Coffee of the Real DC

The Coffee Bar

1201 S St NW

Washington, DC 20009


Tucked between the urban suburbia known as DC’s Logan circle neighborhood, The Coffee Bar is just as trendy and charming as its location. Had it not been for the crowds of people sitting outside the shop in retro turquoise chairs and wooden tables, I may just have passed right by. Like most of its S street neighbors, the building that houses the coffee bar was built in 1880. In fact, the Coffee Bar feels more like a living room than, well, a coffee bar.

As I order my iced coffee, I look around for an empty seat. There aren’t many, but I manage to find a space that fits me and all my stuff. In addition to tables and bar stools, the space is furnished with vintage pink couches and chairs that make customers feel like they have just arrived at someone’s country home. Metal ceiling fans give the place a refreshing breeze, and the papered walls are dressed with intentionally crooked frames and edgy street signs. Books and board games are available for borrow.

The Coffee Bar is populated by people who are on their own. Most are reading, writing, or doing work, solo visitors alone together. And they’ve all found companionship in a nice cup of coffee.

If you ever want to get a sense of the unique styles of Washington, DC’s inhabitants, people-watching on Saturday and Sundays will give you the most accurate results. Those who work 9-5 jobs are not dressed for corporate success, and the daytime crowd is not yet dressed to impress with the clothing and accessories they’d wear to the bars at night. Instead, Saturdays and Sundays, at least for most of DC, provide an opportunity for people to dress like themselves. And at The Coffee Bar, this weekday to weekend transformation is particularly evident among customers. Jean and leather jackets replace suits and blazers, sneakers and converse replace heals and loafers. This is the real DC, the one that doesn’t try, the one that sits and enjoys a cup of coffee instead of in a rush on the way to a meeting. This is the DC I like the most.

The owners of The Coffee Bar are just your average coffee addicts. “We believe caffeine should be its own food group,” The website reads. That could be why the shop offers a menu of brews from a diverse list of roasters across America, born in the likes of Maryland, California, Oregon, Arizona, and Colorado.

If you don’t feel like trekking to Logan Circle, there is a new Coffee Bar location in the Golden Triangle neighborhood. It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from my office, so this location is especially convenient when I need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. But it doesn’t have nearly as much space as the original, and it’s closed on the weekends. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

With the seasons changing and springtime upon us, the April showers slowly but surely progressing into may flowers, it’s the perfect time of year to check out all the great neighborhood bars, restaurants, and coffee shops the district has to offer. And The Coffee Bar, I’ve discovered, is definitely one of the best.


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