Arguably the most important hallmark in an average undergrad’s life is a new, if not enhanced passion for coffee. Around October of freshman year, what was priorly bitter becomes heavenly. The occasional morning cup transforms into a 3-times-a-day lifeline for survival. Pretty soon you are looking up if anyone has patented cold brew IV drips, and have to run to the dining hall to use a full meal swipe for a single, probably shitty 16 oz, and perhaps a pastry to go, just to cope with the fact that medicine, unfortunately, has not advanced to that point. After a year of rationing your 14 meals a week to accommodate your 3 p.m. crash, you realize that beyond Georgetown’s gates is a magic meadow of potential to turn your survival-fueled passion into a conniseurhood.
I’m Katie Woodhouse, and I love coffee shops. The hipster ones that make you wait 15 minutes just to prove their authenticity, the cozy ones that I can study in for hours until I guilt-buy a muffin just to feel like I’m not wasting space, and even the ones on every corner that all sort of look the same inside yet each has a purposeful subtle identity. This year I have made it my goal to review the coffee shops in and within walking distance of Georgetown University on five criteria: coffee (I know, shocker), baked goods (perhaps my favorite category), ambiance (including studiability, which no, I don’t know if that is a word), location (relative to Georgetown), and finally overall experience. Think of it as the classic reality show Four Weddings, except with way more than four weddings, except there aren’t actually any weddings at all, weddings are a metaphor. For coffee shops. Got it?
Any recommendations for coffee shops? Want them yourself? Comment or email email@example.com. DC is a beacon of great joe, as the experts call it.
Kristina’s Cafe and Pastries
To kick off this entry I first want to blow your mind with a fact central to my coffee shop experience this week—there is a D.C. past Yates, and it is a fucking fairy tale. The gabled houses and quiet, winding streets of Foxhall give off what I can only describe as Snow White vibes, the kind where you can only expect a singing lady with a cloud of harmonious sparrows around her head to show up and enthusiastically sweep the street. Can you envision it? It is within that setting that I found my second stop, Kristina’s Cafe and Pastries.
Coffee: 4 beans out of 5 beans
So Kristina’s serves Illy coffee, which I expect to come across many a time in my travels, but I’m not complaining. I went for an iced coffee again—boring I know—but it was absolutely fantastic. Dark roast, deep smoky aftertaste, lovely caramel notes on the pallette…I said I’d work on my descriptiveness! It was $3.50 minimum for any drink on the menu, which is steep, but welcome to real life. I look forward to the day when I look at a coffee shop menu and my eyes don’t start to water as I calculate the amount of work hours I am putting towards this column every week, but I may have to wait until I’m back home again in Indiana (any Hoosiers see what I did there?). We may not have much, but we have Midwest prices. What else…honestly after SoHo I am a devotee of serving iced coffee in mugs. So although the disposable cup I got from Kristina’s is the norm and good for people on the run, mugged just makes more sense and is also more aesthetic! All in all excellent coffee.
Food: 3 muffins out of 5 muffins.
Okay so food: This one is interesting. Kristina’s menu is fucking huge. Like, entire chalkboard wall huge. It also all looks good and was so hard for me to choose from. There are plenty of diverse breakfast and lunch options including soups, sandwiches, salads, oatmeals, egg dishes, etc. But then we come to a section that I can just not get over—pizza and wings. I am sorry, but what the actual fuck. It’s just so weird!! No hate on pizza and wings, I am sure they are great here as they are in many places, but with Kristina’s vibe so clearly marketing itself as a coffee shop/cafe, it is dissonant. They are open until 7 p.m., so I guess it makes sense to offer dinner options, but the identity of the place is somewhat confusing. There is definitely something for everyone on this menu, but there is an appeal lost with that diversity. It really makes you think: What is this place and what are they trying to be? Cutting the melodrama, my SoCal wrap (egg, lettuce, tomato, cheese, chipotle sauce, spinach tortilla, and overall yum-ness) was good and almost worth the $8.50, and my lovely darling friend Anna’s* bagel was declared delicious. I was also pumped for the pastries, as promised by the name of the store. I went for a classic chocolate croissant, which was probably a mistake seeing that I am more of a muffin girl, and did kind of regret it. It was beautiful and had great lamination (I am a Great British Baking Show bish of the highest degree) but was kind of bland? And barely had any chocolate? Ahh it kind of made me sad, but I could be spoiled by the Corp’s admittedly really good (how?) croissants.
Ambiance: 3 tables out of 5 tables.
On a spectrum of coffee shop types, I would put Kristina’s Cafe and Pastries in between hipster joint and neighborhood dive, yet slightly leaning towards the latter. On the hipster side we have the chalkboard menu wall, white brick walls, and chunky reclaimed wood community table. On the neighborhood side we have the charming local paintings for sale on walls, twinkle lights, and overall homely vibe. I am abandoning my plans to be a better describer, but it feels a little “cheesy,” like it is trying too hard to tick all the boxes of what a coffee shop should look like, but I dig it on Kristina’s, she owns it. I feel bad for making this a “thing” but the soundscape was again soooo distracting, mainly because it was radio. In the spoiled world of student-priced Spotify I wasn’t used to hearing people speak in between songs…first world problems I know. What made Kristina’s great was its outside patio. Yes, I’m a sucker for patios. And dogs. There were SO many dogs and my life was made better watching them make friends with each other. It was truly a lovely little area. Also they passed out free dog treats to all the dogs. Extra points for considering the puppers.
Location: 4 maps out of 5 maps
This location is fantastic for Georgetown students. It really is like a 15 minute walk from campus tops. Also it is 15 percent off for all Hoyas and they take GoCard? What a win. I’m not telling you to reconsider your morning stop at Whisk on the Waterfront. But just so you know if you are looking for a good breakfast once in a while that doesn’t taste like half-cooked oats in warm Elmer’s glue there is an alternative option :).
Overall Experience: 2.5 hearts out of 5 hearts
I had to think long and hard about my overall experience here. Food? Good. Coffee? Excellent. Conversation*? Freaking fantastic. Seating? A superior outdoor patio with canine friends. Yet, I felt there was something missing. It could have been the subpar chocolate croissant, which did make me sad, or the fact that I had my first Organic Chemistry test on Monday, which I was frantically attempting and failing to study for while on the aforementioned outdoor patio. This makes me think: How do I eliminate the inevitable stress of college life from negatively impacting my poor, perfect (in their own right) coffee shops? Regardless of what I score them, I so appreciate their mission and existence. That being said, this is my column and bias is what you are getting. So, brought to you by the molecular model kit gods, my overall experience at Kristina’s is 2.5 hearts out of 5 hearts.
*This week I brought my lovely friend and fellow leisure writer Anna to chat over coffee with me. Anna is one of my day-one college friends, quite literally as we were in the same NSO group. Unfortunately, I didn’t talk to her because I was an insecure incoming freshman who thought she was too cool for me. Anna is from Florida and somehow studies Gov and Philosophy, both of which I would rather claw my eyes out than even think about. She is the future benefactor of a two-income, no-kid, NYC household and also the person who I want to hang out with when I don’t want to talk to anyone else. A few things about our friendship worth celebrating: Our place is Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle (shout out to our fabulous OA Fiona who first brought us there), our song is the ’70s classic “Dancing Queen” by ABBA, which becomes a whole other song when you are both with your people and completely trashed, and we bond over Indian food feasts and Pete Buttigieg. What makes a good friend? Anna says a good friend does whatever they can, big or small, to make your day better, which I can attest that Anna is excellent at. Moral of the story? Be the Anna to the people in your life, and some good things do come out of NSO. Peace, love, friendship!