where to find it

last updated 1/20/23

Whenever I travel somewhere, I always google best coffee in <city name>. That and word of mouth are how I’ve found a lot of these places.

Here’s a list of Matty-approved coffee shops. I’ll keep this list pinned to the top of the blog and update it as I visit new places (or remember places I may have forgotten).

If I learn a shop closes I will remove it from the list. But please check ahead before you visit to ensure your destination still exists, given the vagaries of a low-margin business.


Continue reading where to find it

that didn’t last very long

The excitement over last summer’s debut of Tigerella’s coffee shop in DC’s Western Market is now officially extinguished, as it is permanently closed.

The coffee side of the business closed in December, with a sign in the window announcing a holiday break with a January reopen. I was in Western Market today and the space is now bare, except for a few fixtures; a bagel shop will soon take its place. Tigerella’s restaurant is still open, but its only coffee option is French press.

Coming soon after the closing of beloved Little Red Fox, which is ceding its space to a different local bagel chain (one which, IMO, is very overrated), this ain’t good. Let’s please wrap our finest DC independent coffee stalwarts like The Coffee Bar in bubble wrap and keep them as safe as possible.

photo of person standing in between trees
my current vibe
(photo by Min An on Pexels.com
)

P.S. Sorry not to post part II of the Florida travel piece yet, it’ll be up soonish

well that’s a first

My drink of choice is a bit of a bastardization of a standard beverage, so it’s not unusual to find myself in a detailed conversation with the person at the register and/or the barista of what it is I’m looking for. How that plays out is often a good clue of where to set my expectations on a first-time visit to a cafe.

Sometimes the drink I end up with shows that I probably wasn’t clear enough. Phrases like “traditional macchiato,” “a little bit of milk,” and “not too much foam” can mean very different things to different people.

Today I visited a cafe I’ve been to before, and my request for a “macchiato with an extra double shot” didn’t phase the barista.

I was given something that I haven’t ended up with before:

bottom to top: macchiato; ‘extra’ double shot of espresso

Surprises in the Sunshine State

photo: Pexels/MGN

In the past few months I’ve made a couple trips to Florida, and been pleasantly surprised to find some terrific coffee shops. Here’s my report.

PART ONE: ST AUGUSTINE & JACKSONVILLE

On this trip, four coffee shops visited, and each one earned the Coveted Asterisk of Quality.TM

I flew to Jacksonville’s airport for a weekend mini-reunion with some college friends in nearby St. Augustine, America’s oldest city. I had an early departure so my first stop after getting the rental car was for coffee. I had very low expectations for Jacksonville itself, as it’s always reputed to be boring and bland, but I was glad to find myself in the Five Points neighborhood at BREW Five Points. Great coffee, friendly people, and on a cool street with what looked to be a lot of cool and quirky restaurants, bars, and shops. I managed to resist these treasures in the window of the antique & junk shop next door.

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The Matty Macchiato 5th Annual Holiday Gift Guide – Part II

photo: iStock/Svetlana_nsk, via The Wirecutter/NY Times

Part I of this year’s guide focused on branded swag. Today we’ll try for most everything else.


Here are suggestions on what to get for the person who……..

Wants to make better coffee at home, by any method

I could wax poetically about coffee demigod James Hoffmann and his new book, How to Make the Best Coffee at Home, ($19.99 – available from all major book retailers, though it would be nice of you to support your local independent bookstore), but better to let the man himself tell you all about it.

If you are interested in coffee at all, Hoffmann’s YouTube channel is an absolute treasure ($FREE).

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The Matty Macchiato 5th Annual Holiday Gift Guide: Part I

So two weeks before Christmas may be a little late to be much help. Remember, if something doesn’t arrive in time you can always print a picture and let them know their present is on the way! Or start normalizing New Year’s gifts.

If for some reason you’d prefer well-written professional writing and images – can’t imagine why – many quality coffee roasters have added holiday gift guides to their websites. You should also check out Counter Culture Coffee’s staff recommendations page for recommendations on the best gear for making great coffee at home.

Many of these are repeats from past guides, but I’ve tried as much as possible to find new/different/improved versions. Okay, let’s go.

Swag ’em up
Everybody loves swag, whether it represents their favorite sports team, beer, or coffee roaster/café. Our beloved Little Red Fox tee is no longer available, but here are some awesome pieces of branded merch from coffee world.

Tees
Verve Coffee Roasters Fuego Pocket Tee, regularly $25, currently on sale for $13(!)
The mullet of coffee tees: all business in the front and all party in the back.

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Some DC coffee news

Great to see that DC multi-roaster The Coffee Bar reopened its 17th Street NW location. While TCB’s Shaw home base stayed open for the duration, the 17th Street shop closed for a significant stretch during the pandemic. The shop resumed operation in October, and hasn’t skipped a beat.

This nugget of wisdom was recently on their sidewalk chalkboard:

While that’s a wonderful development, there is also some very unfortunate DC coffee news.

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the Salt & Pepper Diner Essential Songs o’ the Day for 8/19

I remain deeply ensconced in a ’90s alternapop rabbit hole and I’m loving it. Couldn’t choose just one song to go with today, so we’re getting two bangers. You’re welcome!

First up, I’ll admit this one’s a bit repetitive. And the video doesn’t do much for me. But given this whole conceit is based on a bit about playing the same song 21 times in a row, we’ll forgive its flaws and just listen joyfully without watching the video.

Way back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, I saw They Might Be Giants in a smallish venue on their first full-band tour (they were awesome – I mean, just look at that set list). The opening act was Frank Black, who strolled out by himself with an acoustic guitar and just laid down some great songs. The curse of the opening slot, no one seemed to notice that the front man of the freaking Pixies (!) was slaying it. Damn. This beauty was one of the ones he played. It might not be everyone’s taste but I like the goofy video, too. Enjoy.