Best Coffee Shop

Chinatown Coffee Co.
475 H St. NW; (202) 559-7656
Chinatown Coffee has a hardware aesthetic: exposed brick walls, cement floors, and an espresso machine (the La Marzocco GB/5) that looks like a steam engine. But Chinatown’s prized gourmet coffees come out of a dinky plastic thing: the Clever Coffee Dripper. “We were certainly skeptical,” Chinatown GM Alex Mason says of the plastic filter cone that perches atop a cup to brew each individual coffee. The drippers “don’t look as nice as the porcelain or glass manual pour-over methods,” he says. But the Clever edged out the alternatives on the consistency front. “We started off this summer tasting the hand-pour coffees that brew straight through,” Mason says, but the resulting brew “lacked a certain body we were looking for.” The classic French press provided a little too much body—and it tends to leave “some sediment at the bottom of the cup.” With the Clever drippers—and the help of a scale—“we are able to be very consistent with the ratio of water to coffee and precise with timing and turbulence of the pour,” Mason says. Showing off comes later. The drippers “also allow our baristas’ knowledge to shine,” the GM says, as each individual brew gives Chinatown employees time to talk up the Intelligentsia coffees they sell.

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