The best part of waking up is a Murky cup

January 31, 2008

You may be sipping on your daily caramel macchiato as you read this. Or perhaps you are more of a “Beloved” fan. Either way, why the extra flavoring? Can’t you handle the taste of real coffee? Would you prefer to drink straight sugar? I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say that it’s not you; it’s the coffee.

How can the nation’s capital lack decent coffee shops? Take a mental survey of the coffee shops around Georgetown: the Corp stores, Dean & Deluca, Saxby’s, Starbucks, the Bean Counter, perhaps Tryst if you’re adventurous and wander off campus. So many options, but they’re essentially all the same because all are mediocre, at best.

Why do all of these shops fail to offer their patrons a good cup of coffee or espresso? It all comes down to the beans. Many of the coffee shops listed above probably get their beans in bulk from faceless suppliers, and it’s impossible to know when the beans were actually roasted. The longer beans sit after being roasted, the more bitter they get, so coffee shops should brew them at most two weeks after their roast date. Many coffee shops, especially large franchises, probably overlook this fact, which is why the coffee you drink tastes horribly bitter. News flash—coffee should not taste that bitter! It actually possesses a naturally sweet flavor.

Fortunately, there is hope for finding true coffee flavor in D.C. After almost a year of coffee withdrawal—I come from Kansas City, where great cafés abound—I finally stumbled upon a seemingly unimpressive coffee shop in Eastern Market called Murky Coffee. From the moment I walked through the front door, I knew that I had found what I was looking for.

The little café was packed with people waiting in line for a superb cup of coffee, and the baristas had not had a break in the flow for hours (they made this known by jokingly suggesting that they “heard Dunkin Donuts had great coffee,” in hopes of getting a reprieve from the never-ending line of people.) Their joke was met with equal sarcasm from the line of people, who obviously don’t mess around when it comes to good coffee.

After one sip of Murky Coffee’s cappuccino, I was hooked. The espresso was sweet and smooth, a welcome improvement over the biting and bitter taste of so many espresso options near campus. Sadly, because of its location, I can’t go to Murky Coffee as often as I would like, and I was saddened to learn from their website that they used to have a (now-defunct) Georgetown location. The website also informed me that Murky was “totally committed to serving the people of Washington the best damn coffee there is. Yes, we said damn.” The trek to Eastern Market may be daunting, but for true coffee aficionados it is more than worth the journey to finally taste coffee as it was meant to be enjoyed in Washington.

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