Surprises in the Sunshine State, part II

Siesta Key Beach

Following up on a not-so recent post (sorry I’ve not been diligent lately about posting) about a trip to the Jacksonville/Saint Augustine area, here’s a report on another trip, this one with my family over the holidays to Sarasota. The trip included catching up with old friends, a day trip up to St. Pete, interesting museums, beach time, and, of course, lots of coffee.

Let’s start with the non-coffee stuff, shall we?

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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

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

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.


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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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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finally, outstanding coffee near work

Since my friend Sami no longer has his coffee cart parked around the corner, I’ve continued to search for a terrific cup of coffee within an easy stroll of work. And now I’ve got one.

Tigerella, a new restaurant/café from DC’s Elle restaurant, has opened at the Western Market building on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. I haven’t been to Elle as getting a reservation is next to impossible, and I haven’t been in the neighborhood during the day to visit the coffee window.

When Western Market first started its renovation I had my fingers crossed that we’d get decent coffee there, and I’ve been waiting hopefully ever since it was announced that Elle was taking a spot. Tigerella finally opened the coffee shop part of the operation this week, and the wait was definitely worth it.

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well I for one….

….do NOT welcome our new robot overlords.

I got to San Francisco’s airport early this morning, and after passing through security I saw a reflection in a nearby window of the word CAFE. Wandered over to see a small coffee kiosk, but on closer inspection it was a Café X, ‘manned’ by a robot. Ugh.

I was going to bypass it on principle alone, but I felt an almost journalistic imperative to try it, and was made to feel slightly better after using the QR code to open the menu, where I saw the beans were from Intelligentsia. So I gave it a chance.

Verdict: you will love this if you have the patience for a very fiddly website that makes the payment process painful, enjoy watching a robot wave at you and dance around instead of just giving you your coffee, and/or like a completely watered down, neutered, tasteless coffee. Otherwise, give it a hard pass and find an actual human being making your drink on an espresso machine instead of a pile of wires and bolts grabbing you a sadness cup out of a basic fully automatic coffee maker. What a waste of good beans.

And tell those kids to get off my lawn.

blech. I tried it, so you won’t have to

that back there is your very basic fully automatic industrial coffee maker

don’t do it, mister…. save yourself!

That reminds me, I need to give the folks at Old Glory Insurance a call to update my policy.