Road Trip! [Washington D.C.]

Hello, yes, we have returned from a fruitful adventure past the mason-dixon line!

The main conversation of the 12 hours or so spent in the car was:

Anne: Thank you for driving me to Washington, DC.
Neil: Thank you for buying me an iphone.

And so, we journeyed to the nation’s capitol. And for what? To visit friends and family? To see the sights? To find out how hard it really is to drive there? No, of course not. It was, indeed, for coffee.

On the way down, we stopped in at a cafe that has provided Joe with several happy and talented barista transplants – Small World Coffee. Touted for being a busy, intense shop behind the counter, our visit proved to be no exception. When we got inside, there was a line not to the door, but out and into the cafe next door (which, during the week, is actually a second Small World). As would prove a theme for our cafe visits, I was a little coffeed out just coming from my opening shift at Joe, and so settled on a lemonade. Neil, as my co-judge and mocha drinker, had no complaints about his beverage. We had a seat in the ample dining room and chowed down.

My lemonade and Blondie at small worldNeil at Small World

We continued on through the miserable interstates that connect new york, new jersey, delaware, maryland, dc, and virginia. Things we learned: tunnels often cut out scenic byways, you will always find a Wendy’s just after giving up and going to Friendly’s, driving on these stretches are just as scary as everyone says they are, and never go anywhere without a map, no matter how good or detailed your directions are. We finally stumbled off the freeway at the Pentagon (wow, hello large building), and after a few more missteps made it to the house of a gracious family friend (thanks Broschat!).

So… up again just past dawn, I made Neil once again schlep me to the Counter Culture Training Lab for my SCAA class succinctly titled “Professional Development for the Working Barista”. The class was held as part of an SCAA three-day training event, and I, for one, was totally stoked they offered this course as part of it. Previously, it had been one of the few things I felt like I had really missed out on due to missing the SCAA conference at long beach. But! Hark! Ellie Matuszak to the rescue, as she organized this class once again, and intends to bring events similar to this one to other regions this year as well.

The class itself was great. It had two aspects, one coffee based, and the other milk based. In the first half we cupped six different espressos, and then pulled shots to taste the difference in preparations between brewed coffee and espresso shots. What fun! What… 2 cups of coffee + 18 shots of espresso…. fun. By about shot 12 I was going a little batty.

For the second half, we learned latte art, and even though part of our training at Joe requires us to be competent latte artists, it is always good to go back and re-learn the skills, particularly from different people. One thing I’ve learned in the past few months is that everyone – everyone – pours latte art differently. So the simple act of listening to someone describe their method and then watching that method in action is kind of like starting from scratch. And damn if I didn’t prove it when I made my first pour, a shamefully thin layer of foam on top of the cup. Oh well! I proved myself later in the lesson. Aaron from Murky Coffee was a very articulate and energetic instructor, and, you know, could pour triple rosettas when asked.

This is everyone crowding around for Aaron’s multiple pour demo:
Coffee People

Some of you may wonder, but Anne, what did Neil do while you got your nerd on at the Counter Culture training center? Well, how good of you to ask. From what I could asses, Neil went on a very pleasant walk, visiting Dupont Circle, getting waffles for brunch, and going book shopping. Nick Cho accused me of “boyfriend abuse” for making Neil come down to DC and wait around while I putzed in front of an espresso machine – a criticism I was fully prepared to accept – but Neil insists that he had a good time. And I do hate to drive, so it was awful nice of him to come.

And speaking of Murky, home of the nicest baristas in the land (as far as I can tell), Katie Carguilo kindly drew a map from the Training Lab to the Murky just off Pennsylvania Ave. Not only did we make it there with far fewer directional errors than getting to the lab itself, we also managed to pass the washington monument and the mall, the capitol building, and various other stone-cold stone government buildings. Did we manage to take any pictures? Of course not! Silly!

The map, in part:

murkytease.png

However, we did make it to Murky.

Murky's doorNeil's Macchiato at Murky

Neil, once again, did the coffee drinking for the both of us (did I mention how much coffee I’d already had?). Having, in his words, a “tasty” macchiato. Me? I had some (tasty) herbal tea. The Murky baristas on hand proved very friendly and patient as I stumbled through my what-do-I-want moment at the counter. Also, Neil found the “traditional cappuccino” to be an exciting item on the menu. Most places don’t insist on a six ounce drink, served in porcelain only, with no additions or substitutions. So kudos to that.

After our visit, we decided it would be best to hit the road and make the most of our drive back, rather than rush through the DC sights and suffer the interstates back. So we took the scenic route, thanks to Neil’s astute purchase of the Michelin Atlas and my impeccable map-reading ability (if I do say so myself). Some things we saw? The UTZ potato chip factory, York barbell, and lots of farm and countryside. We even stopped at a roadside seafood restaurant in Maryland so Neil could get some Maryland crab.

Fun fun fun.

UTZ factory!Squinty on Route 30

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~ by Anne on July 9, 2007.

One Response to “Road Trip! [Washington D.C.]”

  1. Sounds like a great time. I love a good coffee weekend.

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