After living and working in a number of cities around the world – San Francisco, New York, and Barcelona to name a few – I’ve come to realize every city’s coffee shop culture is unique. But DC’s is particularly special.
Design research has shown where you work can drastically affect your productivity and creativity levels, which explains the rise in design-centric co-working spaces like WeWork and creative companies’ commitment to having aesthetic office spaces.
If you’re working on your side hustle, in the early stages of building something of your own, or dabbling in a creative outlet and are in search of the most aesthetically-pleasing, creatively-stimulating coffee shops the District has to offer, look no further. (And yes, they all have WiFi.)
A Washington favorite, Tryst is a coffeehouse, lounge, and bar in Adams Morgan. At Tryst no two pieces of furniture look the same. Working on a project and need a jolt of creativity? Move to another eclectic couch, or opt for a window bar seat. Tryst brews Counter Culture coffee, and every beverage comes with two adorable animal crackers.
The butternut squash flatbread (loaded with pesto, goat cheese, spinach, and honey) is to die for. If you’re working through happy hour, you can quickly transition from espresso to cocktail– an easy way to start is with an Irish coffee. A quirky institution, Tryst is truly DC’s living room.
2459 18 St NW, Washington, DC 20009 | www.trystdc.com
Tucked away in Park View, Colony Club is an oasis for minimalistic, hipster vibes. A gem of this side of Georgia Avenue, aesthetic letter-board menus greet you when you enter the coffee shop. Natural lighting, ample bar seating, ping pong tables, friendly baristas, and alcohol after 5 are some of the highlights of this shop. I’m normally not the type to like sitting at the bar while working or reading, but I recommend it here – you’ll be lost in your thoughts, and look up to a hip barista passionately brewing another cup.
Grab an espresso drink, and pair it with a sparkling water from their tap (yep, they have sparkling water on tap). If it’s nice out, enjoy the beautiful patio – you can produce some good work and then sip a brew under the sun.
3118 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20010 | www.colonyclubdc.com
Exposed brick walls, monochromatic furniture, and a menu that features java, craft brews, cocktails, and classy bites at this Dupont Circle establishment scream hygge – the Danish concept of coziness – to me. It makes sense that the space gives off Scandinavian vibes; Emissary wants to foster fika, a Swedish notion for taking a break from life to enjoy coffee alone in contemplation or with friends.
After reading and writing in countless cafes in Copenhagen, Scandinavian design truly fuels the creative in me. Which is why Emissary makes this list. Grab a cappuccino (it comes with a piece of dark chocolate, the perfect match), sit by the exposed brick, and get lost in a book or your thoughts. A great spot in a bustling city to slow down and reflect, or work up your next big idea.
2032 P St NW, Washington, DC 20036 | www.emissarydc.com
It’s without a doubt that Erik Bruner-Yang’s H Street establishment snags a spot on this list. A multifaceted marketplace featuring a boutique retail store, esteemed Asian fusion restaurant, and cafe, Maketto is the perfect place to get inspired and creatively stimulated.
The cafe drinks come in beautiful Japanese-styled mugs, complemented by a ginger cookie and palette-cleansing sparkling water on a square, wooden tray. Yes, it’s absolutely perfect for your Instagram (see above). Sit outside on the upstairs patio, order a matcha green tea latte (my favorite), and crack open a book or grab one of the many tastefully curated magazines to get your creative vibes flowing.
1351 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002 | www.maketto1351.com
If you want a taste of hustling, bustling D.C. energy, swing by the newest Compass Coffee location by Franklin Square. Packed with dynamic Washington professionals, this Compass location is the spot to go to when you’re craving the hyperactive spirit of the District.
The DC-native coffee startup by Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez has expanded to 7 locations across the District and is featured at numerous restaurant establishments across town, including the restaurants of the Farmers Restaurant Group.
I don’t typically reach for syrups in my coffee, but Compass makes almost all of their syrups in-house. Chai lovers say goodbye to disappointing, powdered Chai lattes; Compass makes their Chai syrup in-house and it’s delectable. So if you’re feeling a little uninspired and want some people energy, drop by Compass, grab a seat at the bar and take in the best of Washington.
1401 Eye St NW, Washington, DC 20005, and others | www.compasscoffee.com
The Coffee Bar
Nestled between Logan Circle and U Street, The Coffee Bar’s S Street location is where creativity lives. At the corner of a row of quintessential Washington row houses, The Coffee Bar has a homey feel that’s bustling with people and energy.
This location fills up fast and is relatively smaller in space and seating. So grab a window seat for the day, and consider yourself lucky. Or, if the weather is nice, enjoy something iced out on the patio for a comfy, cozy, creative afternoon. I especially love spending Sunday afternoons sipping on a giant mug of espresso & frothy milk outside, people (and dog) watching, while getting lost in a book or magazine. Happy creating.
1201 S St NW, Washington, DC 20009 | www.thecoffeebardc.com
Philz is the pride and joy of the San Francisco Bay Area, and fuels the area’s entrepreneurs, techies, and creatives. Founded in San Francisco’s beloved, counterculture neighborhood, The Mission District, Philz features over 30 unique blends. Each cup is handcrafted just for you. After walking up to one of the baristas at the bar and ordering your java the way you like it, they’ll freshly grind the beans and brew your cup on the spot. Unfortunately, there aren’t any espresso drinks at Philz, but I promise a sweet and creamy Tesora will blow your mind.
As the very first location outside of California, this establishment stays true to its roots with its San Francisco-inspired decor and aesthetic. Sit by the Golden Gate Bridge painting, sip your mint mojito iced coffee, and pretend it isn’t 28 degrees out. It doesn’t matter if the Silicon Valley isn’t your backyard – work out of Philz to feel like you’re creating in the heart of it all.
2 locations: 1827 Adams Mill Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Adams Morgan), 1331 4th St SE #101, Washington, DC 20003 (Navy Yard) | www.philzcoffee.com