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