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“It’s all very, very strange and we’re beginning to wonder if there’s any secret message behind these ‘coffee filter bombs'”

by Prince Of Petworth October 7, 2016 at 10:15 am 47 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

Please see the attached photo of the front steps of my building on the corner of Mt. Pleasant and Lamont. This is at least the 3rd time I have seen this in the past few weeks. It’s strange for a few reasons: 1. Nobody takes the trash out the front door, so it’s unlikely that this fell out of someone’s trashbag 2. What are the chances that only the used coffee filter always ends up on the top of our stairs? 3. There’s been an increase in the number of stolen deliveries/packages inside the building and this isn’t an issue we’ve had in the past.

It’s all very, very strange and we’re beginning to wonder if there’s any secret message behind these “coffee filter bombs”. Are they code for something? Are they just marking a location? Is it a very strange coincidence after all? I’m wondering if anyone else has seen these or is experiencing something similar? Would appreciate outsourcing this!”

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like an offshoot of the Wet Bandits.

    • Bort

      You’re sick, you know that? You’re really sick.

  • samanda_bynes

    go to flying fish and DEMAND answers. but, yeah, very strange – could indeed be some sort of strange mark.

  • textdoc

    Very odd. The only thing I can think of its that maybe coffee grounds discourage some kind of pest, like mice or roaches… but I can’t imagine a building management company using this as a pest-control approach.

    • anon&confused

      Roaches actually love coffee, sadly.

      • Anonymous

        Yes, and they’re why you should always buy whole bean coffee. Ground coffee frequently contains roach parts.
        I learned this with the original NPR broadcast, but you can read about it here. It was a fascinating side-story that changed the way I buy coffee: http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/are-there-ground-up-cockroaches-in-your-coffee
        Sorry to gross you out.

        • INWDC

          That’s nasty…but thankfully I always buy whole beans since they just taste fresher.

        • DC Denizen

          Fascinating. But I don’t get how they can’t separate the roaches from the beans before grinding, yet they are able to do it when they bag whole bean for you? The premise of the article is that you should buy whole bean instead of ground coffee, yet there isn’t an explanation for how they are able to get the roaches out of the beans for whole bean. I’ve bought whole bean and I’ve never once seen a roach or any of their parts in it.

        • textdoc

          Yikes. I’m glad I’m not a coffee drinker.

          • wdc

            +1. But honestly, I doubt tea is any less buggy.

          • gotryit

            I hope you don’t drink OJ either.

        • JS

          Y’all should never read the FDA Defect Levels Handbook then.

  • TJ

    Pourovers gone bad. I’m sure a clown is involved.

  • You live in a city full of people who litter without remorse. Doubt highly it’s a secret message.

    • Hill Denizen

      But who walks out of the house with a used coffee filter?

      • Ben

        If guess its someone above chunking it out the window.

      • textdoc

        I have run into some STRANGE litter in D.C. — stuff that I can’t figure out how someone would have on their person or in their car. Namely, an empty bottle of Ajax dishwashing liquid and (on another occasion) an empty bottle of Mrs. Butterworth’s pancake syrup.
        That said, I think the accidentally-blown-off-windowsill theory seems plausible for the coffee grounds.

        • Anon

          The empty bottles are from sloppy recycling collection.

          • textdoc

            No — these were in the gutter, and my neighborhood has trash/recycling pickup in the alley.
            (If I’d seen them in the alley, I’d know they were from sloppy recycling collection.)

    • NH Ave Hiker


  • anon&confused

    It’s a dead drop!

  • bruno

    I often leave the coffee filer with grounds and the sill to dry and, later, scatter the grounds to the wind, back to the earth. Could someone have left this on a sill likewise and a gust knocked it to the tiles?

    • bruno

      Oops. “… on the sill to dry…”

    • anon

      While I hadn’t thought of that possibility, I did think that this probably came from a window in your building.

