Washington, D.C. is a coffee destination on the rise. The food scene in the U.S. Capital is booming in recent years, and coffeehouse culture has kept pace. There are a ton of amazing coffees to try in The District. I’m a Northern Virginia native, and these are some of my favorite coffee bars to visit across 11 essential D.C. neighborhoods: Adams Morgan, Bloomingdale, Capitol Hill, Chinatown, Dupont Circle, Georgetown, Logan Circle, Navy Yard, Penn Quarter, Shaw, and U Street.
Logan Circle: Peregrine Espresso
For coffee snobs who are specific about the beans they like, Peregrine offers all the options they need. Nobody’s limited to a choice of “light” or “dark”. At Peregrine, it’s possible to get that Central American variety you want. Knowledgeable baristas can also recommend a bean or roast. Drinks are on the smaller side, and relatively expensive, but locals boast Peregrine serves some of the best coffee they’ve ever had, so they keep coming. Baristas also properly pull espresso shots here, so well in fact that you won’t need sugar. Owners Ryan and Jill Jensen opened Labor Day weekend in 2008. They now have three District locations and a sister roasting company, all setting the standard for D.C. espresso.
MUST ORDER: Cappuccino
Navy Yard: Bluestone Lane
Bluestone Lane is as traditional and straight-forward as coffee bars get, but they serve damn good coffee. Melbourne native Nicholas James Stone founded the brand in 2013 in New York City, naming his company for his hometown’s famous blue cobblestone streets. Bluestone is a great first stop in your morning commute for that perfect a.m. jolt and delivers an early evening buzz necessary to make it to spin class. This is one of my favorite grab-and-go coffee spots by a mile. Their D.C. locations often have little seating, but long lines at peak hours don’t seem to dissuade anyone from stopping in for their java fix. It makes sense that the “Long Black” is among Bluestone’s signature drinks, since it’s a typical coffee order in Australia and New Zealand. Bluestone’s signature “Long Black” is similar to an Americano, made with a double espresso over hot water with the crema intact. The story goes that non-Italian tourists would order a large cup of black coffee in Italy, and so Italian baristas improvised with their usual espresso by serving it in a “long” cup with hot water.
MUST ORDER: The Signature “Long Black”
Penn Quarter: A Baked Joint
A Baked Joint is where coffee lovers brunch. The Velazquez family – D.C. locals – opened the doors in 2015 as the younger, cooler sister of longer standing Baked & Wired, a popular bakery and coffee spot. Why does this matter? Because A Baked Joint not only offer an extensive coffee menu, but they have the most delicious coffee pairings for every kind of coffee craving mood you’re feeling! Signature pairings range from the more traditional toast and jam to more adventurous toast and Sriracha drizzle. Whether customers order espresso brownies or French toast, espresso comes in colorful mugs with your name written on them in neon, which looks phenomenal. Lines are out the door for everything sweet and savory at A Baked Joint on weekends, but by all means persist.
MUST ORDER: Anything with one of their house-made milks paired with toast and a spread!
Shaw: The Coffee Bar
The Coffee Bar owner Cait Lowry has been “caffeinating the Capital” since 2012. Their quiet Shaw neighborhood location is beautiful, from cushions to tables, indoor and outdoor seating. This is one of my favorite places to take my laptop and lounge with coffee most of the day. They have strong Wi-Fi, chargers, free water, and great music. In D.C., so many coffee spots are meant for to-go coffee, but at The Coffee Bar, you won’t feel rushed or judged for staying a while. They also serve up a super colorful coffee menu. Try the Americola: Mexican Coca-Cola poured over two shots of espresso, which is crazy and amazing at once.
MUST ORDER: Americola
UStreet: The Wydown Coffee Bar
Owner Chad McCracken and his brother Alex created a “DIY” feel in their craft coffeehouse, which keeps D.C. coffee lovers coming back. Even The Wydown’s walls are decorated with artwork made from splattered coffee on recycled paper. They take coffee seriously with a brew bar menu featuring a distinctive, rotating selection of brewed-to-order beans from roasters like Sump Coffee and Passenger Coffee. The Wydown is a fast-paced operation, noisy with morning talk and whirring coffee grinders. With limited seating, folks grab their morning or midday mug and keep moving. Scones here are ultra popular from their in-house scratch bakery, including trendy flavors like blueberry lavender and cardamom, which pair great with The Wydown’s favorite coffees, lattes and cappuccinos, which are all amazingly flavorful.
MUST ORDER: Whole-milk latte and house-baked scone.