Not Your Average Joe: Coffee at Home

Photograph by Chris Leaman.
Photograph by Chris Leaman.

Here’s how to get restaurant-quality coffee at home: Drink the same kind the best restaurants use. We surveyed the top 30 of our 100 Very Best Restaurants to see where they got their coffee, then found out which roasters were local. Here are beans roasted in the Washington area and the places that serve them. There’s one ringer: Qualia doesn’t sell to restaurants, but we include it here for the sheer excellence of its coffee.

Caffe Pronto

90 Russell St., Annapolis; 410-626-0011.

Vincent Iatesta was in health-care marketing and furniture design before opening his shop. He and Restaurant Eve's Cathal Armstrong developed the restaurant’s Signature Blend from two types of Brazilian beans and one Panamanian. Twelve-ounce bags ($11) are sold online, at the store, and at the restaurant. His fruity Ethiopian Harar blend produces the superb brew at Shagga Coffee and Restaurant; bags are $10.95 there.

Central Coffee

11836 Lee Hwy., Sperryville; 540-987-1006.

This family-run business began ten years ago when husband and wife Kenny and Maggie Rogers found an old coffee roaster and fixed it up. Their company sells single-origin beans from Panama and Sumatra to the Inn at Little Washington, and the restaurant blends them. The result: a full-bodied drink with a chocolaty, smoky flavor. Twelve-ounce bags are available online for $9.55 to $11.50 and in select Whole Foods stores.

Dublin Roasters

75-B W. Main St., New Market; 240-674-1740.

Serina Roy began roasting coffee as a hobby 15 years ago while working as a police officer. She started selling her beans wholesale to coffee shops and in 2000 launched her business. At her retail store, which opened last December, customers can roast and create their own blends. Roy supplies Volt with a smooth, bold blend designed by chef Bryan Voltaggio. Bolt Blend is available at Volt (228 N. Market St., Frederick; 301-696-8658), online, and in Roy’s store for $13 per one-pound bag.


3917 Georgia Ave., NW; 202-248-6423.

Joel Finkelstein, a former health-care-policy reporter and home roaster, opened this coffee shop in May. He sells only retail, and he roasts beans six times a week. He thinks of coffee as others think of produce: He sources seasonally and encourages customers to use the beans within two weeks—which means his are some of the freshest around. His products vary with the seasons, but he usually stocks at least ten kinds. Twelve-ounce bags, stamped with their roast date, cost $10.

Santa Lucia


In 1995, William Gutierrez started importing coffee from his native Nicaragua, which had opened its borders for export just four years earlier. His single-estate Classic Roast coffee—its medium body defined by spicy, sweet, and chocolate notes—is served at Vidalia, Bistro Bis, Marcel’s, Brasserie Beck, and Tosca. It’s available online for $9.99 a pound and at Calvert Woodley (4339 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-966-4400) and select Whole Foods stores.

This appeared in the August, 2009 issue of The Washingtonian.  


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