News & Politics

Best of 2004: Starbucks Alternatives

Just don't ask them for a venti-sized coffee.

Most of the coffee at Baked & Wired (1052 Thomas Jefferson St., NW; 202-333-2500) is grown at high altitudes on estates in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and other Latin locales, which means denser and richer coffee. Fabulous baked goods clinch the deal. There's no place to sit–a small price to pay for java heaven.

Karma (1919 I St., NW; 202-331-5800), an oasis of cool in a buttoned-down neighborhood, is an outpost for robust Italian Illy coffee. Look for light fare and cocktails at this design-driven address with modern paintings and avant-garde furniture.

Organic Peruvian and Mexican beans and Jamaican Blue Mountain beans are roasted on the premises at Mayorga Coffee Roasters (8040 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring; 301-562-9090), a coffee/martini bar that's a hangout for locals and AFI Silver Theatre cineastes alike. Sweets, light fare, and Sunday brunch are other draws.

The bohemians at the old-style coffeehouse Misha's (102 S. Patrick St., Alexandria; 703-548-4089) are likely to be BlackBerry-toting lawyers, but that doesn't detract from the charm. The coffee is Arabica, and the on-site roasting is overseen by Misha Von Elmendorf. Any of the 24 coffees can be made to order.

The international crowd lined up at the espresso bar at the authentic French bakery Pâtisserie Poupon (1645 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-342-3248) downs its espresso Euro style–standing up and in one gulp. Eclairs, tarts, pain au chocolat, macaroons, and madeleines make you feel as though you've been beamed to the Boulevard Saint-Germain.

Washingtonian staff contributing to this section were Chuck Conconi, Sherri Dalphonse, Susan Davidson, Mary Clare Fleury, Cynthia Hacinli, Thomas Head, Stephanie Jones, Ann Limpert, Drew Lindsay, Chad Lorenz, Leslie Milk, William O'Sullivan, Cindy Rich, and Jeremy Stahl.  Also contributing were writers Cathy Alter, Ann Cochran, and Jenny Sullivan.