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 firstname.lastname@example.org. DC is a beacon of great joe, as the experts call it.
Yet again my original plans have been foiled by my own sloth and laze. I went home this weekend to the Circle City (aka Indy, 317-heaven, Naptown, or, ya know, Indianapolis), and was ready to try the much-hyped Coat Check Coffee at the Athenaeum downtown. Unfortunately, I had the post-wedding sleepies and a nostalgic high on the smells and sights of a simpler life, so I decided to return to a well-loved high school haunt of mine, Lulu’s Coffee and Bakehouse, with a pair of my closest friends*. Now, you (and my editors) might ask yourself, how on earth is this applicable to a Georgetown University paper. Your thoughts are heard and understood, and I have no idea. However, I hope this does go to show the importance coffee shops can play in experiences and relationships. Think that’s a stretch? Well, if you ever find yourself searching for something, anything, to do when staying in Indy for whatever reason, it might be worth a stop. Due to the inevitable flat tire you will get from traversing the impressively pot-holed parking lot, you might end up staying a while.
Coffee: 4 beans out of 5 beans.
Lulu’s has a billion and one coffee options from a variety of local roasteries, all conveniently displayed in massive glass jars on the wall when you enter. When I bought a coffee (just a drip, to warm the soul. Apparently, some places it is 45 ℉ in early fall? What a foreign concept.) I actually got a mug and then a selection of coffees to choose from (self-dispense! What autonomy!) at their coffee bar. I went with a pumpkin spice roast. I rarely indulge in my favorite fall flavors through coffee because I hate any type of sugar or syrup in it (let the beans shine people!), but a flavored roast I can get behind. It was delicious, there are far too few pumpkin coffee roasts available in this world. The best part? $2.00. It is possible to get a reasonably sized coffee for $2.00. And you can refill it. For free. This exists! Lulu’s also has a lovely array of classic coffee drinks, teas, and kombuchas. Well done Lulu’s, you still got it.
Food: 4.95 muffins out of 5 muffins.
Lulu’s lives up to its name as a bakehouse. It is THE bakehouse. I’m scared to admit the amount of times I left school to get a Roasted Vegetable Salad with turkey, balsamic, and the best fucking croutons I have ever eaten, or the amount of times I drowned my sorrows post-AP calc test in a sweet loaf, cookie, or massive piece of coconut cream pie, OR the amount of times I’ve chosen from the endless list of slammin’ breakfast sandwiches ($3.50 TOPS I shit you not) when there to study or meet up with a friend. On this trip, I ordered the one thing on Lulu’s menu that I can never, ever turn down: zucchini bread with chocolate chips. Between this and the blueberry butter cake (you read that right), I could die happy. Not only do both have fruits/vegetables in them and are therefore innately healthy, but they are buttery and crumbly and perfect and delicious. Especially when dipped in (pumpkin) coffee. Honestly the best thing about Lulu’s menu it is that even though all of their stuff is fucking fantastic, you can tell that it was made that morning in the kitchen right out of sight of the ordering counter. It tastes homemade and delicious, nothing overly fancy regardless of the maturity of their menu. Do I want to give it a 5? Yes, but for the sake of my audience, who tragically will likely never try anything on this menu, I will save that for another day.
Ambiance: 2 decorative tiles out of 5 decorative tiles.
As much as I enjoy Lulu’s, I definitely would not peg it for the top-notch coffee shop that it is based on its appearance. To start, it is in a kind of junky looking stripmall, squeezed in between a Lifetime Fitness and a Greek restaurant. Other odd things (the pigmented teal wall color is a bit…aggressive) definitely do not give off chill coffee shop vibes. They do have the classic halfway-hipster fake flowers and a chalkboard wall going for them, but this is not enough. A weird observation: he table size options are odd for the space. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it’s noticeable enough that the whole small cafe feels awkward. In terms of studiability, I can attest that studying can happen at Lulu’s. It may not be likely to happen, especially if you have a bunch of equally distracted friends bent over the weird-ass circular table that is at least 4.5 feet in diameter yet can somehow only seat six, but it can be done. Outside, I believe in an *artsy* move, someone has thrown an old, broken down espresso machine. Yikes…All I need to say is that I don’t believe it achieves its desired purpose. There are a few outdoor tables as well, which is always my jam, but unfortunately they look like they were thrown out with the espresso machine and then run over by a truck or two.
Location: 0.6 maps out of 5 maps
Finally, the perfect 5! Haha, sorry but “relative to Georgetown” is just killing me on this one. There is a disproportionate number of Georgetown students around here because of the Jesu(l)it high school right down the street, so I’ll give it .05 of a point for every current Hoya that was once a Brebeuf Jesuit Brave.
Overall Experience: 3 hearts out of 5 hearts.
Before Georgetown, Lulu’s was my place. Is it fancy? No. Is the location great? No. In fact, it almost couldn’t be worse. But as a stressed AF senior in high school, often all I needed was a coffee, a baked good (or three), and a familiar place to escape. Actually, I wrote a few of my Georgetown application essays at one of those weird tables. I have many happy memories associated with these oily turquoise walls, and it makes me feel like I’m really home. I’ve yet to find my Lulu’s here at Georgetown, but one of the more selfish aspects of this column is that perhaps one of these weeks I will.
*It’s only fitting that this week I hit up a place that was significant to my youth, as my guests were my OG friends for life, my lil’ bishes, my “built-in besties,” as we like to call it. This is my sister Hannah and lil’ bro (even though he’s a foot taller than me) Will. Relationships with siblings are hard, and I don’t want to say that we are perfect in any way, because there is constant “bickering” and “nice” fighting, but these two are the best things in my life. It’s comforting that no matter what happens between us we will be in each other’s lives; later on there’s no way just one of us (or our paychecks) will survive taking care of our parents. On the friendship front, Will values a sense of humor (no wonder I’m his favorite person EVER) and Hannah thinks the hallmark of a good friend is someone you can be vulnerable with. As hard as it is to know someone so well that you see all of their flaws as well as their strengths, it’s even more rewarding. A helpful common ground—they love coffee just as much as me :).