Cheap Eats 2013: A Cup Above

We love the earthy brews—and chilled-out vibe—at Ethiopian coffeehouses.

At Shagga Coffee & Restaurant, server Betelehem Halfon Desta readies a cup of coffee. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

There’s no shortage of good places in the area to get a great cup of coffee. There’s also no shortage of self-appointed experts to tell you why one place is better than the rest and to regale you with their fancy terminology—fruity, acidic, medium-bodied—for separating the styles.

We won’t join that conversation—there are too many varieties and missions to single out a best. But we want to take the opportunity to praise the area’s many Ethiopian coffeehouses. And if we may geek out for just a moment: We love the earthy richness and almost winey complexity of the Harrar roasts.

Sidamo Coffee and Tea (417 H St., NE; 202-548-0081) makes a brew in direct contrast to Starbucks—dark but never burnt-tasting, with a finish that keeps on going. Shagga Coffee & Restaurant (6040 Baltimore Ave., Hyattsville; 240-296-3030) serves a latte so mellow and rich it could pass for a dessert. Also worthy: Harrar Coffee and Roastery (2904 Georgia Ave., NW; 202-299-0101), Cup’a Cup’a (600 19th St., NW; 202-216-9861), Kefa Cafe (963 Bonifant St., Silver Spring; 301-589-9337), and Ethio Cafe (3045-A Columbia Pike, Arlington; 703-302-3772).

This article appears in the August 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.