La Colombe

The following post is part of the “‘I Can’t Stop Drinking the Coffee’: Exploring DC’s Coffee Scene” series. 

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I was nervous about going to La Colombe Coffee. The fact that they have no wifi, coupled with a review on Yelp that stated the place was better to grab coffee to go, left me a bit wary of visiting. If it takes me more than 20 minutes to get somewhere, I’m not just going to grab the coffee to-go. And I know this whole visiting the coffee shops was my idea, but the rule still stands. A few weeks ago, I finally sucked up the courage to visit the place, with a back-up plan of walking to Macy’s (which I still did anyway) if the place was packed.

From the minute I entered to the moment I left, I kept thinking the same thing over and over: I don’t belong here I don’t belong here I don’t belong here.

Don’t get me wrong, La Colombe is a very nice coffee shop. It has a clean aesthetic, with small, simple tables, large art work, and a barista station that stretches almost the entire length of the place. The two-person tables are placed next to a wall of windows (which seem to be an old garage door), which gives the tiny space an airy and spacious look. The place has a perfect balance of well-brewed coffee, well-placed decor, and well-good intentions (I know that doesn’t make sense, but I wanted to keep the “well” thing going). The balance was too perfect, though. While I got a great cup of coffee, and got some writing done,  I felt as if the whole place might come crashing to the ground if pushed too hard. It felt like a well-oiled facade.

What I ordered: I ordered a latte. Surprise, surprise!

Latte Grade: The latte was tasty and warm, not hot. This made for great drinkability for the first few minutes, and then quick drinkability so I could soak up the latte’s flavor before it got too cold. The design on the top was pretty, but I unfortunately did not get to drink the latte in one of their pretty cups. When I ordered, there were no seats available, and the awkward “I don’t belong here” took over. Anyway, the coffee was good, despite the kitschy tagline on the coffee cup. Overall grade: B+

What I’ll get next time: I’ll probably try some of their home-brewed coffee to see if the taste really does trump the novelty.

Best time of day to go: I should have listened to the Yelp reviews. The place is busy all day. Luckily, there was a steady stream of people leaving, so spots opened up. I, once again, ended up at the communal table because a suit-wearing DCer didn’t hear me/ignored me when I asked if he was leaving his table. OK, this post is starting to turn into a gripe about the DCness of it all…I do really like living in this city, but the type-A personalities can sometimes be too much. I know it’s not the coffeeshop’s fault.

The ambience: As mentioned above, the space is lovely and spacious, but also feels too perfectly balanced. The ambience can be summed up by the pictures provided and the two thoughts I had while there: 1) Nice, but feels like hipster nonsense and 2) I don’t know if I’m qualified to drink coffee here…

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Good for: The tables are small and there’s no wifi, so it’s better suited for drinking coffee with friends or with a book. There were a handful of other people working on their computers, like me, but most people were there to grab a jolt and meet a friend.

Will you need a jacket? I wore 3/4 sleeves and was doing OK.

Other things to know: Hipster nonsense, hipster nonsense, hipster nonsense! I really want to like this place, but there’s a too-perfect sheen to the whole coffeeshop. I felt like I should have taken a crash-course to hipster language and counterculture coffee (which also seems like nonsense, to be honest*) before visiting this place. BUT the coffee was great. Also, it’s located down an alley, which is part cool, part best-location-they-could-find-for-the-price-they-wanted, part HIPSTER NONSENSE.

What I did: I worked on a story I’m writing.

Stupid thing I read online: Nothing. Thanks, no wi-fi!

*I also think the phrase “counterculture coffee” has become something it isn’t, based on the small amount of research I did when writing this post. I had no idea that it was actually a company. I think the phrase has been appropriated by many to mean something else, but that’s all conjecture on my part. I probably have no idea what I’m talking about.

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5 thoughts on “La Colombe

  1. I’m more of grab coffee and go. I prefer to walk. But if I were meeting a friend a place like this would be nice over a Starbucks. Perhaps from your review grab coffee and go for a walk with the friend! Haha. Great review! Cheers, Koko :)

  2. I pretty much agree with your findings. I love the coffee there and when I lived in the area I liked to stop by for a cup to go as I walked around, but the one time I aimed to sit and drink in, I wasn’t a fan. My husband and I did snag a table, but it was very uncomfortable and small and even though we didn’t have computers or books it felt cramped. And amen re: hipster nonsense. So much. The one thing I did love was the free water, even sparkling(!), that didn’t taste like a swig of the Potomac, a positive trend I’ve seen popping up at many fancier coffee shops.

    • Hi Kacy,

      I’m glad I’m not the only one that felt the hipster nonsense! I really thought I was missing something–even though the coffee was great, everything else felt off! I can definitely see it as a great coffee-to-go place if you live in the area. Also, I didn’t see the free sparkling water–will have to keep my eyes open for that! Thanks for reading!

  3. Pingback: Soho Tea & Coffee | wordifications

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