A Welcome Addition to the Neighborhood: Filter Coffeehouse & Espresso Bar

27 Mar

What a week it’s been!  I went to the Palace of Wonders and Taylor Gourmet yesterday evening, both awesome in their own right.  Needless to say, I had a late night.  I’m currently at work here in the Lexis/Westlaw print room.  It’s nice and cool in here; the lights are off.  It’s a pleasant Saturday afternoon outside, on the colder side of cool.  I just polished off a Chipotle burrito and McDonald’s french fries with the help of a McDonald’s iced coffee.  (Whew!)   I’m also listening to the Broken Bells’s new self-titled album.

The Broken Bells are a collaboration between Danger Mouse and James Mercer of the Shins.  Their music features electric beats, disaffected vocals, and atmospheric guitar–basically, hipster music.  Music hipsters could like.

You know what else hipsters like?  Artisanal coffee.

Hipsters might tend to congregate on U Street or, if they’re truly hip enough, in Brooklyn, but they might consider coming to Filter Coffeehouse & Espresso Bar, a cool new coffee shop that opened up about two weeks ago in North Dupont on 20th and S Street NW.  It’s in the basement of a rowhouse, as pictured below:

Inside it’s a small rectangular space with a few tables and chairs (according to the proprietor, they will put out tables and chairs once the weather turns consistently warm).  It’s not really the best place to, say, study for a few hours, but it’s definitely good to come and grab a great cup of coffee.

Speaking of which, the coffee is fantastic.  I dropped by last Saturday with my law school friend and fellow wine connoisseur Giri.  We were taking a break from the wine tasting at Ansonia Wines and also waiting for two of our friends to join us.  I had heard about Filter a while ago and had wanted to try it, so this was the perfect opportunity.

The location itself is immediately inviting.  It feels like you’re going into someone’s home, which I don’t know about you but makes me want to drink coffee.  Once you go inside there’s a bar to your left and tables/chairs to your right.  The bar has a glass display case, some ceramic single brew filters, burr grinders, and an espresso machine.

Giri and I ordered cups of coffee to go: I ordered the Kenya AA.  I forget where they source their beans (I’ll update the post once I find out).  It was delicious and unique.  I wouldn’t characterize it as floral or fruity, nor chocolately.  It was dry, woody, and finished on notes of black tea.  It was also light-bodied and good though subdued acidity.

We ended up chatting with the proprietor, Rasheed, who knows his coffee.  In fact, he was so enthusiastic about coffee that he insisted we try some of his Sumatra.  Sumatra is one of those regions that a coffee lover should love but about which I personally have had mixed feelings.  Sumatran coffee growers often “wet process” their beans, which means they ferment the freshly-pulped beans for about a day or so before drying and washing, which often imparts a mushroomy taste that I don’t quite like.  As a whole–and this characterization varies widely depending on the exact method of processing as well as the producer and region–Sumatran coffees are full-bodied, deep, and earthy, with that mushroom quality I mentioned previously.

Filter’s Sumatra, on the other hand, smells like an Ethiopian Sidamo: just full of berries–strawberry, blueberry.  Rasheed ground some beans, made a batch, and poured us each a taste in ceramic.  Good, bright acidity, but with an intriguing vegetal finish.  Rasheed thought it was like rhubarb.  I agreed, but I also thought I detected alfalfa.  Altogether great, and an excellent present for that coffee aficionado in your life.

I didn’t get to try the cappuccinos or any of their espresso-based beverages, nor did I try their iced coffee (which is cold-brewed).  However, Filter is serious about their coffee: Rasheed participated in the U.S. Barista Championships and if I remember correctly will be sending one of his baristas to the next one.  I highly recommend Filter, and I urge you to check it out very soon.


3 Responses to “A Welcome Addition to the Neighborhood: Filter Coffeehouse & Espresso Bar”

  1. Kate March 29, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    Broken Bells formed the basis of my study playlist for my last brief.

    I am excited to try Filter!

  2. Kate March 29, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    Ok, just went to Filter. The barista (& I suspect owner) asked me to give you his thanks for sending me that way.

    A very charming gentleman, he was.

    This place gets a high notch on the hipster rank: they serve flat whites. I have seen this in the hipster-hub of Williamsburg, Brooklyn & in trendy parts of London. Flat whites (which Tryst & Open City would term a cortado) are an Aussie thing. They are more espresso and less milk, so taking what it good about a latte and skipping some of the moo.

    I would recommend Filter now too. They have all the energy of being a new indie coffee place, so they take their coffee very seriously at the moment.

    Good rec.

    • vinicultured March 29, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

      Sweet! Rasheed struck me as a very dedicated, personable, and knowledgeable dude. I think the shop will do well!

      I haven’t had a flat white before. I will definitely try it out next time, especially since I haven’t yet had their espresso.

      (And Broken Bells is great. Do you like the National, by any chance? They’re originally from Ohio but are now Brooklyn based. They’re releasing a new album May 11th, but their previous album, Boxer, is simply outstanding!)

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