Swing's caffeine artisans craft signature blends of globally sourced, locally roasted java that have garnered a bouquet of awards and accolades, including a spot on Zagat's Buzz-Worthy Coffee Options in DC list. Fill thirsty mugs with a craft-roasted blend such as the Diplomat ($14/lb.), a dark brew that deftly negotiates sweet notes of baking chocolate into bold sips that evoke sensory portraits of leather and pipe tobacco. The Nicaraguan Los Papales ($16/lb.) teems with vanilla and malt flavors, and the Espresso 90 ($14/lb.) jolts sleepy gray matter awake with a Northern Italian roast with notes of cherry, pomegranate, and “Reveille.”
Though people no longer have to cross continental boundaries to sample exotic flavors, the average spice rack still tends to lack diversity. At the Spice & Tea Exchange of Annapolis, a staff of flavor-seeking specialists stocks gourmet seasonings and spices, cooking herbs, sugars, and sea salts to expand their customers' cooking horizons. In addition to fresh herbs and flavorings, the team designs signature seasoning powders that infuse dishes with medleys of chili, savory hints of cheese, or the essence of smoke. They also carry an assortment of gourmet teas, which are good to keep around the house in case a local king decides to stop by.
We spoke with Caf? Berlin's owner Clytie Roberts-Glage?pictured here with her husband and co-owner Rico Glage?about German food, romance, and what makes her neighborhood restaurant so special.
On her favorite foods
Caf? Berlin's menu reflects a happy marriage of tradition and creativity. "We take a lot of German ingredients and German dishes, and tweak those to make them more fun," Roberts-Glage says. Here are some of her favorites:
Caf? Berlin rotates its beer selections regularly, which means beer lovers, including Clytie herself, can always try new German brews. "I love when we can get some more obscure German beers," she says. Here's one of her current favorites:
On meeting her husband at Caf? Berlin
"I was a customer here for a number of years," Clytie says. Then, she went to work for the restaurant's original owners, and the rest was fate. "When I started working here, that's when I met my husband." Rico Glage, who also worked at the cafe, had only been in the United States for three months when he met Clytie. The two started dating, got engaged, and were married?all while working at Caf? Berlin.
On buying the restaurant
"It was always the plan to have a restaurant." With a phone call, that plan was fulfilled. Upon retirement, Caf? Berlin's original owners called Clytie and Rico to ask if the wanted to buy the restaurant. They answered yes, and the two took over in 2013. It was a decision rooted in tradition. Clytie's parents had at one point owned four bars, a restaurant, and a catering business. Likewise, Rico's mother was a chef in Germany.
On what the restaurant means to the community
"It's a neighborhood tradition." Many customers have been coming ever since Caf? Berlin first opened its doors. That's not to say they haven't picked up some new faces over the years. Clytie notes that members of Congress and even former presidential candidates all eat at the restaurant. The restaurant is also a favorite stop for German tour buses, and is an ideal place to celebrate Oktoberfest.
On the decor
Clytie describes the restaurant's ambiance as "A German farmhouse with white linens." Indeed, Caf? Berlin?which occupies the ground floor of three joined townhouses?feels much like a friend's classy home. Shades of charcoal grey and khaki offset dark pine, while warm temperatures bring even more seating options, including a gorgeous outdoor patio.
To read more on Caf? Berlin and its owners, check out this article from the Capital Community News.
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Peregrine Espresso owners Ryan and Jill Jensen have kept Capitol Hill caffeinated since 2008. The name Peregrine––a Middle English term for a wandering pilgrim––is fitting since the duo draws from years of experience working as baristas around the country, studying at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and teaching latte art in Costa Rica. Guests can taste the fruits of those travels as they sip the café's cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas or their signature drip coffee, which is brewed in micro-batches to ensure each cup is fresh as a possible. In fact, Ryan and Jill are so passionate about serving people fresh coffee they also bicycle bags of newly roasted Counter Culture beans to their clients doorsteps, and include a full-page biography about the coffee's production, taste notes, and first childhood crush.
Located on Pennsylvania Avenue near Union Station and the Capitol itself, West Wing Café is a very large cafeteria with the façade of a European eatery. Billing itself as a gourmet delicatessen, the quick-fix restaurant is perfect for the lunch crowd, where paninis, salads and soups rule the day. Earlier options include special breakfast omelets or egg sandwiches, and the occasional sushi or other off-beat item is always worth an afternoon peek. For something sweet, customers can select from freshly boxed cakes or any one of packaged baked goods and candies on offer. With food in hand, patrons can nab a seat at one of the many straightforward cafeteria-style tables, or head back to the office to enjoy their meal.
To say Capital Teas? founders, Manelle and Peter Martino, know tea might be a bit of an understatement. Fifth-generation tea merchant Manelle?s great-great-grandfather, Francis Van Reyk, was a Dutch tea planter who immigrated in the 1870s to present-day Sri Lanka, where he planted and managed the Diyagama Tea Estate, from which the Martinos now source their Great Grandfather?s tea. Manelle?s family has been in the tea trade ever since, a tradition she has carried to her own specialty tea business, which has boutique locations throughout the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland area. Additionally, Peter has become a popular speaker at World Tea Expos, where he frequently educates and inspires the tea world.
In addition to tea from Sri Lanka, Capital Teas carries more than 200 loose teas and herbal infusions from 18 countries including India, China, Japan, Malawi, and Kenya. A sniffing wall dispenses wafts of black, oolong, and green teas, and knowledgeable employees drift around the store?s tasting stations to explain each flavor?s nuances.
Capital Teas also pairs customers with accompaniments such as teapots, infusers, treats, and artisanal honey. In-store patrons may sample free tea samples?which are brewed fresh daily?while online purchasers receive a free sample with every order.