of cute. My favorites: #12 and 18.
On Friday, I’ll share my thoughts on La Colombe, the third coffee shop on the list.