East Coast Roadtrip – Washington, DC

Washington’s event was the first one in a Counter Culture training centre, and I was curious to see how it would be set up. We were due to cup at 10, but first we headed to a place called Tryst for a little breakfast and coffee (thank you David, for coffee and for suffering my request to make me whatever was good – sorry for being difficult!)

Cindy and animals

Cindy makes her animals fight for our entertainment

Anette thought the animal crackers were a nice touch and I realised I was drinking my first proper milk drink of the trip!

Then it was time to cup. The open cuppings at Counter Culture have a different approach to most cuppings I have been to. They tend to only cup three coffees, and the discussion afterwards is quite intense with a lot of descriptors going up on the white board.
I agreed with Aaron on my favourite coffee of the three – for me the new Peruvian Valle de Santuario microlot beat out the Rwandan coffee and the Idido Misty Valley on the table. Most people liked the Rwandan Nyakizu, and I can see why – very clean, high acidity (I thought) but still balanced. Amongst the cuppers was Greg Scace, and I confess to getting sidetracked talking about pressure and all things a bit nerdy.

Cupping in DC

Cupping in DC



At the end of the cupping Nick Cho and Trish arrived, but then were hustled out of the room along with everyone else so I could do a phone interview on NPR (which apparently is a big deal around here!) Having not said anything too stupid we headed out and everyone piled into cars and vans to get some lunch at Open City, before eating way, waaay too much gelato (and excellent gelato I might add) at Dulcezza. Rob, the owner showed us the production area and I loved this old bit of kit for making churros:

churro machine

Old machine for making Churros

Post gelato coffee and lounging around was provided by the Big Bear cafe, and the press of the Biloya there really hit the spot.

The presentation that evening was on a few things – my background in coffee, food pairing and some competition/signature drink stuff. There was a nice crowd and the training centre was beautifully set up (I chose the 3 group FB-80 to play on, over the 3 group Linea…) but still these sort of talks do make me nervous when there are a lot of very wise coffee people in the room. It went pretty well and a fair few people stayed behind after to chat about the sig drinks, more about food pairing ideas or just to talk coffee. Some of the baristas from Easton had made it down so they must have had an overload of my ramblings!

Talking in DC

Starting my talk in DC

Not many went out to dinner, and I enjoyed some calmer coffee talk and debate with Nick, Trish and Cindy over some fine Peking Duck.

A quick thank you must again go to the Jensen/Ultimo household for hosting us during our stay in DC – much appreciated. The next morning we headed to Murky Coffee in Arlington for a quick cup and also for me to have a chat with author Michaele Wiseman who joined us for lunch afterwards. Finally the sun came out (until then it had been Londonesque rain) and once lunch was done it was time to hit the road again and head down to Durham, NC and the home of Counter Culture.

inside Murky Coffee

Inside Murky Coffee Arlington


Aaron looks especially happy to be in the school photo

6 Comments East Coast Roadtrip – Washington, DC

  1. resting

    was a treat to host you and anette and a pleasure showing you around DC a bit.

    i hope you find your way to minneapolis.

    glad to see you finally accepted aaron as your friend on barista exchange. he was feeling a little hurt.

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  3. aaron ultimo


    It was truly a pleasure to have you and Annette (and Cindy). This can be the only explanation for my constant giddiness.

  4. barbara given

    My son and I are starting a coffee cafe and need barista training on the east coast. Do you know where we can find the most comprehensive and best training? Also, when is the next DC challenge?

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