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Final Seven Contenders for the Definitive Best Coffee in DC – Vote for your favorite Now!

by Prince Of Petworth January 3, 2017 at 12:45 pm 50 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Eline Soinne

On Friday we posted an epic poll for Best Coffee in DC. Because there were so many nominations, a reader suggested narrowing it down to a final poll. Here are the top 7 out of 47 (who received at least 100 votes). Honorable mention to Tryst and Filter for coming in just shy. And we should take a second to realize how lucky we are to have so many great options these days. But an arbitrarily selected best must be ordained! Pick your favorite and remember these results/bragging rights last for two years.

  • n3

    Where’s the top 7 poll? The link just goes back to the original post.

    • Mug of Glop

      Do you have NoScript (or something else) disabling content from polldaddy.com? Enabling traffic from that domain worked for me to make the poll appear.

      • n3

        Thanks! I think you were right that my work browser was blocking it. I used my phone and it appeared.

        • Ah I hadn’t realized that – apologies and hope it works for most folks!

  • Shaw_Resident

    How is Compass a finalist for the best coffee? Am I the only one who cannot stand the taste of their coffee? I am not a coffee snob by any means, but their coffee tastes awful to me!

    • Compass actually won the first poll with 13.62% of the vote.

    • Truxton Thomas

      I like their coffee, but you’re definitely not the first person on PoP to hate on Compass. I think they have good coffee and a lot of variety—though I love all the local coffee houses as well as Philz and La Colombe—so I don’t understand the problem. But they do indeed seem to elicit mixed opinions.

    • neighbor

      Completely agree. It’s a nice place to do work, but both the beans and the quality of beverages made at the locations are terrible. My main takeaway from this poll is that a lot of popville readers don’t actually like coffee.
      Qualia and Peregrine are both great.

    • MadMax

      They are a finalist because they got the most votes in the primary. It’s just math.

      • Anon

        Hmmmm. They have a lot of locations, which could scew this.

    • oh2dc

      I agree. I love specialty coffee and go out of my way to seek great beans and cafes. I like everything about Compass (story, atmosphere, etc.), except the coffee. I find no improvement by getting espresso drinks. The coffee is not offensive, but it’s just not that good. I am happy for their success, but surprised. I am even more perplexed by Philz. I think Philz is undrinkable.

      • MadMax

        Yeah I really dislike Philz as well. I find Compass perfectly suitable though, both the nitro in store and beans to take home to brew. (although I typically stick only to the darker roasts)

    • Anon

      I’m with you on your puzzlement. I *really* don’t like their coffee, and find it in explicable that so many people do. To each their own *I guess.*

  • dcd

    I would be fascinated to know how many people actually have had the coffee at each (or even half) of these places, such that their opinion actually carries some weight. I know in the original poll, I voted for my local coffee place (B&W) because I really like its coffee, but had no frame of reference other than one or two of the other sole proprietorships (and the chains, of course).

    • MadMax

      I don’t feel like counting through the original list, but I’ve definitely been to all of these (at least one location, for those with multiple). TCB would be my choice, but only the Logan/Shaw border location, not the downtown one. I’m looking forward to Compass’ huge roasting and tasting facility opening in Ivy City though, should be cool for coffee nerds.

    • Tsar of Truxton

      I have been to 5 of the 7, but you would need to visit each on multiple occassions to really have an informed vote. It is just a fun little poll.

    • MB

      I’ve tried coffee from all of these places and I like a weaker coffee so I really like TCB and Compass. The others are all way too strong for me. I’ve been told that I really don’t like coffee, I like the hint of coffee with my milk. Totally valid point. For real coffee experts, TCB & Compass probably fall short. To each their own….

    • Anon

      The most I’d take away from this poll is the relative population density around each one of those locations. This is far from scientific on just about every level – don’t overthink it.

  • Mojotron

    There should be two separate contests- one for coffee and one for espresso & espresso drinks. While TCB and Wydown make espresso drinks properly overall they’re kinda bland, La Colombe is better but still blandish. Qualia’s the opposite, their espresso has a very distinctive strong flavor that some may find off-putting. Philz doesn’t do espresso at all. For espresso, I’d rate it Compass>Peregrine>Colombe>Wydown>Qualia>TCB, and places like Swings, Chinatown coffee, Bump & Grind, Illy, Baked & Wired, and Filter would have probably made it to the finals.

    • shawportie

      Filter’s Coffee the best coffee in town – somehow never makes it to any lists. TCB and Chinatown coffee are also very good. I don’t think any of these people doing the polls know what they are talking about. Sorry!

  • Rich

    Swing’s coffee is horrible. Another poll might be for service, while Perigrine is forgettable for the coffee & espresso, the service just reeks of attitude.

    • MadMax

      I think the Eastern Market location is significantly better than 14th Street, in the service regard.

    • K

      Peregrine’s service at Union Market is top notch. I’ve stopped by for an iced coffee almost every week day morning for years (yes, I know I could save money if I made my morning coffee at home) and I can say I have always had friendly service.

      That said, I have never been to their 14th street store and haven’t been to their Eastern Market location in many years.

