1500 Union Ave., Baltimore; 410-235-1881
Any trip to Baltimore should include a stop at this charming cafe not far from owner Spike Gjerde’s destination restaurant, Woodberry Kitchen. Suspender-sporting baristas create perfect espresso drinks and pour-over brews with coffee from Washington’s favorite supplier: North Carolina-based Counter Culture. They taste great with the house-made cornbread and buttery scones.
BIG BEAR CAFE
1700 First St., NW; 202-643-9222
This Bloomingdale hangout with ivy-lined windows, lots of distressed wood, and a pair of antlers on the wall serves 12- and 16-ounce French-press coffee from Counter Culture. In the evening, it’s one of the best spots in the neighborhood to linger over a glass of wine, a bottle of craft beer, or something stronger from the small but carefully selected collection of spirits.
818 N. Quincy St., Arlington; 703-650-9676
Excellent Michigan-based Mad-Cap Coffee aims to open a Washington location this year. In the meantime, you can try its carefully sourced beans in drip and espresso drinks at the Ballston branch of Buzz. Pair your drink with something sweet—pastry chef Tiffany Mac-Isaac has stuffed the place with some of the best brownies, cupcakes, scones, and cinnamon rolls around.
FILTER COFFEEHOUSE & ESPRESSO BAR
1726 20th St., NW, 202-234-5837; 1916 I St., NW, 202-234-5837
Aussie expats know that these downtown DC spots are top destinations for a drink from Down Under known as a “flat white”—simply put, a shorter version of a latte. Espresso shots are capped with “microfoam”—frothed milk scooped from the bottom of the pitcher.
3211 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-465-0145
Counter Culture beans show up again at this neighborhood hub with a farmhouse feel. Locals while away weekend mornings over well-made espresso drinks and breakfast sandwiches featuring eggs from Polyface farm in the Shenandoah Valley. The menu is overseen by Liam LaCivita, chef at nearby Liberty Tavern and Lyon Hall.
660 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, 202-629-4381;1718 14th St., NW, 202-525-5127; Union Market, 1309 Fifth St., NE, no phone
These three easygoing cafes pull the city’s most consistently excellent espresso shots using Counter Culture beans—which they also deliver by bike to nearby doors. Just don’t plan to stick around long—there are few places to lounge, and only the Capitol Hill location has wi-fi.
THE BLIND DOG CAFE
944 Florida Ave., NW; 202-290-2865
The brainchild of three longtime friends, this pop-up coffee shop is the daytime tenant of the LeDroit Park bar Darnell’s. Try a cold-brewed iced coffee made with blends from Kansas’s great PT’s Coffee Roasting Co., and while you’re there, pick up a few gooey chocolate-chip cookies—all baked goods are made daily for the cafe by the sister of one of the founders.