mini-review: Colony Club

I ran out of beans for making coffee at home over the Thanksgiving holiday. The last batch I went through was the seasonal Otoño blend from Intelligentsia, a big, bold monster with tons of flavor that produced a lot of crema. This time I wanted to get something from Heart, a terrific roaster from Portland, OR, which has become my favorite.

Not a lot of shops in the DC area carry Heart’s beans, but I knew of one which I had been meaning to try out, Colony Club in the Park View neighborhood in Washington. I had stopped in once before, but if was just after 5pm, when they stop serving coffee for the day and switch over completely to being a bar.

I fought off the Black Friday Why-Oh-Why-Did-I-Eat-So-Much stupor and drove to Park View. It’s an interesting area, filling the pocket between Howard University’s campus and the Petworth neighborhood. You can definitely feel the gentrification taking place. Side streets with rows of beautiful row houses, while the main drag, Georgia Avenue, is a mix of blighted empty storefronts shuttered with pulldown steel security gates, medical diagnostic clinics, and food markets serving immigrant communities from Central America. But you also see new, high-end rental apartments, chic boutiques, and beer gardens and restaurants clearly targeting populations that not long ago were referred to as Yuppies and Hipsters.

Colony Club slots nicely into that last group. It’s in a long, narrow building, with a big casement window letting in the sunlight from Georgia Avenue. The predominant color is white, accented by light colored woods, with the occasional pop of color like the cobalt blue subway tiles behind the bar. The floor is cement, there’s a mix of furniture with lots of seating areas, and modern light fixtures. While I didn’t go up to look, there’s ping pong upstairs. One nice touch, much like I found earlier this year at Milwaukee’s Kickapoo Coffee, was the self-serve taps with still and sparkling water.

Out back is a big beer garden, shared with the adjoining psychedelic bar (No Kisses) and pizza place (Sonny’s), both owned by the same group as Colony Club. It’s very welcoming, and features a beautiful 1974 Citroën food truck that is used as a bar.

When I first walked in I almost thought I had stumbled into a library. The place was crowded, but every single customer was looking at their laptop and no one was talking. Eventually more social guests came in and the room took on a nice, cheerful hum.

There’s a limited food menu, with a nice little collection of baked treats. They feature sandwiches made in Sonny’s kitchen; a gorgeous tray of muffalettas was brought in as I was enjoying my coffee at the bar and left just out of my arm’s reach. They looked so good they were almost able to penetrate my Thanksgiving food coma. I resisted, perhaps for the best, but much to my regret.

“But it’s wafer-thin”

So, the coffee. (This is still a coffee blog….. right?) Fantastic. Expertly made, layers of flavor. Strong, bright, a touch bitter, a touch dry to the finish, all of which would have been too much on their own but blended together to make for a terrific cup.

had a sip before I remembered to take a pic – sorry, it’s been a while

And I’ve been very happy making coffee at home with the bag of Heart beans I picked up.

Colony Club
3118 Georgia Ave, NW, Washington, DC

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