      • MadMax

        I forgot about the little kiosk in Union Market, I’ve definitely never had bad service there either.

    • Hill Denizen

      The last thing Peregrine’s coffee is is forgettable. I distinctly remember my espresso being so undrinkable that I threw half of it after drinking the first half like it was cough syrup. I don’t care if it has a complex flavor profile. I want my coffee to taste like coffee.

    • dcgator

      I agree—only been to Peregrine once, and the barista was so attitudinal (I made it up, deal), that just the one encounter was enough for me to be like, “Peregrine? Nah.”

  • kd21

    I’ve gotta say, I have no idea where the love for Compass is coming from. The coffee is barely a step up from Starbucks, and not even in the same league as The Coffee Bar, La Colombe, or Peregrine. That it’s head and shoulders above its competitors in these polls is suggestive of either people voting on criteria other than coffee, or Russian hacking.

    And don’t even get me started on Philz. That iced mint mojito is pretty delish, but closer to a Frappuccino than a coffee. Everything else is well-nigh undrinkable.

    • Tsar of Truxton

      That’s the thing. People have differing taste buds. Millions of people turn to Dunkin Donuts every day, but I think it is nasty. I happen to like Compass (and Starbucks for that matter). I also like Peregrine and TCB, but I think La Colombe is terrible. To each his/her own.

      • kd21

        I fully appreciate that everyone has different tastes, but here’s the thing. Compass Coffee isn’t even in the same league as Peregrine, TCB, et al. This is an objective statement.

        I like Taco Bell. I maybe even like it more than most people. But when someone asks me what the best taco in DC is, people will give me a weird look if I say Taco Bell, and it implies I’m actually either A) not thinking of the best taco, but instead the best drunk food, the most convenient taco place to my apartment, or I have fond memories growing up of eating Taco Bell, or whatever, or B) don’t have any idea what I’m talking about when it comes to tacos. This is what is happening with this poll and Compass Coffee.

        It’s great that you and other people like Compass and Starbucks! I like Taco Bell. But I’m not trying to claim that Taco Bell has the best tacos in town.

  • Herewegoagain

    At the risk of being pilloried, I will ask. Any possibility of a de-caf category? I like Philz because they have a decent selection. I really want to love Flying Fish but their decaf is undrinkable and only available in espresso. And most of the time Starbucks just isn’t worth the effort.

    • Tsar of Truxton

      What is the effort associated with Starbucks? You mean standing in line? If so, there is an app for that! Seriously, I don’t understand why more people don’t use the Starbucks app. It is soooooo easy. Even if you don’t think about it in advance, you can just pull out the app when you get there and basically cut the line. Also, as an aside, after the last poll, I tried the Starbucks Reserve, which I had never heard of before (I make my own Nespresso most mornings). It is crazy expensive, but it is a really good cup of coffee.

  • Rickster

    DC has a sad coffee scene. Plenty of upscale cafes, and a lot of weak, off-flavored coffee. I have not had a truly great cup of coffee since I moved here in 2010. That being said, I love Zeke’s coffee and their beans are great for making a good cup at home.

    • MadMax

      Out of curiosity, where did you have a truly great cup of coffee prior to moving here?

    • Truxton Thomas

      That’s funny, because Zeke’s is about the only localish brewer I don’t like. I found the cups I’ve had from them completely flavorless. Again, to each their own.

      • MadMax

        +1, not good.

    • Timmy

      Rickster – you can’t drop in with a comment like this without telling us where you come from, what some of your favorite coffee shops were, and what beans they served. Your comment comes across as uninformedly (to make up a word) snobbish.

      You can get beans from many of the top roasters in the country here (in this sad coffee scene): MadCap, PT, Heart, Stumptown, Counter Culture, Coava, Four Barrel, Intelligentsia, Ceremony, and many many more.

      • MadMax

        And a Blue Bottle location coming in 2017.

  • MtP

    I hate voting for a non-local contender, but the draft Black & Tan from La Colombe is by far my favorite coffee in DC.

    • divebar311

      Still counts, hence why it’s in the poll :)

  • bloomingdalepal

    Compass Coffee is a facade. It’s third wave coffee aesthetic with Starbucks quality coffee. They are detrimental to coffee in DC. If/when they expand outside of the District and their “local” vibe wears off, coffee communities will take note. They also do not believe in Direct Trade coffee and think it’s a marketing ploy. When the physical agricultural product of coffee is not local to anywhere in the US, creating a supply chain that is to farm to cup is paramount & Compass misses the mark on this entirely.

    • JP

      I couldn’t agree more. !00% marketing.

  • wpk_dc

    POP: I’m not a coffee drinker but I am a HUGE coffee shop-goer (tea only, please). Are we voting for the quality of the coffee itself (I can’t say) or the atmosphere, staff, overall quality, and vibe (I definitely can say)? In fact I’m a regular at several of these.

  • Rohail

    Filter was ROBBED. Also, what about Grace Street Coffee?

  • divebar311

    I went to La Colombe’s new flagship cafe in Fishtown recently and that sealed the deal on my vote.

  • NikkiL

    The Coffee Bar has hands down the best coffee in DC!


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