April 10, 2017

D.C. Coffee Wars: Penn Quarter


I’ll preface this blog by letting everyone know that I’m by no means a coffee connoisseur. I’m used to brewing Cuban espresso coffee in a pot – something I learned I was doing wrong from a friend who drank my coffee and went a full 24 hours with no sleep. With that tidbit in mind, I know I like my coffee strong and served cappuccino style. Every Saturday morning I go on the hunt for a cappuccino that will satisfy my morning caffeine cravings, so here’s my take on Penn Quarter’s coffee shop offerings based on their coffee, vibes and any little extra details I find.

Compass Coffee

A “Made in D.C.” staple, Compass Coffee lives up to their slogan: “Real good coffee. Made in D.C.” Their Penn Quarter shop, located next to the Verizon Center, veers away from the typical coffee house vibes for a more social and energetic Chinatown experience. The service is quick and the shop also offers diverse food options ranging from kolaches to locally sourced snacks. If you’re looking to meet a group of friends for coffee, this is definitely the spot. I got to listen to Drake’s “Passionfruit” while sipping my cappuccino, which in my book is a great start to a morning.

Chinatown Coffee Co.

Located on the corner of 5th and H St., this no-frills coffee shop is a hidden gem to the Chinatown neighborhood. Chinatown Coffee Co. specializes in cups of coffee made with extra love and care, in an environment that’s conducive to getting down to business. As an independent coffee shop, you can tell Chinatown Coffee Co. gives their baristas room to experiment. A large glass drip coffee mechanism stands at the front of the store, evidence that this spot approaches coffee-making as a science. Finally, tapping into my ultimate weakness and giving me that extra incentive to choose their shop, Chinatown Coffee Co. serves District Doughnuts. ‘Nuff said.

La Colombe


La Colombe’s craftsmanship extends beyond a good cup of coffee and is also showcased through their brand and design. Their Penn Quarter space is designed beautifully, with urban industrial influences like exposed brick and unique outdoor lamps illuminating their logo. Inside, you’ll find vintage espresso machines juxtaposed with marble countertops and orchids. Although the shop is small, once I nestle into my seat with my cappuccino I stay for hours. La Colombe serves some of the most unique coffee blends I’ve tried, which encourages me to stay and really savor my cappuccinos each time I visit.