mini review: Grace Street Coffee

see my Georgetown field report

As you work your way down Wisconsin Avenue toward the Potomac, just after crossing the C&O Canal there will be a narrow little one-way street on your right.  On that street you will find a small food hall hidden in an 80s era commercial townhouse. It’s not easy, but you should try to find your way there, because one of the stands in the hall is occupied by Grace Street Coffee.

One caution: don’t even think of driving to Grace Street, either the street or the coffee shop, for it requires going down to the river, taking a couple turns, inching up a steep street that takes a 90 degree turn, and then wistfully crawling past the cars that have already taken up the few parking spaces on this street.

In addition to the coffee stand, the space includes SUNdeVICH, a high end sandwich maker; an outlet of South Block, a local smoothie and juice chain; and Neopol Savory Smokery, the second outlet of a local purveyor of smoked fish. There’s also Chaia, a vegetarian taqueria, just across the narrow street.  There are a few different seating areas within the shared space, including a quiet outdoor patio.

As for Grace Street Coffee, the coffee bar is simple but roomy, done up mostly in black, which fits well as the overall space is filled with light, the walls and ceilings are painted white, and the wooden floor is a light color.

The biggest eye catcher is the coffee machine, made by Kees Van Der Westen, a custom builder in Amsterdam. This one is the Spirit model and it is an absolute beauty, all black, with a series of levers and gauges which make it look like something from a cross between a classic hot rod and a Jetsons space ship. Even the wooden handles of the portafillers are beautifully made. The barista told me he enjoys using the machine, and that the builder is very good at after-sale service.

Grace Street roasts its own beans on site, in a small roaster next to the coffee bar.  According to the barista, they will open a second outlet in the near future in the 14th Street corridor, which will have more room for roasting.  Grace Street will also soon launch a collaborative effort with South Block, serving coffee and juice, in Arlington, VA’s Clarendon neighborhood.

The coffee was exceptional, very well made. The taste started out with some fruit notes, and had a very dry, mouth-puckering finish. Didn’t seem very strong at first, but packed a punch through the aftertaste. Consider me a fan.

There’s a very limited selection of baked goods, but the other outlets have you well covered for eating options. On my visit I had a salad with smoked trout at Neopol that was fantastic.

I’m definitely coming back to Grace Street, just as soon as I can figure out how best to get there.

Grace Street Coffee
3210 Grace Street, NW
Washington, DC
http://www.gracestcoffee.com/

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