Food  |  News & Politics

It’s Steamy Outside, but DC’s Masochists Are Still Drinking Hot Coffee

One hot coffee with a side of heatstroke, please.

Photograph by jacoblund via iStock.

Even though this summer has been mild in the grand scheme of things, it’s still July in DC, aka prime back sweat/forehead glow season.

When you’re trapped between two humongous backpacks on a steamy Metro ride, the last thing you’d want to pour into your boiling hot body is an equally boiling hot beverage, right? Well, actually, if you’re one of DC’s die-hard hot coffee acolytes, that is exactly what you want.

Despite today’s 90-something-degree temperatures, most of the folks coming into the Adams Morgan Pitango Gelato this morning for coffee ordered it hot, says manager Lori DeVoe. “We opened at 8 AM and have had about 45-to-50 hot drinks [ordered] out of a total of 80 sales,” says DeVoe. “Even sitting outside—they’ll take a hot tea or a hot coffee and sit outside with it.” (Your correspondent suffered a mild episode of heat stroke just typing out that quote.)

It seems caffeine-drinkers have a similar penchant for masochism on H Street Northeast. “People will order it, and they’ll be like ‘Yeah, I’m getting a hot coffee. I know it’s hot outside—I just like it hot,'” says Ariel Mayes, a barista at the H Street Wydown. Most of the orders are split evenly between hot and cold in the summer, she says, even during the especially toasty, goat-yoga-cancelling heatwave we saw earlier this month.

“There’s a lot of people who are really committed to drinking just hot coffee,” says Mayes. “That’s just what they enjoy.” (For the record, she is #TeamHot, although she is quick to issue a diplomatic statement that she is “not anti-iced coffee.”)

Some members of the Hot Coffee Party approach their choice of beverage with a scientific rationale, says Dolcezza barista Dina Guynef.

“In the morning, people like hotter drinks. I know that’s better for your body temperature to have a hot drink versus a cold drink,” she says. “It just helps with your equilibrium and all that.” (Case in point: She had just finished making a hot latte before picking up the phone.)

About half of the folks who come into the Dupont Circle Dolcezza order warm drinks in the summer, says Guynef, and the majority of these brave souls go for lattes.

But some people might opt for a hot drink just for the emotional pull, says DeVoe. “Maybe it’s just the warm feeling that they like,” she says of these renegades. “It’s always comforting to have a warm drink in your hand.”

So does she think they’re huge, pain-inflicting weirdos? “No, I don’t think so,” she says. “I mean, I drink cold coffee on a winter day.”

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.