Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Wydown Coffee Bar

I've always wished for a day off when everyone else has to work. It would be different from a weekend, and not even Labor Day would be able to match the feeling. Ten free hours that seem like ten extra hours you wouldn't have had, stealing seconds and turning them into minutes. I've longed for these strung-out seconds so Friday, I took the day off, and with ten free hours to waste I made my way over to U Street for coffee at The Wydown.

I woke up early, went for a run, made the bed and a nice big breakfast, and headed to the metro just as everyone else was headed to the office. I got off on U Street and walked ten steps over to The Wydown. I've been wanting to try the coffee bar for quite some time, but with only two days in a weekend, mundane obligatory chores have kept me away until today.

Walking in, I instantly recognized that this wasn't a simple steep-and-pour cafe. The sophisticated menu and array of brewing gadgets made it clear that The Wydown takes brewing seriously. The labyrinth of equipment was showcased by the the simple interior, which created a stage out of the lone coffee bar in the center-back of the shop. The bar was decorated with a giant espresso machine and three dip-coffee stations that are used to brew your choice of coffee. Instead of a menu, The Wydown's walls are used as a chalkboard where all of the choices are spelled out. The beans used for coffee brewed to order rotate in and out and change depending on the season. As I sat in the shop I overheard many customers ordering the summer solstice blend by Intelligentsia. I didn't try it, but I definitely plan on making a trip back because it sounds so refreshing!

Sticking to my guns, I skipped the drip and ordered a cappuccino. I made it clear when I started this blog that I am no coffee expert. I simply enjoy the atmosphere cafes provide and coffee that doesn't taste like car oil. I have learned a lot from folks about the different subtleties in coffee flavor and how to enjoy drip coffee as if it's a glass of wine, but a cappuccino in a porcelain cup still excites me the most.

The Wydown's baristas were kind, welcoming, and happy to explain any item on the menu to whomever was at the counter ordering. Some specialty coffee shops brew some real snobs, Baked and Wired being the snobbiest of them all and Qualia Coffee following not far behind. At The Wydown you don't have to choose between friendly folks and good coffee, here you get them both.

I ordered my cappuccino and sat down. When it was made, the barista delivered the drink right to my seat! They do this for everyone sitting in the cafe and it is such a nice touch that goes to show how friendly and unpretentious these coffee enthusiasts are. The cappuccino was a perfectly traditional cappuccino. The espresso was smooth and robust without any bitter bites. The milk-to-espresso ratio was dead on too. Most places put too much milk in cappuccino, thinking it is just a latte with foam, but The Wydown did a perfect pour. If I had to point out an area for improvement I'd say the foam wasn't as creamy as it would be on my perfect cappuccino, but it was so nearly there that it didn't spoil the drink one bit.

Along with coffee, The Wydown prides itself in its from-scratch baked goods, and since this is a coffee blog, I figured I would test out the espresso chocolate-chip muffin. The muffin was loaded with delicious chocolate chips on top and only a few scattered throughout the muffin. This normally would have annoyed me, because I can never get enough chocolate, but it actually enhanced the taste of the muffin. Since you weren't overwhelmed with chocolate in every bite, you could really taste the espresso mixed into the batter. And I don't know what special chocolate chips they use, but I want to know where I can get some because they were the best chocolate chips I've ever tasted!

I sat in the cafe for four hours sipping, munching, and reading. I ended up ordering an iced coffee as a second drink, and unable to finish it before leaving I packed it up in my backpack to go, looking pretty strange walking down the street.

I was thoroughly impressed by my experience at The Wydown and will no doubt become a frequent visitor. It's a perfect place for coffee experts and casual drinkers alike - and a perfect place to spend stringed-seconds and hour long minutes.

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