Friday, March 30, 2012

D.C. Cafes

Okay y'all. I have many tricks up my sleeve for you. As you know by now, my blog goes in and out of fashion according to my stomach issues, which prohibits me from drinking coffee. It acts up... I don't blog. It gets better, and we're on!

So where to start after it's been so long. Let's revisit some familiar places: Chinatown Coffee Company and Pound. I live in Penn Quarter (holllaa!! City-section pride!) in Washington, D.C. and work in Chinatown. Recently, I have noticed a phenomena happening in the District. Coffee shops are no longer holding fast to the idea that all their customers want are baked goods and caffeinated drinks. During the day, these places pride themselves in the unique and specialized coffee brewing techniques (such as the latest fad: Chemex brewing) and in the evening they try to have more of a café feel, selling lite fare and craft brews – and not the coffee kind!

Chemex brewing.

It’s about time America!!!!!!!!!! Europe has been doing this for-ev-er. But here in the States it is a new idea, which seems to be working quite nicely. With the added bonus of Twitter and Facebook, you can follow your favorite cafes (which you heard of through the only and BEST coffee source in DC: Samantha’s Brewed Awakening) and “like” them or “follow” them accordingly. They usually post what is on special that night and what delicacies the chef is cooking up. Chinatown Coffee Company isn’t yet serving dinner selections, but what they are noted for in the district after hours is their selection of absinthe.


Chinatown Coffee Compnay.

I have tried absinthe only once, and once was enough for me. I was in Zurich, Switzerland at a café I had wanted to go to for a lifetime. Zurich doesn’t get enough credit. Today, everyone associates it with the financial center of Europe, but it was also an art mecca back in the early 1900’s. It actually is the birthplace of my favorite movement in art, a movement of the mind just as much as the paintbrush: Dada. I’ll bring this up from time-to-time such as my much earlier post on crazy eclectic coffee mugs. (Read the post for a good description of Dada art! If you’re curious.) So, I went to Cabaret Voltaire –  dream come true – and went up to the barista and asked, “what do people usually get?” To which he responds, “absinth”. To this day, I am not sure if he was pulling my leg, but it didn’t seem it. I was in Zurich after all. So I did just that. Gotta fit in, right? Meanwhile, it is barely 1:00 in the afternoon. I sat down to drink my absinthe, let it touch my lips, and cringe all over. For the next 30 minutes I tried to sip, but it didn’t work out. Eventually, the bar tender could tell that I wasn’t enjoying myself and came over with a nice sweet drink that tasted like apple juice. Needless to say I am not a fan of absinthe, but if you’re looking for a place to try in D.C., Chinatown Coffee Company is the way to go.

Me at Cabaret Voltaire with Da and Da.

Apple juice drink in front with glasses of absinthe.

Cabaret Voltaire.


Hugo Ball.

Another shop I follow via the interweb is Pound on Capitol Hill. It has been interesting to watch them transition from a coffee shop to a café. I have not yet tried their meals yet, but they always look quite tasty and can be served with a glass of wine much to one's delight.

Pound's fooooood.

I haven’t heard many people talk about this phenomena yet; I think it is only now starting to take off. I would love to hear your view. Have you tried sipping absinthe at Chinatown Coffee Company? Have you ordered a DC Brau Penn Quarter Porter at a place that is traditionally a coffee joint? Let me know! There are many other DC coffee shops also finding way into this transition that I have not mentioned here. Some I have tried and posted about, some I have tried but haven’t given my readers the pleasure of plummeting into my say-what on the subject, and some I have read about and hope to go to soon! Do your research and find one near you. Or, feel free to email me at

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