Halftime Leisure

Coffee Chat: Compass Coffee

October 7, 2019

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 caw281@georgetown.edu. D.C. is a beacon of great joe, as the experts call it.


So here’s the thing, Compass was not supposed to be my next stop. I had great plans for a Sunday morning study break at a cute place on P Street (to come) but to give you an idea of why that didn’t work out, coffee is the only adult beverage I will be consuming for the next few months. Or life. Good news is that there is a plentiful assortment of coffee shops right off of campus perfect for a morning meet up before class. This is Compass Coffee. 

Coffee:  4 beans out of 5 beans

Compass is a place for coffee lovers. There are so many blends, an abundance of Nitro taps, and bags upon bags of beans for sale all over the place. It makes me happy. So my order…I got an iced coffee. I know guys, I know I said I would be different, so I put almond milk in it! FREE almond milk! So many props for having free dairy-free options. I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this yet because typically it is one of the top five things people learn about me, but I am very proud to live a  dairy-free life. Do the lack of lattes make a little more sense now? Anyway, a personal favorite of the drip coffee blends from a prior experience is the Azimuth. So dark, so smoky, so good. One thing that was pointed out to me—if you are of the sort who likes coffee shops, but doesn’t like coffee— Compass probably shouldn’t be first on your list. While Compass serves overall excellent, really coffee-centric coffee, it can get a little confusing because not all the blends are available all the time. Pay attention to the daily features. I would say that the coffee-centric atmosphere could be viewed as being coffee elitist. If you like coffee just because coffee, you might find yourself saying I DoN’t cARe ABOuT tHE dIfferenCe BEtweEN tHE WayPOINT anD THe EAstING JUST GIVE ME THE BEAN JUICE. 

Food:  3 muffins out of 5 muffins

After Kristina’s this menu was quite the change! In terms of actual adult (non pastry) breakfast options they had an arrangement of boxes and premade sandwiches that might look familiar, a-la Midnight Mug (Compass supplies the Corp). I got myself a chocolate croissant—the chocolate croissant I deserved from last week and never got. Flaky, perfect, rich. So freaking delicious. There was a limited variety of fresh baked goods, but the one I chose was everything I wanted. Compass is a COFFEE shop. They focus on the coffee, and although it might not be an extensive menu, I think what they offer is enough. 

Ambiance: 4.7 twinkle lights out of 5 twinkle lights

This place is so! Freaking! Big! And so! Freaking! Beautiful! You can fill in your own choice of words here. My mom wants to send this one to my grandma :). Walking into the back half of Compass is like walking into the coffee shop they better have in heaven. There is a perfect mix of lounge chairs and couches, community tables and personal tables, hightops and coffee (is this a pun? No but it feels like one because coffee!) tables. It is light and open with bunches of real greenery. Honestly, I love the industrial exposed brick, lots-o-glass vibe, which I know makes me basic and I don’t care. (As said in this sweet innocent quote from Rachel:* “It makes the world feel less bad.”) Compass has a community library—how cute is that. The walls themselves feature this gorgeous lil’ world map detailing where the coffee is from. We stan citing sources aesthetically. Also, of course they have a gorgeous secret-garden vibe courtyard in the back with a lil’ fountain. Another one of the reasons I was so into this place is that they get their music right! A perfect balance of slightly emo indie coffee shop jams at a manageable volume. Speaking of volume, the only reason I didn’t bestow my first 5 (other than being scared to commit myself in general to such a big moment) was that even at 8:45 a.m. on a Wednesday (which upon reflection I guess is the time that normal, non-college people would get coffee) it got really noisy. Which kind of made me feel better about myself, no place can be perfect, right? 

Location: 4.7 maps out of 5 maps

Literally the only reason this does not get full points is because I have to save some redeeming factor for the Corp locations. This location is incredible. It is a 5-7 minute walk from campus and you literally cannot miss it, think vertical neon “Georgetown” sign on Wisconsin that indicates its prior life as a theater. If you don’t know where that is, I cannot help you. Please crawl out from under your rock. The former Georgetown theater is a vital part of the Georgetown landscape, and I get the feeling that Compass will be too. If you need a study place or a study break, I highly recommend. 

Overall Experience: 3 hearts out of 5 hearts

Even though it’s tough to get myself there, my best days are the ones I start early. Not like 5:30 a.m. early, which is when this place OPENS by the way. That should be illegal. I mean like 8 a.m. early when my first class isn’t even until noon. My trip to Compass was one such morning, and with the incredible ambiance and environment that screams “COFFEE” I fully enjoyed my time. If I hadn’t devoted myself to seeing all the coffee shops in the world already, I would want this place to be my place. 

Total 19.4/25

Rachel at Compass Coffee

*So last year I was lucky enough to live on Harbin 9, aka the Ninery (#924forlyfe). The Ninery brought me many great things in life including 3 of my 4 current roommates and this girl right here, Rachel. Rachel lived next door to me, and is one of the most passionate people I have ever met, especially about history. Unfortunately we didn’t meet at 12:15 (Magna Carta time), but we did bond over our love for warm caffeinated drinks (she is a tea girl) and flavored croissants (she is a savory girl). For this week’s thoughts on friendship, Rachel says the most important thing about a good friend is listening. No one, at college and beyond, will ever have exactly the same interests as you, but a good friend is someone who will listen to you geek out about the things you love even if they don’t really care about them. Anyway, invite your neighbors for coffee sometime, you never know where friendship can bloom.

Katie Woodhouse
Katie Woodhouse is a junior in the college studying psychology, chemistry, and music. Her great loves are cooking, baking, and her fish Edward Cullen. Her very realistic life goals include becoming a low key reality TV star and spending her winnings on a petite cafe/wine bar in the outskirts of Paris. Come to her with thoughts on food, the Midwest, British television, and prospective donations towards the aforementioned ventures.

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I love your column! So informative and helpful!