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Feb 24, 2011 03:25 PM

Where to buy good coffee?

My fiance has decided he's going to start drinking coffee. He just finished the really nice bag of beans that Patowmack Farms gave us many months ago and is looking to source some good stuff.

I am strictly a tea drinker, so I'm pretty lost. Where does one buy good coffee in the DC area?

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  1. Mayorga is a good local brand. Safeway and Whole Foods both carry it, and because it is local, it is pretty fresh even from a grocery store.

    5 Replies
    1. re: iambecky

      Total Beverage also carries Mayorga at a better price than the grocery stores, and you can get some inexpensive utilitarian wines there too, as well as a few good ones if you know what you're looking for and they happen to have it.

      I keep wanting to like Beanetics in Annandale more since they're local to me and they roast in the shop. While it's pretty good, I haven't found anything exceptional, and so I've been sticking to a few varieties of Mayorga for my everyday coffee. Pick up a bag or two at a grocery store that's convenient for you, and if you like it, make a triip to Total Beverage and save some money (and buy some cheap wine).

      1. re: iambecky

        Yes. Mayorga is fresh and very good quality. Costco has 2 lb. bags for $12, which is a great deal. Peet's is also a favorite, but it's over $8 for less than a pound.

        1. re: flavrmeistr

          Although I haven't been there in a few years, you used to be able to go to their (Mayorga's) roasting plant on Southlawn Dr. in Rockville and get the beans really fresh. And by fresh, I mean they could tell you what day they were roasted (as in "Friday"). Back before they opened their separate retail outlets, they were a blast over there because you could actually talk to the roasters and, on occasion, the owner. I recall being shown around the plant while they explained the process to me, going so far as to open up sacks of raw beans for me to taste and smell the difference (and, to be honest, raw beans really don’t have much of either). That was a real education for me, so I still have a soft spot for them.
          My understanding is that beans are at their best between about three or four days and one month after roasting. Earlier than three or four days, they haven't yet settled down and are still exuding gasses, and after one month they are starting to lose flavor. But that’s not to say that I am that careful these days. The sad truth is that my Mr. Coffee doesn’t really get the water hot enough to get the most out of the grounds, so I too tend to get my beans at Costco. (Cooks’ Illustrated had an article on coffee makers last year, as I recall.) Having said that, the best coffee I have had in recent memory was from a couple of sacks of Kona Coffee that I picked up for $15/lb. at Costco in Hawaii last year at a conference. Man, that was smooth and good—worth all the hype. I only wish I had picked up a few more sacks.

          I might also suggest that you focus on the light roasts. You can really pick out the flavors and subtleties of the coffee. With dark roasts, all you taste is the roast (and you might as well be at Starbucks, which tends to over-roast, in my opinion). While great for espresso, that’s not really what I am looking for in my cuppa cuppa. Also, you might try using a French press. You can get some really great coffee out of those things.

          1. re: pgreen

            The Kona coffee you get in the Costcos in Hawaii can be hit or miss. I always load up an extra bag with as much as I can stuff in there, usually enough to sustain us for three or four months until I can get back for more. Always had good luck from the Honolulu location, where they actually roast it in the store. Very rich wine-y flavor that comes through even when made in our wheezing old Bunn. The load I got from the Maui Costco in December was utterly disappointing. We got 8 bags before getting on the plane. They turned out to be very dry and old. Caveat Emptor. The Mayorga, while not at the level of good fresh Kona, is the best I've found locally. Occasionally, I buy a sack of Swing's out of nostalgia, but it can also be hit or miss and is not usually as fresh as Mayorga. Probably because they store it in open bins and give it to you in a paper sack. It's better purchased by the cup.

        2. re: iambecky

          Thanks! We tried to find Mayorga at Safeway but ours didn't carry it. He ended up with Peets instead but we'll keep our eyes open for Mayorga.

          Thanks to everyone else, too - as he keeps drinking it, we'll branch out and try the places that you've recommended.

        3. Zekes! The store and roastery are in Baltimore but you can get them at alot of places in maryland.

          2 Replies
            1. re: girleatseverything


              Places to find them: Riverdale Park and Greenbelt farmer's markets. E-mail Zeke's and ask to be put on the Greenbelt distro list for winter delivery. They roast the day before they bring the coffee. Check the Greenbelt co-op for them as well. Also, pop into the gelato shop in Penn Quarter for their coffee.

            2. Myself I buy mail order from Peets-- they roast it the day after you order and send it out that day (takes maybe a week via UPS).

              Quartermaine's is also local, but I did not try enough of their coffees to find one I liked (tended to be very dark roast IIRC). I think Peregrine sells whole bean, so you might try there too.

                1. re: Teddybear

                  Second Swings. A great local roaster that's been around since 1916. Whole Foods also carries their whole beans.

                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                    I forgot about Swings! I was a regular buyer of their beans when they had a stall at Union Station. The Embassy Row blend was amazing. Then Union Station management started forcing out all the local shops and the old Swings kiosk is a Hertz Rent-a-Car :(

                2. Caffe Pronto in Annapolis has the best coffee I've ever had. I like their special collaborative blend w/ Restaurant Eve:


                  Restaurant Eve
                  110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

                  Caffe Pronto
                  2329 Forest Dr, Annapolis, MD 21401