News & Politics

This Woman Tried to Flirt While Working Remotely From DC Coffee Shops. She Documented It All for Us.

Her tips: Go to a cozy coffee shop, don’t wear headphones, and make eye contact.

Photo via Getty Images.

Earlier this month, a post in the Washington, DC subreddit caught my eye: Places to telework and possibly be hit on? 

I slid into the DMs of the Redditor who made the post, a 25-year-old woman working in progressive advocacy who moved to DC a couple months after the pandemic hit. The woman, who lives in Shaw and asked to stay anonymous due to her job, had recently ended a relationship and wasn’t ready to get back on the apps, but she still wanted to dip a toe into the dating world and meet someone IRL.

Everything I do has been so virtual and online, down to exercising on a Peloton. Everything is on my phone, and I think after Covid, I’ve been so sick of it and sick of the screen,” she says. “It would be nice to be flirted with in the wild, to feel attractive and pursued. I felt like it could be a confidence booster.”

So she went to a coffee shop every day one week in August with the intention of finding a date, and documented her experience for Washingtonian. Spoiler alert—no meet-cutes, but she did leave with some overall takeaways for her fellow coffee shop date-seekers: Go to a spot where the tables are placed close together (think Tryst, not Tatte), don’t wear headphones, and don’t be afraid to make eye contact.

“There’s nothing to lose. You’re already losing if you don’t even try,” she says. “I think it would be really cool if everyone would meet more in person. We are becoming so isolated and depending so much more on apps for dating. I miss when people would come together.” 

Below, her dispatch from a week of attempted coffee shop flirting.

Day One: Monday, August 15

Tatte Bakery and Cafe (Capitol Crossing) 

I arrive around 11:30 a.m. and purchase an iced latte and chocolate spiral. I choose to sit at a little cafe table for two near a handsome guy who grimaces at me when I try to make eye contact—but now I am sitting and I cannot get up (life alert). No outlets near me (-1). 

Those that are working alone are staring deeply into the black mirror void of their laptops and not smiling. Those that are in groups are talk-yelling and they have belt holders for their phones. It’s not a particularly seductive scene, but it is a Monday morning. Around 12:30 p.m. more people pour in, but the crowd seems grumpy. How can you be mean in a bakery? I decide to try somewhere else.

Workplace atmosphere: 4/5 

Noise: 1/5 (loud)

Flirty scale: 2/5

Food/drink: 5/5

Compass Coffee (7th Street in Shaw)

I arrive at 2 p.m. An attractive guy comes and sits next to me, so I smile and make eye contact (per the suggestions on my Reddit post). I ask him to watch my stuff while I run to the bathroom. He accepts! I proceed to drop a large iced coffee onto the floor. Like 12 oz. He looks disappointed in me and says “It’s okay” with a frown. He left without interacting again. 

Workplace atmosphere: 4/5

Noise: 3/5 (moderate) 

Flirty scale: 3/5

Food/drink: 2/5

Day Two: Tuesday, August 16

I had to work from home because of stacked Zoom calls.

Day Three: Wednesday, August 17

Coffee Bar (Logan Circle)

Arrival at 11:30 a.m. There’s no free WiFi, even though there’s an abundance of people working on the patio with laptops. Thankfully, I have a mobile hotspot. After an hour or so, a man carrying luggage who seems European sits across from me. He pulls out a 35mm camera and proceeds to photograph the coffee shop. Then he turns the camera…toward me? I refuse to make eye contact, but I do adjust my posture. He leaves. I leave. I am a coward. 

Workplace atmosphere: 2/5

Noise: 3/5

Flirty scale: 3/5

Food drink: 4/5

Compass Coffee (Shaw, 8th Street)

After eating a sandwich at Union Kitchen, I arrive at 2 p.m. The barista is very cute and we chat about me dropping an entire coffee at Coffee Bar. They tell me to not be ashamed. I get a cup of tea. People here are…very attractive! Vibes are very quiet, though. Everyone has headphones in. No one looks up when a new person enters the seating area (this is a metric for me when I rate flirtiness).

Workplace atmosphere:4/5

Noise: 1/5 (silent)

Flirty scale: 1/5

Food/drink: 2/5

Day Four: Thursday, August 18

Tryst (Adams Morgan) 

Arrival at 11:00 a.m. Morning vibes here are way better than afternoon vibes. I would say the best place to sit is the back corner. Asked a cute gentleman to watch my bag while I went to the bathroom. Got a grunt response. Tried eye-flirting with someone. It didn’t work. Maybe I’m not cut out (or attractive enough) for this. 

Workplace atmosphere: 3/5

Noise: 2/5

Flirty scale: 2/5

Food/drink: 3/5

Day Five: Friday, August 19

Yours Truly Lounge 

Hotels are inherently sexy…or so I thought. Something about carbo-loading at Call Your Mother kind of removes any sexiness from a modern hotel lounge. There are way more women working here than men, but the chairs are the most comfortable I have ever experienced. I will definitely be returning. I think it might get sexier here in the evening after the bagel fest is over. 

Workplace atmosphere: 4/5

Noise: 4/5

Flirty scale: 2/5

Food/drink: 5/5

The Line Hotel 

To continue the hotel experience, I decided to go to The Line Hotel’s lounge. Vibes are good here on a Friday afternoon. I choose to sit closer to the bar, but I end up sitting away from people. Bad call on my end. I sit behind a guy at the bar who’s talking to the bartender about his travels with his fiancée (not present) and watch him swipe through Bumble in between drinks. I think this place has the capacity to have a great meet-cute in the afternoons on Thursday or Friday. It gets more lively in the evening and later on in the week. 

Workplace atmosphere: 4/5

Noise: 4/5

Flirty scale: 3.5/5 

Food/drink: 5/5 

Grace Deng
Editorial Fellow