The Ten: Best Coffee Shops

Words and photo by Nevin Martell

So many choices, so little time. The Ten is your guide to the best of the best that D.C. has to offer.

This installment pays homage to the kings and queens of caffeine who keep this CityEats writer juiced at all hours of the day.


Qualia Coffee

This boutique beanery in Petworth roasts hard-to-find varietals from around the globe, making it the premiere destination for java junkies.

Baked & Wired

Come for the coffee, stay for the expansive selection of cupcakes. And the gloriously gluttonous brownies. And the Hippie Crack (aka granola). This Georgetown favorite lives up to its name admirably.


With locations in Dupont Circle and Foggy Bottom, this craft coffee shop exclusively uses beans locally sourced from Annapolis, Md.’s Ceremony Coffee Roasters. Half a dozen varieties are usually available as pour overs for discerning forty weight fans.

Peregrine Espresso

Whether you’re on Capitol Hill, browsing Union Market, or taking a trip down the 14th Street corridor, you should make time to grab a latte, dopio or a micro-brew at this hometown hero.

Pound The Hill

Hill staffers and hipsters alike love this Capitol Hill favorite. Make sure you order the addictive Nutella latte, which features a triple threat: chocolate, hazelnut and espresso. 

Chinatown Coffee Co.

If you’re not in the mood for some primo Joe, you can always opt for absinthe, beer, or wine here. Sweet tooths can also enjoy a paleta from Pleasant Pops or gelato from Dolcezza.

Sidamo Coffee & Tea

With a rich chocolaty start and an earthy, nutty finish, their Iced Ja Mocha alone is worth a trip over to H Street.


This long-loved AdMo institution is equal parts café and pick up joint. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to score a cappuccino and a cutie at the same time.

Big Bear Café

Recently appointed chef John Cochran has a Best New Chef award from Food & Wine on his mantle, so you can be assured of a fine meal to complement your Americano at this Eckington fixture.

Northside Social

Arlingtonians love to hang out for hours at this neighborhood cornerstone, which offers beautifully arted lattes alongside baked goodies and heartier fare like sandwiches and salads.

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  • SE

    how is it possible that you don’t have Swing on this list. makes me think you don’t really like coffee. Do you just like trendy places?

  • Catherine Aselford

    So glad you included Baked & Wired! Best coffeehouse I’ve ever been to.

  • District Downer

    While many think of it as only gelato, Dolcezza should really be on this list

  • Alia J. Khan

    Great list! Coffee shops are a tough subject to make a “top ten” of because there are so many different criteria. Some people care about pastry and food options, some care about seating and wifi options, and some just care about the coffee itself. Even there, coffee tastes are so subjective it’s tough to really rank “the best” ones. I think you did a great job of spanning the range and picking the best ones that fall into all of the above categories, and then some. Thanks!

  • Richard Renzulli

    I’ve been to Chinatown Coffee Co – really liked it, 9 to go.

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