Aesthetics of Everywhere

The urban scene, its people and processes. Based in southern California.

Autumn Coffeeneuring in DC

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What is “coffeeneuring”? It’s an act of combining two great loves of many Washington, DC residents: coffee and bicycling. Mary has a write-up of the official rules here: 2nd Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge. Essentially you write up your weekend coffee bike ride experiences to share with the community. The true reward is exploration and caffeine! Last year, twelve people completed the challenge of 7 different coffee shops in 6 weekends, and I’m willing to bet that even more people participate this year. It’s a creative, seasonal idea. Excuse the poor photos – most were taken on my phone.

Here’s my entry in this year’s coffeeneuring challenge:

1. SOVA Espresso & Wine at 1359 H St NE on October 8th

Intelligentsia coffee at SOVA on H Street NETook a Capital Bikeshare bike from Eastern Market to SOVA on H Street. The ride was brisk and fast, waking me up from my commuting haze even before ordering a coffee. It sure gets dark early on these fall nights. SOVA is a combination coffee bar and wine bar that I had only ever been to for live music before. The downstairs cafe area is cute, with good service, good tunes, and (huge mugs of) good coffee. Stopped by in the evening and got a cup of their drip coffee (Intelligentsia), but would like to try their espresso drinks soon. Bike ride home was uneventful – took Florida Ave as I often do, but being on a Bikeshare made it harder to keep up with traffic.

Distance: 3.3 miles
Drink: Medium-roast drip coffee, black

2. Kafe Bohem at 600 Florida Ave NW on October 13th

Cappuccino at Kafe BohemRode to Kafe Bohem, the cafe connected to Bistro Bohem, early on a Saturday morning to get the day started before heading over to the unveiling of the St. Elizabeth’s East Gateway Pavilion. The staff was pulling shots of espresso for customers and baking strudels in the back. Kafe Bohem is only a short ride from our place, yet this was our first visit to this new coffeehouse in Shaw. I ordered a cappuccino, Adam had an Americano, and we split a tasty onion, cheese, and tomato strudel. The interior is cozy, with European touches here and there, and drink presentation is refined. One of these Bohemian spa wafers are included with your drink, and are available to purchase if one isn’t enough. Staff was very welcoming – joked around with us and even brought glasses of water over to our table without being asked for any. Other customers seemed as comfortable there as the staff: some reading, others settling in to work on their laptops. Kafe Bohem is a much-needed neighborhood spot, helping to revitalize this little corner of Shaw.

Distance: 11.0 miles
Drink: Cappuccino

3. Baked and Wired at 1052 Thomas Jefferson Street NW on October 20th

Dirty chai at Baked and WiredLocated in Georgetown near K Street, Baked and Wired is a great place to meet up with friends before any ride that starts off on the Capital Crescent Trail or the C & O Canal Towpath. John chose this as the launch point for his Hoppy 100 ride, and then three of us decided to meet here before getting onto the C & O. I tried the “dirty chai” which adds espresso to a chai latte (effectively both coffee and tea?) and had a slice of spinach and feta quiche to fuel the ride. Friends had coffee, a slice of ham quiche, and a scone. They only have two outdoor tables, but we snagged one of them by getting there early.

Distance: 63.2 miles
Drink: Dirty chai

4. Big Bear Cafe at 1700 1st Street NW on October 21st

Big Bear is also in my neighborhood, but I don’t spend a lot of time here. It’s usually just a quick stop when I’m at the Bloomingdale Farmers Market. I like the interior because it’s cozy and welcoming, and the exterior is cute with the bear painted on the side and the vines crawling over the building. We stopped by on our ride home from Harper’s Ferry – one metric century from there to here – and grabbed some hot chocolate and coffee. Nice to take a moment to relax after spending a whole day riding.

Distance: 65.1 miles
Drink: Hot chocolate

5. Pound the Hill at 621 Pennsylvania Ave SE on October 28th

Coffeeneuring at Pound the HillEveryone is preparing for Hurricane Sandy! After going to the Farmers Market, where all vendors had signs saying something to the effect of “Stock up for Sandy!” I rode over to Pound the Hill – appropriately named for its location on Capitol Hill. It was quite a windy ride. More seats than I expected at the cafe, with ample room to find a place to plug in the laptop and work for a little while. The drinks are good and the food looks good, but I wish the music was a bit less ‘smooth jazz’. Missed John who stopped by, but he did recognize my bike outside. Coffeeneuring takes the city by storm!

Distance: 5.3 miles
Drink: Soy chai latte

6. Qualia Coffee at 3917 Georgia Avenue NW on November 3rd

Coffeeneuring at QualiaA very cozy coffeehouse with friendly, talkative staff. This is the kind of place you go to meet up with friends or read a book or magazine. They discourage laptop-sitting, which is refreshing since there are already so many other cafes in DC overrun with people soaking up wifi. Qualia is the sort of place where you’re probably a local, and if not, you happily share that it’s your first time stopping in. They seem to know their coffee and also offer pastries and bagels. We grabbed mugs of drip coffee, a salted caramel bar, and a honey sticky bun, and read a few magazines. It was a welcome reprieve from the chill outside.

Distance: 16.3 miles
Drink: Drip coffee, black

7. Lot 38 Espresso Bar at 1001 2nd Street SE on November 4th

Coffeeneuring at Lot 38Lot 38 has a pretty simple design – downstairs is a narrow espresso bar where they take drink and food orders, upstairs is a single room with tables and chairs. The tables near the windows are the best, because you can overlook the street below. The clientele included families with young children, couples reading the paper together, and a few people working on laptops. I noticed that everyone in the vicinity seemed to have the dog. Perhaps it’s just the demographic that’s moving into the Navy Yard area. Navy Yard (maybe it has a hip new neighborhood name I’m not aware of) seems to be developing rapidly. It already looks completely different from a couple years ago, and from Lot 38 you can look out onto the construction across the street. The cafe serves up illy coffee, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, smoothies, and pastries. This would be a good place to work because it’s pretty quiet. Lot 38 definitely looks like it serves a need where there is growing demand – and it’s a better option than the Starbucks down the street.

Distance: 25.1 miles
Drink: Chai latte

That’s it for this year’s run at the Coffeeneuring Challenge. It was a tasty way to explore more of DC’s coffee options and discover some neat new places. Out of these 7 coffeehouses, only 2 were ones I had been to before.

Written by Crystal Bae

November 4th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

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