Qualia Coffee (and some other things)

Oh, man! I kept meaning to post this review and then kept forgetting. Life! I’m in the middle of a fast-paced six week summer course and the grading is for real. So today I took a mini-break to post this and order some audiobooks so I can cancel my Audible subscription (too expensive and also Lena Dunham’s book was way more boring than I expected).

A few other life updates:

  • Saw Magic Mike XXL and then overheard a conversation where someone was trying to explain the first movie from an intellectual POV. Like, really? Such a DC move. Let’s just all be honest and admit that Magic Mike is not a movie you watch when you want to expand your mind or grow as a person. It’s a movie you watch when you want to turn off your brain and hear other women in the theater ooh and ahh to Channing Tatum.
  • Rahul and I crossed some big wedding stuff of our to-do list: finished our registry, ordered our invitations, ordered his suit, etc. Plus we’re now less than 100 days away!! AHHH!
  • Summer is somehow almost over…what?? School starts back in one month! How did this happen? Time to do some last minute summer things…I’m dying to go to the beach, just need to find the time to make it happen!
  • My runs have gotten a lot better! I’ve found the magic secret to productive runs in the stupid, stupid summer heat: running indoors! OK, I know that’s not a new idea, but it is for me. I’ve always hated running on treadmills because it’s so BORING. But I’ve discovered that “Parks & Recreation” comes on TV weekday mornings at 10, which works great with my afternoon teaching schedule. Watching that show while running has finally gotten me through up to 4 miles without stopping, and on a pretty good pace too, considering I had a fractured leg earlier this year. Pretty ironic that “Parks & Rec” is the show that saved my runs, considering what I wrote a few weeks ago. Other things work too: Crazy, Stupid, Love got me through 6 miles on Sunday. About halfway through half marathon training and I’m finally pretty good about it, finally!
  • I made a few additions to the apartment, namely a new chair and lamp to our desk that has reinvigorated my interest to sit there.


I’m in love with the chair. Plus, the view’s not bad either:


Next home improvement: a new piece of wall art for above the bed. Any suggestions for places to look? I’ve browsed Society 6 and some of the free downloads on Pinterest, but haven’t found anything I’m absolutely in love with.

Okay, now on to the coffee.

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


I’ve visited Qualia Coffee once before, and always meant to go back. You know what happens when you “always” mean to do something…it never happens. In any case, I live a little closer to the place now, so might try to stop by more regularly. WE’LL SEE. It was an easy drive, so that was a plus, and I scored a parking spot right across the street. Double plus. The place is within walking distance of the Georgia Ave metro, which also helps.

I loved Qualia when I first went (in 2011! ahh) because the barista was super friendly, talked to me about the different coffee options, and didn’t make me feel rushed as I ordered. It probably helped that I showed up so early that there was hardly any one else inside. I also remember liking the space and feeling productive because of the warm atmosphere. I wasn’t let down on my second visit. Even though they had more people inside, I didn’t feel rushed as I ordered, and the staff seemed friendly. They have GREAT coffee (as evidenced in my last visit), which I believe they roast in house.

What I ordered: I ordered just a latte, even though I was tempted by their snacks. I went to Qualia on a very hot Tuesday morning and was already a bit frazzled from a terrible, terrible run earlier in the day, followed by my apartment’s water being shut off for maintenance (which I knew was happening, but still annoying). In any case, all I could focus on ordering was the coffee, and I was almost too hot to even drink that.


Latte Grade: The art on the latte was so-so, and I even overheard the barista talking about how his latte art is always a bit shoddy. I think that’s okay, dude, because latte art can probably only get you so far in life. The latte itself was hot and delicious, which was no surprise. As I said above, I’ve visited Qualia once before and their coffee was AMAZING then and is still amazing, as evidenced by the great latte flavor. You definitely get a strong coffee taste, which I love.  Again, another place with a good mix of coffee and milk. Overall grade: A. 

What I’ll get next time: They had a wide selection of cookies, which I wish I paid more attention to when I was there. I mean, peanut butter, dark chocolate, white chocolate cranberry…yes, please! I’ll also probably get the iced coffee, as I overheard a bunch of people ordering it. It’s either really good, or it was just freakin hot, or a combo of both.


Best time of day to go: They have a lot of seating options–two patios, indoor seating, and an upstairs too, I believe (although I could be making that up). Point is, there seems to be plenty of seating, and the space inside was pretty sparse while I was there, but the back patio seemed to be hopping. Again, I would say a safe rule of thumb is in the morning or early afternoon, before people descend upon the place post-work or school.

The ambience: One thing I really liked about my second visit to Qualia was how open the space was. When I visited the first time, way back in 2011, it was a bit colder, although, according to my blog post, they had the door open then too, so I guess it’s a thing they do? IN ANY CASE, I really loved how the open door made the space seem super open and welcoming and airy. While the inside space is rather small, the open door space helped quite a lot. Right when you walk up, you spot people chatting on the front patio, a chalk board sign welcoming you, the whole nine yards. It seems to be a neighborhood joint, as I overheard several people who knew the baristas (I am such an OBVIOUS people watcher, it must be the writer in me), and I would definitely make this my neighborhood spot if I lived in Petworth. It’s quick, accommodating, and welcoming. Plus, as added bonuses, they had art for sale on the walls and free condoms in the bathroom. So, hey, anything goes.

Good for: Again, another place that seems accommodating for all things. I sat at the communal bar (again) and was sitting right next to another girl working on her computer. I visited Qualia the day after TCB–at TCB, I asked someone to watch my computer and at Qualia, I got asked to watch a computer. I don’t really know the purpose of this story other than to say not all people are jerks? I don’t know. In any case, they have a variety of seating, including some couches.

Will you need a jacket? Um, no. I actually realized on the way over there that I had forgotten a sweater, which I realized I did not need at all. They had the front and back doors open, so it was pretty steamy inside. Let’s just say I was sweatin’ a bit. BUT the open doors made for a nice, open space, as discussed above.

Other things to know: Fresh off the Roast brews and sales their own coffee here, in drinkable form or in coffee bean to-go form. Several people came in while I was there just to buy coffee beans. Also, as discussed above, they seem to have an open door policy (as in the doors were open), so it might get pretty humid and hot during these summer days.

What I did: I worked on a story I’m trying to write–key word is TRYING. It’s going pretty well, though. (knocks on wood)
Update on this: it stopped going well. UGH! My current plan is to reread my MFA thesis and finish writing it. I know I can do it! 

Stupid thing I read online: I don’t remember, but I loved this post where Buzzfeed edited Katy Perry’s nonsensical tweet, even though I found the whole Katy Perry-Taylor Swift-Nicki Minaj debacle to be SO DUMB. At the end of the day, you are all successful artists, so GET OVER yourselves.
I will say that Taylor Swift seems like someone I would NOT want to be friends with. You’d have to watch everything you say and do around her in an attempt to not offend or upset her! No thank you.

My reaction to how often the radio show people talked about this “fight” on the air:


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