Bar Review – Chinatown Coffee Company

I’ve explained my life to people as one perpetual dehydration/hydration cycle.  Drink too much coffee during the day, pound water, drink beer at night, pound water before bed, and back to coffee in the morning…

And then someone I must have explained this to told Chinatown Coffee Company (CCC) to get a liquor license and start selling bottles of craft beer.  So I’ve only got two wishes left on that magic lamp.

On the eastern side of Chinatown (5th & H), CCC was a great coffee shop from the day it opened about 15-18 months ago.  In addition to the great beans served up, the craftsmanship that goes into each cup of coffee here is incredible.  If you are willing to spring the $3-$4 for a cup of the “hand-poured” coffee here, you will soon realize you will have paid $6-$10 for it.  It makes every cup of coffee you taste elsewhere seem like instant coffee by comparison.

Then, about 5 or so months ago CCC started serving beer, wine, and absinthe.  They usually have about 6-8 beers available, with options chalked up on the board behind the counter, and bottles out for display.  The selection has generally been really solid.  There’s almost always a Great Lakes available (last week I snagged a coveted GL Christmas here), along with beers from Victory, Lagunitas, Founders, and the North Coast Rasputin has become a fixture there as well.  A quality selection, though lacking a bit in variety.  You aren’t going to find a Witbier here in the dead of winter.

The counter staff is friendly, courteous, and helpful throughout the day.  This is a coffee shop though, so it’s not the place to go and talk to a bartender about all your troubles.  They serve beers in bottles, and will offer you a glass, but don’t expect the appropriate tulip glass to accompany your beer; you will generally just be offered an 8 ounce tumbler.

The ambiance is generally good, but can really be hit or miss.  I love to head over here after work, grab a beer, and try to get work done some nights.  It can work for that, though sometimes the music (usually indie) rolling across the shop speakers can be a bit too loud to really concentrate.  The biggest drawback is the potential for business.  Half the time by6:30 there won’t be any tables available; it isn’t exactly a huge space.  But overall the atmosphere is really solid.  I’ve heard of a social ritual known as “dating” and if you were to go on one of these “dates” and wanted to convince the other person on the date that you were both sophisticated, laid-back, and still a bit of a snob, then this would probably be a solid bet.

Unlike many of DC’s great beer bars where bad beer orders (e.g., Corona Light) still come out too frequently, this watering hole is far more likely filled with people obsessed with proving to other people they don’t care what other people think.  Damn Hipsters.

Even with the hipsters, a great establishment



2 responses

  1. Pingback: World Beers Review » Bar Review – Chinatown Coffee Company « The J Street Beer Review

  2. DK

    I love CCC, but for fairness sake I have to mention that there are at least 3 other high-end coffeehouses in D.C. area that serve top-notch, high-end coffee. Check out this map for example:,-75.618896&spn=2.329843,5.081177&z=8

    December 16, 2010 at 7:04 pm

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