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Sep 6, 2008 03:11 PM

The BEST coffee and/or espresso inside the beltway?

So, let's just say I used to live somewhere with really, really good coffee. I returned there recently for about a week and was reminded how much of a difference the Clover makes on regular coffee - and how much a great roaster and barista can affect a cup of espresso.

I live pretty close to Murky Coffee, which is good. The espressos are solid, if a bit inconsistent. Are there any comparable or better Metro-accessible coffee spots around DC? Does anyone around here use a Clover to make coffee?

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  1. Don't be angry, Sam. Caffe Pronto in Annapolis has a Clover. Local specialty roasters with a highly rated espresso on a LM FB80. The Clover is at the store in Festival at Riva shopping center; there is also a cafe in the roasting plant just off West Street.

    There is also a Clover in Alexandria at Grape & Bean. That's it for Clover in the DC market.

    1 Reply
    1. re: VinnyI

      Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'm heading down to Grape & Bean tomorrow.

    2. It's not inside the beltway, but… Caffé Pronto at Festival at Riva in Annapolis has a clover. I've been enjoying their Ethiopa Sidamo a la Clover lately.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Treva

        Murky Coffee in Clarendon...just don't ask for an espresso over ice!

      2. Asking for the BEST coffee is like asking for the best pizza, or chili, or BBQ brisket (or going on to a sports forum and asking about the best running shoes). The thing that seems to best define "best" is consistency from visit to visit. If a place has learned to make coffee consistently no matter when you come in and who serves you, you can tell whether you like it or not. If you get a cup you don't care for on your first visit and don't like it, you probably won't come back - if the shop is inconsistent, you won't know if you made the correct decision or not.

        Murky is about as consistent as places go in the area. The owner is really dedicated to his concept of coffee and tries hard to teach his employees his philosophy and techniques - but they're all individuals. A lot of people in that general neighborhood who like to hang out where there's decent coffee prefer Java Shack over Murky. It's on a side street a half a block from Wilson Boulevard between Clarendon and Court House. I can't remember the street, but you can see it from Wilson Blvd when going from Clarendon to Court House. Address at

        Do you have a Clover? You made me look! Pretty cool. I see there's a distributor over in Annapolis, but I'm afraid to ask how much one costs. I see that Clover is now a Starbucks company. Is this the automatic espresso maker that Starbucks stores use now?

        2 Replies
        1. re: MikeR

          I will echo the Java Shack recommendation. Excellent iced americano!

          1. re: MikeR

            The Clover is used for making regular coffee as flavorful as it really should be. The problem with Starbucks owning the company is you can't extract flavor from beans that have had all of their sugars and oils burned out of them. Anyhow, If I had a Clover, I'd never buy coffee from a coffee shop again. In fact, I'd be in danger of never leaving the house.

            Thanks for the Java Shack recommendation! I'll check it out.


          2. The Big Bear Cafe DC is great and it's locate on 1st and R off of Florida Ave, right between the hwy 50 and 395 in NW DC (AKA Bloomingdale) near the XM Satellite Radio office. The coffee is French Press and the espresso is great. They use the same beans as Murky, the beans that pretty much every decent cup in the area is brewed from. Said beans come from Counter Culture Coffee.


            1. In Old Town Alexandria, not far from King St Metro, there's Grape & Bean (good selecton of beans + a Clover) and Misha's (comparable to Murky, though it's pro-smoking which for me means it's a carry-out-only place).

              5 Replies
              1. re: sweth

                My hubby and I had a blow-out kind of day! We went to Ray's Hell Burgers in Arlington and also Grape & Bean and Lavender Moon Cupcakes, both in Old Town Alexandria, much closer to the water than the King St. Metro, although they do have that trolley.

                Grape & Bean has lovely coffee, both espressos, etc., made with a Clover and available in bean form. Also various chocolates, a small but excellent wine selection, and bread. Basically my 4 food groups!

                1. re: Transplanted Texan

                  Peregrine Espresso opened recently on Capitol Hill in the former location of Murky Coffee.

                  1. re: Beto_pan

                    Anyone been to Peregrine yet who can report back on what it's like?

                    1. re: sweth

                      I thought the espresso was very good (and they did a perfect machiatto). My friend had an individual drip coffee which was also good. It's already pretty popular.

                      1. re: sweth

                        Yeah, they're awesome! The baristas are award winning, literally. Couple of guys went to a national competition and picked up medals and runner-up status. Thumbs up one of my favorites. Also Filter in Dupont. On 20th between R and S. Orange sign on the lower level. Great little place and they make their own Chai. Great ppl too. Super cool and friendly.