From its homegrown hardcore punk scene to its grassroots activist movements, Washington, D.C. has a strong indie spirit. In a city where “Do It Yourself” is a mantra, that DIY spirit comes through in D.C.’s small but mighty specialty coffee scene. With their focus on quality and sustainability, indie coffee shops have gained a faithful following.
Here are five indie coffee shops to check out in the nation’s capital.
621 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Named for the varietal of coffee beans that grow naturally in Rwanda, Bourbon Coffee specializes in coffee from this nation. Bourbon sources from the country’s five growing regions to provide a nice variety of fresh, sustainable coffee. Current flavors include a cinnamon and honey flavored coffee from the northwestern mountain region and a lemony chocolate flavored coffee from the southern region. Just as its other cafes in the city, Bourbon’s new Capitol Hill location is a cozy, comfortable spot to read a good book.
1200 17th Street, NW
Featuring a deep roster of roasters such as Onyx, Verve, Ceremony, Bespoken and Novo, The Coffee Bar makes each cup an experience. The massive chalkboard menu may seem overwhelming so just ask what’s brewing today. Coffees of the day (with tasting notes) are also posted on the bar for your perusal. The house specialty is the honey badger (a sweet, iced, espresso drink), but a nice nutty pour over will do you right as well. Hungry? Check out the freshly baked pastries and bagels from local shops and homemade granola. There’s not much seating so it’s best to grab and go. There are of plenty benches outside.
650 F Street NW
The Compass café in Chinatown is a light-filled space with a sleek, modern aesthetic. The shop stays busy, but the efficient barista flow and café design keep the space from feeling crowded. Founded by two ex-Marines, Compass features high-end blends as well as single origins from Bali, Papua New Guinea, the Congo and Colombia, just to name a few. The beans are roasted at the Compass roastery just up the hill in the Shaw neighborhood. This is perfect spot to beat D.C.’s hideous heat with a refreshing nitro cold brew and do some work or simply gaze out the window at the tourists and worker bees buzzing about Chinatown.
1726 20th Street, NW
Since opening the flagship café in Dupont in 2010, Filter has expanded to Foggy Bottom and Brookland. Try an aromatic V60 pour over featuring delicate and delicious coffees from the Annapolis, Maryland-based roaster, Ceremony. Single origin coffees with flavors of plum and Pixi Stix from Colombia; vanilla, caramel and creamy orange sorbet from Costa Rica; and clover honey, brown ale and toffee from Guatemala are a few samples from the ever-changing menu. One thing to remember: leave your laptop at home. Contemplate life over a cortado instead.
5035 Connecticut Ave, NW
This rustic chic spot in upper NW focuses on quality in everything from the Moroccan chicken salad sandwiches to fresh soups to specialty coffee. You’re not going to get a 20oz cup of joe here. The serving sizes are dainty but they pack a flavorful punch. Featuring coffees from roasters such as Coava, Rare Bird and Ceremony, the café never disappoints true coffee aficionados. You also can buy olive oils, fresh baked bread and growlers of local beer and kombucha. Bonus: Little Red Fox is next door to D.C.’s best indie bookstore, Politics & Prose.