Credit: Laura Hayes

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Roasted is a column exploring D.C.’s coffee scene from the perspective of journalist and coffee shop connoisseur Christina Sturdivant Sani. Read on for insight into cafe culture—the ambiance, vibe, and perks—as opposed to nerdy coffee talk about gadgets and magic beans. 

Where: 923 15th St. NW

Time of visit: 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday

What I’m Drinking: Vanilla latte with oat milk

Ambiance: Dua Coffee, a months-old Indonesian coffee shop, is a welcome addition to the area surrounding the White House, which is dominated by larger coffee chains. Walking into Dua instantly gave me neighborhood coffee shop feels, like I was no longer surrounded by downtown office buildings but on a tree-lined street further north. The front of the modern, narrow shop is full of natural light. A couple of bar stools and floor-to-ceiling windows near the entrance are great for people watching.

Beautiful mugs handmade in Indonesia are on display to my left. I was happy to learn that they weren’t for sale just yet, but available for use inside the shop. To the right is a striking mural, symbolizing what I interpret as feminine strength and healing energy. While the front space is bright and energetic, there is more seating in the dimly lit back of the shop, which seemed to offer a warm space to settle in. 

Vibe: A friendly barista walked me through the drink menu. I then sat at a communal table in the rear with a friend, who quickly noticed the shop’s biggest drawback. The low ceilings make the space more intimate, but they also contribute to its poor acoustics. We were able to hear quite clearly the conversations of our neighbors, who sat in small groups of two and four. Since this made it difficult for us to chat, I imagine it would also be distracting for things I tend to do in coffee shops, such as work remotely and take phone calls. 

Wired: Free wifi access and an adequate number of plugs for charging electronics.

Perks: Lots of specialty drinks and food options, including an Indonesian treat known as a piscok that combines bananas and chocolate in a crispy wrapper.

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