Roasted is a new recurring 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: 2101 L St. NW; (202) 525-1886; bourboncoffeeusa.com
Time of visit: 1 p.m. on a Tuesday
What I’m drinking: Pleasantly surprised to find rice milk as a non-dairy milk option, I gave it a try and ended up with a very sweet and light iced vanilla latte.
Ambiance: After launching in Kigali, Rwanda, Bourbon Coffee opened its first U.S. outpost in Foggy Bottom in 2009. The airy coffee shop is furnished to suit a variety of purposes and people. For solo customers or couples, I recommend sitting in the cozy nook near the entrance or the window’s counter stools for people watching.
Aesthetically, the space is designed to promote Bourbon’s philosophy of producing coffee that is “naturally crop-to-cup.” There’s an orangutan-orange wall with a map of the five Rwandan regions where coffee beans are sourced. A vibrantly colored chalkboard lists food and drink options alongside the cafe’s core values: quality, sustainability, and direct trade. Tribal prints, framed photos, and baskets woven by Rwandan women adorn the walls. Near the restrooms, a community board has quick facts about Rwanda. Although the country is geographically the size of Vermont, its population of 10 million is about 16 times larger than that of the Green Mountain State, for example. The shop’s knowledge-based approach is strong, but not preachy. Its warm colors and personalized decor make it feel welcoming.
Vibe: People who patronize this location skew corporate, outfitted in professional and business casual attire. Half of them appear to come for meetings while a good number are buried in their laptops. Since most of the seating is centrally located, the space heats up as people settle in. The sound of baristas brewing and blending drinks, combined with upbeat music and escalating conversations, sometimes make for a distracting environment, but it’s an overall comfortable vibe.
Wired: WiFi is available and most seats have access to outlets.
Perks: There’s a sizable food and drink menu with dozens of coffee and espresso drinks, including seasonal specialities, plus smoothies, breakfast items, and paninis.