DC Coffee Talk with Samantha’s Brewed Awakening


Think Starbucks is your only option for coffee in DC?  Think again.

Samantha of Samantha’s Brewed Awakening – and Twitter’s DCoffeeSnob – gives us an inside look at where to go, what to order, and what to expect at DC’s coffee shops.

Q:  People often complain that it’s hard to find good coffee in DC.  What do you think of this common perception? 

A:  I agree! I started my blog because, as an undergraduate in DC, I loved studying in coffee shops. Every time I tried to google a new café where I could do homework, the same places would pop-up.  While those places are DC staples, there are many more cafes out there waiting to be discovered. I haven’t tried them all (and many I have tried and haven’t found the time to blog about), but I am forever working to compile a list of great places for District dwellers to go and relax while sipping a cup of coffee. I do my best to keep a running list on my blog under the “Cafes Around the District” section.

Q: What are your go-to places for coffee in DC?

A:  My go-to definitely depends on the mood I’m in and what I’m looking for. When I began this blog, I made it quite clear that I’m not necessarily searching for the best cup of coffee, but the most enjoyable. Of course, the flavor of the coffee is key, but conversation with the folks who brew it, the aesthetics of the shop, and even the company I’m with all contribute to the review I give.

These are my top go-to places in DC:

  • M.E. Swing’s
    • Reason to go: Nicest people in town and the history of the place is fascinating!
    • What to order: Espresso, cappuccino, or double-shot single latte.
  • Ebenezer
    • Reason to go: Quite place to read or do work.
    • What to order: Best mint mocha in town.
  • Dolcezza
    • Reason to go: People watch.
    • What to order: Croissant – yum. They change their espresso bean month-to-month, so there is always something new to try.
  • La Colombe
    • Reason to go: Great vibe, great people. Feels very NYC.
    • What to order: Steam-punk Ethiopian. Add nothing.
  • Chinatown Coffee Company
    • Reason to go: Easy to go unnoticed… in a good way. Sit by yourself and enjoy your coffee.
    • What to order: Cappuccino.
  • Filter
    • Reason to go: You can run or ride your bike to there.
    • What to order: Cortado.
  • The Wydown
    • Reason to go: Cool ambiance and great U Street location. Good for a group.
    • What to get: Don’t have a favorite drink yet. Tell me what you like!
  • Cups & Co.
    • Reason to go: It’s where the Senators go.
    • What to get: Coffee but it’s pretty terrible.
  • Peregrine Espresso
    • Reason to go: Spending the day walking around Eastern Market.
    • What to order: Terrific iced latte.

Q: What have been some of your favorite new coffee discoveries in DC over the past year?

I rediscover M. E. Swing’s every time I’m there. It is the most authentic thing this city has to offer. Smack-dab across the street from the Executive Office Building (EOB) and White House, a passerby wouldn’t think twice about making a pit stop, nor would they know that it houses the District’s finest coffee. This place is real. It’s buzzing with government workers in the morning and, once noon rolls around, the line is out the door…I don’t know what it is about the place – maybe the old-world charm and the fantastic staff – but being in M. E. Swing’s takes you back to a simpler America. It’s how I picture the 1950s. Everyone is friendly. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone stops in for a cup of coffee. What I also love about this place is that many people stay and drink their coffee there. The bar is always packed. It feels like Europe where to-go cups are not a thing. I love it and truly think that, to fully experience DC, you need to get a cappuccino at this shop and sit there while eating a donut.

Q: You’ve traveled to Italy, Turkey, Switzerland, and more in search of good coffee. What cafés outside of DC are you eager to try next? 

A: Ahh, the everlasting search for the best cup of coffee or, rather, the most enjoyable! I just booked a ticket for two weeks in Mozambique and South Africa this summer, so my current interest lies there! If anyone has any suggestions, send them my way!


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