Great Coffee Susan

Appreciating Great Coffee or Helping Fellow Coffee Lovers Keep Their Standards High

Gelato & Coffee

Yes, I did put “coffee” and “gelato” together in the title of this post.  If you cringed when you saw this, I completely understand.  Usually such places offering ice cream and coffee, frozen yogurt and coffee, cupcakes and coffee, XYZ and coffee don’t offer really good coffee and really good ice cream, really good frozen yogurt or really good XYZ.  Well, I am so excited to tell you I found a place that offers luxuriously delicious gelato AND amazing coffee.  It’s Dolcezza – a local treasure!

First the gelato.  The flavors are so creative and decadent.  My favorite is Valrhona Chocolate Amargo.  Other flavors are pretty good too:  Salted Caramel, Thai Coconut Curry.  You can check out all of Dolcezza’s flavors by selecting “stores” and then one of the three locations.

My husband and I knew about Dolcezza’s gelato shortly after we moved to D.C.  However, we didn’t realize this place serves great coffee until we actually looked for an alternative to Quartermaine’s.  (Dolcezza is just a block away from Quartermaine’s.)  I admit to being selfish and enjoying the fact that Quartermaine’s is always packed with folks but Dolcezza isn’t.  We rarely have to wait long for our coffees and lattes.  (Sometimes, though, we have to wait a little because the gelato is quite popular.)

Not everyone who works behind Dolcezza’s counters can make coffee and espresso drinks.  Before one can take on this duty, an employee has to go through extensive training.  Only after s/he passes a test which Dolcezza’s owners administer, themselves, can an employee take on the title, barista.

Dolcezza serves different roasters.  Right now its espresso beans are from PT’s Coffee Roasting.  For coffee it serves Madcap, Intelligentsia, Ritual & Counter Culture.  The Pour Over is the method of choice.

I’ve been to only two of the three Dolcezza locations so far.  I visit its Bethesda shop at least once a week.  It has more of an ice cream parlor feel. Lots of families stop by for a scoop of gelato or sweet pastry. And yes a handful of enlightened Bethesda residents visit for a cup of divine coffee or cappuccino.  The baristas are highly professional and pretty friendly.

Over the past week I checked out the Dupont Circle store which has more of a cafe atmosphere.  In fact the gelato is in the back; positioned almost as an afterthought.  A communal table is the centerpiece of the store.  The baristas here are also friendly but they seem to embody a hipster vibe which is appropriate for this location.  Based on two visits to this location I’ll go ahead and say it attracts a more diverse crowd (including tourists, diplomats, lobbyists, students and a couple of retirees) which shouldn’t be a surprise given its in the city.  (Bethesda is a suburban town.)  My absolute favorite thing about the Dupont Circle shop is it’s right next door to a Starbucks.  I asked one of the employees about this.  Without hesitation and in a very professional manner she said Starbucks really isn’t competition for them. Actually Starbucks helps Dolcezza.  The familiar big, green awning attracts people who are looking for coffee, but once they walk cross the street and approach Starbucks they see Dolcezza.  What a smart co-location strategy!

I realize telling you about Dolcezza is risky for me and my husband.  We may find ourselves having to wait a bit longer for our drinks as more people stop by for amazing coffee and espresso.  Sharing this little secret can be my good deed for the day.

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National Geographic: “How Coffee Changed America”

Here’s a wonderful illustration of the history of coffee in America.

Here’s the article related to the illustration.

An NPR story: “Drink Coffee? Off with Your Head!”

A delightful read!  You can read the story here.

“LA”MILL Mornings!

A couple of dear friends of mine gave me a pound of Panama Birdsong Honey from LAMILL Coffee for my birthday.  (Yes, I recently had a birthday.  No, I won’t disclose the date or my age.)  I love this gift for several reasons:

  1. LAMILL is based in Los Angeles.  These friends, who still reside in LA, know how much I miss LA.  (My husband and I lived in Santa Monica until about 18 months ago.)  In the mornings when I have a cup of this coffee I feel as though I’m enjoying a little bit of LA again.
  2. LAMILL will always be special to me because in 2008 I was allowed to tour its roasting facility.  (This was my very first facility tour.)  John, who gave me the tour and was the Director of Coffee at the time, was generous with his time and knowledge.
  3. The last time (which was before I moved away) I visited LAMILL’s Boutique, I found it doing an amazing job pairing coffee with food.  If you find yourself in LA, make your way to Silverlake to experience this for yourself.
  4. LAMILL strives to incorporate beautiful design into everything it does.  Again, visit its Silverlake boutique.  If you can’t make your way to LA soon, check out some of the photos here.
  5. The Panama Birdsong Honey (which is a Limited Lot) is a welcoming bean.  It has a light body roast so I’m not jerked awake but more like I’m being gently nudged to open my eyes.  I taste a hint of citrus, a light combination of brown sugar and honey with a woody undertone. The coffee leaves a smooth yet satisfying aftertaste.  What a delightful way to begin my workday!

To my friends who are responsible for my numerous wonderful LAMILL mornings, thank you!

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Coffee Talk

This past Monday on KQED, The Forum’s Scott Shafer spent 52 minutes discussing coffee with the owners of Blue Bottle Coffee, Ritual Coffee Roasters & Four Barrel Coffee. It’s worth checking out!

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