      I’ve known some people do keep used coffee grounds to put around plants for some reason – not sure what they do for the soil, but it is a fairly common thing.

      • LontheHill

        Yes–coffee grounds are mildly acidic and contain nitrogen, so they are often added to the soil of plants that thrive in acidic soil. We add it to our potted lemon and lime trees :)

    • Anon

      This sounds like the most reasonable explanation so far

    • K

      I was coming here to say the same thing. I dry mine on the porch to make it easier to mix in the garden soil. I used to toss the filter and grounds in the composter but those filters don’t really compost well. It’s easier to just dry them and then separate out the dry grounds and toss the filter.

      You likely have an upstairs neighbor who likes to garden.

      • bruno

        And that would also explain why it occurs regularly — with their coffee drinking habits. (I am pleased to know other people do this! I paused before I publicly confessed to my coffee ground drying habits!)

        • bruno

          Also, at this time of year, squirrels chirp and frolic over sills in Mount Pleasant, their actions prone to knocking grounds off sills….

  • Mike

    Call 9-1-1.

  • Halfsmoke

    It’s an old Sicilian mob symbol. Luca Brasi sleeps with the decaf.

  • I Dont Get It

    Gang War…Bloods versus the Drips?

    • FridayGirl

      Hahahaha…. good one….

  • Becky

    Yeah I think your coffee filter culprit has a kitchen window above the building’s entrance.

  • Salvadore Rotollo

    Slugs, y’all. Coffee grounds keep slugs away.

  • hammers

    Someone is probably just throwing them out the window

    • JoDa

      I once had a neighbor in a nearby building whose preferred diaper disposal method was to hurl them out a window into the alley. Coffee grounds are less offensive than that, but could be the same attitude.
      (Another neighbor “handled it” when she was sitting on her deck one day and witnessed the hurling…up to that point we had assumed they were falling out of the can on trash day.)

      • WTF

        • JoDa

          People are gross and/or lazy. I went toe-to-toe with a neighbor who had dropped COIN on a flipped home in my current neighborhood (over $700K) who put their household trash in the street cans every night. First they said that they preferred to do that because the street cans are collected 6 days a week while their household trash was only collected once a week. Then they said that they didn’t want their trash cans attracting vermin to their property. Then they said that they didn’t get trash cans “with” their home and didn’t feel they should pay for them. They finally left enough of the address label on some mail they discarded for a DPW inspector to track them down and fine them, and that ended it.
          For those who say “why bother fighting it?” to people putting household trash in street cans:
          1. The cans fill up and then their intended use (a place for people to put trash when passing by) is ineffective, so trash ends up scattered around the cans and blowing into neighboring yards.
          2. Street cans don’t have lids, so the vermin have easy access. While I was fighting this battle, there were many days that I came out in the morning to find that raccoons/rats had a field day with their food waste in the can, and the entire block was a mess (full-on trash bag dragged out, ripped open, and dinner discards all down the block).
          3. RECYCLE, PLEASE. That mail they tossed that ultimately got them fined? A lot of it was not-broken-down shipping boxes. Not only do those fill up the cans FAST, but THEY’RE NOT TRASH!

  • Evan Tupac Grooter

    I spread my coffee grounds on my azaleas because they love the acid. Someone could be doing something similar, albeit sloppily.

    • bruno

      Coffee gives one jitters after all.

  • DC!

    Are you sure it’s coffee? Maybe you have a meth lab in your bldg. they use coffee filters somehow in the production process.

    Or maybe squirrels are to blame

    • textdoc

      Probably squirrels running a meth lab.

      • Bort

        Occam’s razor slices again!

  • MaidofMtP

    Wow. Did not expect to see my front stoop on the internet this morning.

  • Petworthwhile

    Any chance this could be left by someone who’s homeless/free-camping and sleeping on your stoop?

  • Kenny

    I used to live at 18th and Kilbourne. It’s more to littering in these cryptic messages


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