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.
I know what you are thinking. Is it fair to judge a doughnut shop as a coffee shop? In my defense, their official name is District Doughnut and Coffee—it’s on the sign! Also I wanted a doughnut, sue me. This doughnut shop is going to be judged on their coffee and they are going to enjoy it.
Coffee: 2 beans out of 5 beans
This iced cold brew had the unfortunate experience of being my 3rd cup of the day. She (the day) was a rough one. It (the coffee) was good! Strong, which I enjoyed, with the good Chick-fil-A ice that has the shape and texture of packing peanuts that somehow is the best ice in the world. One thing—they literally have drip coffee, iced coffee, and that’s it. This is odd, considering coffee is on the sign! I feel like to put coffee on the same level as doughnuts here, they have to add more to their options. A doughnut and a latte is just as good and can easily be better than a doughnut and a drip! Overall pretty good coffee, poor selection.
Food: 4.5 muffins out of 5 muffins.
Is there a bread-th (haha) of options here? No, there is one option (doughnuts) in multiple flavors. Although District Doughnut tries to claim coffee as its own, you are not coming here for coffee. Don’t just come here for coffee, please, it might be in the name but it’s only half of it. Doughnuts are a type of pastry that can be messed up. I’ve had doughnuts that could change your life, but I’ve also had subpar, oily excuses for fried goods in a doughnut shape.The doughnuts here? They’re good guys, they’re really good. I was immediately drawn to the fall flavors (Cranberry Crumble and Pumpkin Spice) but in the end I chose the Brown Butter on recommendation from the cashier. It was so delicious! Not overly sweet, incredibly fluffy and light, massive yet I didn’t feel like it was too much. My soulmate*, who accompanied me on this trip, got a Salted Dulce De Leche, and can I just say oh my good lord the fact that this is so close to campus and I have yet to try it is horrifying on multiple levels (first, wtf have I been doing with my life; second, there goes my money). Why no more money? Well these doughnuts are ~gourmet~, and hence are extremely overpriced, spanning from $2-$4.50 per donut. That is SO much, I feel like “cheap” is practically included in the definition of a doughnut. Is it just a Midwest thing that everyone’s “best doughnut I ever ate” was baked that morning by the elderly owner of an old strip mall shop who wakes up at 4 am every day to make doughnuts just like his beloved grandma did and the shop is named in her honor and he sells out every day by 11 am and people come from far and wide (especially after Sunday service) to buy dozens at a time because they are TOPS $1 and yada yada yada? Probably, but I see no reason to charge this much for doughnuts! Fancy or not they can clearly be done even better for less. Was my doughnut delicious? Yes. Would I come back and get another? Absolutely. Were they worth the price? Arguable!
Ambiance: 3 painted bricks out of 5 painted bricks
This shop is planned to a T. Exposed ceiling, white painted brick, pops of teal, branding, branding, branding, paintings on walls that all look the same in different colors. It is nothing if not cohesive. My qualms are with the tables. There is a single metal slat coming out of the wall with very few stools, and another metal slat against the other wall. There is some genius to this, as District is a popular place and to keep people moving, it is an absolute mood to make their seating as uncomfortable as possible. However, the issue is that although I get this place is not meant to be a study spot, which it definitely isn’t, it also is not much of a conversation or meet-up spot. I am a big proponent of locations providing space to sit down and enjoy their product, and I just don’t get the welcoming vibe here. Finally, for such a small place there seems to be some wasted space. If they wanted it, which they clearly don’t, they could easily fit some small coffee tables or 2-tops in the back that fit their aesthetic. All in all visually great ambiance, but not conducive for customers looking to stay a while.
Location: 4 maps out of 5 maps
District Doughnut is located in Cady’s (unfortunate spelling) Alley, which means that it is practically mine. Convenient, seeming as it is less than a 10 minute walk away, right across the street from the closest M Street Starbucks. All in all a fab location for students looking for a bright-and-early or midday sugar fix, but be warned that like every other time, you will absolutely want to die on the way back up 35th Street to the hilltop, so you might want to get a few extra doughnuts to reward yourself for conquering it.
Overall Experience: 3.5 hearts out of 5 hearts
This District Doughnut stop has been highly anticipated and planned by my guest* and I since this column began. What started as mutual encouragement that we could study on Sunday if we only put ourselves in a new environment turned into a sweet, delicious, perfect Sunday adventure, with as you probably guessed, heavy backpacks but zero textbooks. District, for all of its coffee flaws, has good cold brew, excellent baked goods, and an extremely cohesive ambiance. Although it really did not fit my needs today, I have every faith that it will fit all of my needs at some point in the future. Doughnuts and coffee are a classic combination (which I’ve got an inkling is the reason behind the sign) and I appreciate any place that brings joy to the soul by providing baked goods.
*This QT is none other than my soulmate Emma Noelle Huffman. Like the start of every good love story, we met on CHARMS. Since that fateful moment, we are now in our second year of sharing a California King. In my life Emma is one of those people you meet who have a profound impact on who you are. This trip (#roomiedate) we reflected on our lives before we met. We talked and laughed through stories of proms, Halloweens, and people the other will never know yet in a way understands, because at some point when our stories were woven the threads of our souls were intertwined (*dramatic mic drop*). What makes a good friend? According to Emma, a good friend is someone who loves you even when you are wrong. As you probably will decide after making your own judgments on these coffee shops, she must really be the best friend ever (also she doesn’t like coffee, and I love her SO much). I’ll close with a quote from the wall of Olivia Macaron (because sometimes a doughnut is not enough, and Fruity Pebbles macarons exist) – “in a cookie cutter world, be a macaron.” In other words, “in a pre-ground decaf world, be a whole bean hella caf organic roast,” and surround yourself with people who believe you can get there. #924forlyfe :).