Capitol Hill Coffee.

I have a pretty great summer schedule down. Housework, exercise, home puttering, emails and photography things in the mornings, then off to a coffee shop for dissertation research or semester prep in the afternoon. This gives me a chance to experience a wide array of coffee establishments across the Hill. For many moons, I feel like the Hill was a surprising coffee shop desert. There was Starbucks and one or two others, but the pickings were slim and unoriginal. But lately we have had a boom of cool spots and these are some of my current favorite haunts around Capitol Hill. And in case you are remembering my extreme distaste in coffee, you should know that I am in the process of reforming. During an especially lazy slump, I threw some coconut milk in James’ leftover coffee and gulped it down… only to find that coffee is BASICALLY MAGIC JUICE THAT MAKES YOU PRODUCTIVE. I had been eschewing coffee shops since Whole30 meant none of those tasty frothy drinks, but my revelation sent me back out in the streets with a new-found love of iced coffee. Adulthood here I come.

Bayou Summer2015-96 Bayou Bakery: House and gardens turned Cajun bakery and coffee shop, right on Pennsylvania Avenue.

  • Pros: Lots of seating, amazing atmosphere with tons of light, outdoor seating, and a full solarium, full menu for study treats and drinks.
  • Cons: Technically, they don’t want people spreading out with laptops all day, though I think they only enforce that during peak busy hours like dinnertime or weekends.
  • Best For: Laptop work (lots of tables), sunny days, coffee dates with friends.

Summer2015-99 Summer2015-98 Mia’s Coffehouse: Rowhouse turned tiny coffee joint right near my beloved Lincoln Park.

  • Pros: Tassttttyyyy drinks that fall outside the normal offerings, like horchata, it has an adorable interior, and is very calm.
  • Cons: Smaller menu, very limited seating.
  • Best For: Reading marathons, as depressing books are made better by sweet Mexican beverages.


Ebenezers Coffeehouse: Trendy and cozy café right near Union Station.

  • Pros: Love the atmosphere, tasty drinks that mimic Starbucks but are way cheaper, comfy chairs,
  • Cons: Limited space, especially table space.
  • Best For: Long days of reading.

Mia's Summer2015-89

And the tried and true chains that we  all love in spite of our desire for trendy new things…

Starbucks: You know the drill. The one on Capitol Hill has a great (and slightly hidden) upstairs room great for studying.

  • Pros: Those terrible for you Starbucks beverages that I crave, the upstairs fireplace and lonnngggg table, and the unspoken understanding that the upstairs is a quiet place.
  • Cons: Sometimes it is really crowded and tourists don’t always understand the silence rule. Also, the chairs aren’t comfortable.
  • Best For: Winter study days, laptop work.

Prêt A Manger: Love the food, love the spaciousness, and love when they clean out the breakfast stuff at 11ish and give it to hungry grad students studying nearby for free.

  • Pros: Lots of good food for hunger breaks, plentiful and comfortable seating upstairs.
  • Cons: A little sterile, lack of that cozy hip coffee house vibe.
  • Best For: Marathon days of paper writing/ exam studying.

What are your favorite coffee shops, in DC or elsewhere? (I’m looking at you Portland readers- I’m coming your way this fall and your reputation precedes you.) I think I will shift locations this fall to hit up some of the great new places that have opened on H Street… don’t worry, I will flood you with those later this fall. Because you were worried. Not.

Photos in this post are all from Bayou Bakery and Mia’s.

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16 Responses to Capitol Hill Coffee.

  1. Jess says:

    Come to Boise and I’ll take you to my favorite coffee shops 🙂

  2. Michal says:

    These are great! I haven’t tried any of them except that Starbucks on Pennsylvania.

    My favorites: M.E. Swing’s by the White House (very small, get in before or after the suits go to lunch!) Peregrine Espresso, and for chains Peet’s has the best coffee and atmosphere hands down.

    In Portland, the Stumptown in the Ace hotel is obvious but necessary. Dripster is very good but a little snobby. I know more places across the river in Vancouver but I’m sure you’ll have no shortage of suggestions. 🙂

    • Hannah says:

      I need to try those further away ones! I do love biking around. As for Peregrine, I have just never been able to get on board. I know that everyone in DC loves it, but its atmosphere just never seemed as appealing to me.

      Definitely making notes of those Portland spots- thanks!

  3. I’d love to visit all of those places. Iced coffee is the best thing. Ever since I quit milk and sugar, those tasty, tasty Starbucks offerings were off the menu. But an iced coffee can be ordered sugar free pretty much anywhere, and so they became the new love of my life. 🙂

  4. Kate Zickel says:

    I like the Peet’s Coffee on G st. They are always some kind of promotion or coupon.

  5. E.H says:

    This just makes me smile. Coffee shops make me so happy… I don’t know why, but they do. I found my very own in my small suburb outside of Charlotte. It’s outdoor seating is more charming that the indoors.

  6. E.H says:

    I just realized, I’m all caught up! Yay!

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