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.
Since opening their first location in 1996, Robeks' associates and franchise owners across the country have been passionate about the benefits of healthier eating, and what they can do to help guests maintain active and healthy lifestyles, all through portable smoothies. Customers can step up to the counter and order from a menu of fresh, premium ingredients in unique, made-to-order combinations. Robeks Premium Fruit Smoothies aims to create innovative ways to reach the daily recommended 9-13 servings of fruits and vegetables without compromising on flavor. Each Robeks Premium Fruit Smoothies location makes a concerted effort to support the neighborhood it resides in, through local organizations, such as Save the Children.
Chocolate has no limits at COCOVA, where the indulgent product is held in the same high regard as a fine wine or single-malt whiskey. It forms the basis of truffles and bars sourced from around the world, as well as drinking chocolate and baking chocolate. In each instance, it makes its way from bean to finished product through a carefully developed process that culminates in a treat for all five senses. COCOVA's chocolate boxes are the subject of interactive chocolate classes, and also serves as good gifts for people curious about the chocolate-making process. Guests can learn proper appraisal techniques and the industry lingo in a chocolate-tasting session or create their own dainties in a truffle-making workshop.
Sisters Frances and Ginger Park share a love of chocolate passed on from their mother, and that shared passion has been on display at Chocolate Chocolate for nearly 30 years. In their cozy sweets boutique, the pair collects an array of artisan confections, from imported Swiss Laderach chocolates to house-made truffles, that have earned accolades from The Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine, and other national outlets. Their DC Monument line—featured in the March 2012 issue of Food Network Magazine—showcases white, milk, and dark chocolate treats shaped like famous DC monuments so that customers can live out their fantasy of biting the Capitol Dome without the hassle of reverse-engineering a shrink ray.
Don’t let Bourbon Coffee’s boozy name fool you; the L Street coffee shop in Washington DC only serves cups of joe. But not just any old black sludge – Bourbon Coffee’s name comes from a special variety of Arabica coffee produced only in Rwanda, a fact that becomes clear the moment you step inside the comfortable café space. With plenty of seats, a small bakery selection and lots of spots for little handmade trinkets, Bourbon Coffee is an overt attempt to put the nation of Rwanda’s best food forward. Acting as a joint eatery and outreach program, the shop is filled with Rwandan artwork and bits of information on the nation’s growing coffee crop.
Hidden away about a mile from the White House in Blagden Alley, Back Alley Waffles is more than just a waffle house—it's also a gallery where proprietors Sherman Davis and Craig Nelsen showcase their original mosaics and oil paintings. As visitors admire the work on the walls, they fill up on orders from a simple menu with one selection—waffles glistening with melted butter and real maple syrup. Fruit smoothies, coffee, and chai tea balance out the solid sustenance.