Neighborhood cafes are raising the morning coffee ritual to an art form. WL spotlights three of the best brews in Washington to kick-start your day.
M.E. Swings, 1702 G Street NW
Named the Best Brew of 2012 by corporate coffee aficionado Krups, M.E. Swings has long been a District favorite. Swings started out as a coffee roaster in 1916 at the “Mesco building” on E Street NW. Now, with roasting operations located in Alexandria, the tradition of high-quality coffee continues at the 17th and G St. NW café, where the White House crowd is known to enjoy a quick drip fix or leisurely latte. Current owner Mark Wurmuth came on board seven years ago and has maintained the old-school vibe, keeping many fixtures from the ’30s and ’40s. Swings keeps things green and fair trade/organic (FTO), sourcing and roasting coffee beans from small farms and offering burlap bags for composting. Too busy for the morning rush? We suggest picking up a bag of the famed Mesco blend, the coffee roaster’s bestselling brew dating back to 1918.
Qualia Coffee, 3717 Georgia Avenue NW
Since opening in 2009, this Petworth mainstay has become a reliable spot for coffee lovers who appreciate an abundance of brews. After all, they offer 12 varieties — more than latte heavy menus at other cafes. Home to Fresh-Off-the-Roast, the company also prides itself on composting 90 percent of its grounds and offering beans roasted daily for fresh flavor. Want more info on your brew? Just ask owner Joel Finklestein or one of the six baristas for the story behind your cup, as all coffees are hand selected and taste tested. Don’t let the rich flavor and “coffee-geek” vibe fool you. Qualia is a casual setting for relaxing over a mug, but only if you can find a seat!
Peregrine Espresso, 660 Pennsylvania Avenue SE and 1718 16th Street NW
With two locations on the District coffee scene, Peregrine Espresso is a dream realized for owner Ryan Jenson, who, while working as a barista in high school, dreamed of opening his own shop. Peregrine sources all beans from Counter Culture and offers a clean, bright space (one outpost is located steps away from Eastern Market) where caffeine junkies can enjoy fair trade, organic beans. The 4-year-old café also notably uses wind power, local-grass-fed milk and in-house composting. The 22-person staff includes South East Regional Barista award winner, Lindsey Kiser.
See more top spots in the June Issue of Washington Life Magazine, on sale now.