Something’s Brewing in Blagden Alley

Most people’s instincts are to avoid alleys. At least in fiction and film, nothing good ever comes from taking a wrong turn into one.

But when it’s the opening of a new coffee shop in an old District alley way, you can’t keep me away.

Saturday morning I ventured into Blagden Alley in the historic Shaw neighborhood for a first taste of La Colombe. It’s a trailblazing coffee company from Philadelphia, with cafes also in New York, Chicago, and Seoul. They’ve recently been supplying coffee to some notable D.C. restaurants, and have finally opened an outpost here in the District.

La Colombe, D.C.'s newest coffee shop in historic Blagden Alley.
La Colombe, D.C.’s newest coffee shop in historic Blagden Alley.

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Capital Coffee

Anyone who knows me knows that my love of history is perhaps only matched by one other abiding past time – finding and drinking really good coffee.

Shaw's newest coffee shop, The Coffee Bar.
Shaw’s newest coffee shop, The Coffee Bar.

The District used to be a veritable desert for quality java, but the past few years has seen the birth of a serious coffee community in the nation’s capital.

And while I used to have to travel far to get my fix, now I have a number of great choices in my own backyard – the historic district of Shaw.

Yesterday morning I had the chance to visit the newest addition to the neighborhood with the soft opening of The Coffee Bar.

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Gateway to D.C.’s Chinatown

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year, from Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown…

I’m writing this blog from Chinatown Coffee Co., a gem of a coffee shop on H Street NW.

As we officially enter the Year of the Rabbit, I thought this would be a fitting day to write about the most visible symbol of the District’s historic Chinese neighborhood, the Friendship Archway.

DC Chinatown Friendship Arch
D.C.’s Chinatown Friendship Arch

Just a few blocks from where I’m sitting, it spans H Street NW at its intersection with 7th  St., which is considered the heart of Chinatown.

It was designed by Chinese-born local architect Alfred Liu and built by expert Chinese artisans from the Beijing Ancient Architecural Construction Corp.

The finished product melded Ming and Qing dynasty styles, boasting seven roofs, 700 tiles, and more than 280 dragons and other classical decorative features.

Measuring 75 feet across and towering about 50 feet above H Street, it’s supposed to be the largest, single-span archway in the world.

But the characters in the middle – which mean “Chinese District” – announce what is perhaps one of the country’s smallest Chinatowns.


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