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Washington, DC: 12 Cozy Coffee Shops to Try

“Starbucks, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks again.” This, understandably, is 80% of the coffee shop scene in Washington, DC. In this business-driven city, coffee shops simply become a place to fuel yourself. But if you’re anything like me, during the cold winter months you crave a cozy coffee shop to settle into and relax. Thus began my search for the best coffee shops in DC...

1. Tryst

2459 18th Street NW

Washington, DC 20009

What to order: Lavender Hot Chocolate, Taro & Beetroot Latte (pictured)


Food options: Full breakfast menu, sandwiches, salads, bakery

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Full of couches and tables, this large cafe still feels intimate and warm as you settle in with a delicious craft latte. Tryst is a personal favorite, if only because of its atmosphere. It is perfectly styled in a way that allows you to sink into your chair and catch up with old friends. It also has a delicious full breakfast/lunch menu if you’d like to order something to eat while you work and read. Expect it to be busy, but worth it.

2. Big Bear Cafe

1700 1st Street NW

Washington, DC 20001

What to order: Seasonal Selection


Food options: Full breakfast and late-night menu

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Big Bear Cafe is one of the few coffee shops that takes you out of your typical Washingtonian vibe. When I moved to DC, I was disappointed to find that there are very few warm, wooden cafes like you might find in the pacific northwest. Big Bear Cafe is basically the one exception. With eclectic wooden chairs, old tables, and vintage decor, this coffee shop truly allows you to cozy on in and relax in the kind of cafe environment you crave in the business world of Washington, DC.

P.S. It is also a good night spot, often hosting intimate shows with drinks and late night snacks.

3. La Colombe

924 Blagden Alley NW

Washington, DC 20001

(Various Locations)

What to order: Draft Latte

WIFI: No (depending on location)

Food options: A few pastries and snacks (depending on location)

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This is one chain that I would actually recommend to everyone. In Washington, DC, there are multiple locations around the city, so it is fairy easy to find one a walk away. La Colombe breaks away from the typical chain by having multiple locations that are wifi-free. Although this can be frustrating to a lot of Washingtonians, it creates a space that allows for conversation and rest if you are simply trying to sit down with some friends to chat instead of finding yourself at a tech hub. I am addicted to the Draft Latte here; warm or cold, I order this creamy, delicious drink.

P.S. I highly suggest visiting the Blagden Alley location!

4. A Baked Joint

440 K Street NW

Washington, DC 20001

What to order: Black Eye, Matcha Latte, Tea


Food options: Sandwiches, salads, fresh breads, pastries, Thursday/Friday night pizza

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Opened by the same folx that bring you Baked & Wired, A Baked Joint is a delicious cafe stop in your day. Even as a wifi dead zone, it is constantly full of people chatting, reading, and working on projects. The delicious breakfast sandwich selection and mix of fresh breads and beverages is why the line wraps around the room every Saturday and Sunday morning. Be patient, because it moves quickly. Maybe tag team with a friend to find a spot to sit.

5. The Coffee Bar

1201 S Street NW

Washington, DC 20009

What to order: Honey Badger


Food options: Pastries and a few breakfast sandwiches, depending on the time

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One of my favorites, The Coffee Bar is a comfortable and home-y cafe that allows for space to work and chat. Mostly made of stools and clean work spaces, with a cushioned chair or two, I would say The Coffee Bar is a good stop if you want to get some studying done or are looking for a open space to chat and grab some coffee. Don’t come and expect to eat too much, they have some good select pastries but only while supplies last. I was able to grab the last chocolate chip banana bread slice the last time I was there, and it did not disappoint.

6. Chinatown Coffee Co.

475 H Street NW

Washington, DC 20001

What to order: Chai Latte, basic coffee

WIFI: If you’re lucky

Food options: Small assortment of pastries

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Don’t expect an overwhelming amount of plush seating or fast WIFI. Chinatown Coffee Co. is a sliver of a coffee shop, just off the beaten path of the busy Chinatown area. What you can expect is good pure coffee and space to sit intimately with friends at a one-of-a-kind cafe. Since Chinatown Coffee Co. is a clear stop-by for the locals that resist the Starbucks world we live in, you will be pleased to find it full of regulars.

7. Dolcezza

99 District Square SW

Washington, DC 20024

What to order: Cappuccino

WIFI: Depending on location

Food options: Gelato, filling snacks

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I don’t care how cold it is, gelato is always a good choice. Dolcezza may be known for being a gelato stop, but in the winter it truly thrives as a coffee shop. The aesthetic is clean and pretty, reminding me of a fresh European cafe. The tall windows allow you to stay cozy and warm while enjoying the snowy view outside. If you happen to find yourself at the Wharf location, make sure to try the tater tots. Seriously. They are delicious and you get practically a bucket of them for just a few bucks (my weakness).

8. The Wydown Coffee Bar

1924 14th Street NW

Washington, DC 20009

What to order: Espresso


Food options: A few select pastries

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Although Wydown is small, it is commonly full and bustling. As a common meet up spot to grab a drink on 14th street, it can be hard to find a seat depending on the time of day. Wydown is great if you are looking for a simple but good drink and some conversation. Don’t come expecting to get work done or a quiet space for reading, as Wydown truly functions as a meet up spot.

9. Peregrine Espresso

1718 14th Street NW

Washington, DC 20009

What to order: Specialty drink, espresso


Food Options: Light snacks

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Peregrine Espresso is the perfect spot if you want some peace and quiet in a bright, airy space. Like Wydown, it sits on 14th, but there’s a stark contrast between the two. Peregrine Espresso is to the morning hours as Wydown is to after-hours. It offers great space to read and have a quality cup of coffee while enjoying light music and an intimate space.

10. Bakers & Baristas

501 7th Street NW

Washington, DC 20005

What to order: Basic coffees and teas


Food options: Select pastries

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Close to the national mall, Bakers & Baristas is a great stop on your snowy walk if you need to defrost a bit. With high windows and a simple menu, settle into the corner booths and consider bringing over some delicious cupcakes from Red Velvet next door (they encourage it!).

11. Maison Kayser

650 Massachusetts Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20001

What to order: Cappuccino and a Dark Chocolate Viennoise


Food options: Fresh pastries and breads, pre-made refrigerated salads and sandwiches, connected restaurant in the back

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Maison Kayser, which first started popping up around NYC and then more recently set up two new locations in DC, is stylized to look like a clean Parisian cafe. Full of fresh breads and pastries each day, it is a wonderful stop if you want some food with your coffee break. If you are just swinging by, there is a whole refrigerated section with yogurts and sandwiches to grab, but if you would like to stick around for a bit, I also suggest the connected cafe with more substantial meals.

12. Grace Street Coffee Roasters

3210 Grace Street NW

Washington, DC 20007

What to order: Latte


Food options: Surrounding food stalls

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If you want to take a break from the beautiful but full Blue Bottle Coffee just minutes away, this hidden gem is a great stop to pick up some simple coffee and food. Grace Street Coffee Roasters shares an open space with multiple food stalls, which allows you to pick out a meal and wander around while you wait for your coffee, although I suggest staying up front if you want to stay in “cafe mode.” While Grace Street Coffee Roasters is less “snuggly” per se, its mission of only serving responsibly-sourced coffee in small batches makes it a delicious stop for any coffee lover.

Any other suggestions? Let us know!

Written by Emi Lungmus

Photos by Emi Lungmus & Anna McCarthy

Edited by Anna McCarthy


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