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Posted by on Aug 16, 2016 | 2 comments

A Guide to Cafes of Del Ray

A Guide to Cafes of Del Ray

I love drinking coffee, and lucky for me there are many cafe options for the coffee lover in Del Ray. It all started with St. Elmo’s back in the 1990s. They were the first coffee shop on the Avenue. In the past several years, several others have sprung up. They are not copycat cafes; they each have their own niche and personality. The Caboose Cafe is down the street from St. Elmo’s in the heart of Mount Vernon Ave. They are a favorite of Mount Vernon Community School teachers for their proximity to the playground and they serve a great Dirty Chai as well as a red eye that will keep any teacher wide-eyed all day. Their outdoor seating is welcoming to people who are joined by their canine friends. Stomping Ground is just a block down from the Caboose. It is located between the Farmer’s Market and the Happy Tart. They have delicious biscuit meals as well as great coffee! The interior is lively and their community table...

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Posted by on Mar 14, 2016 | 1 comment

The Perfect Pour Over

The Perfect Pour Over

When it comes to a great cup of coffee, I prefer to make myself a pour over. A few years ago, I took a class at Swing’s where they taught me how to make a pour over along with other types of manual brew methods. It was a great class. You can get all of the supplies I mention in this post at Swing’s. Here are the supplies you need for a precise pour over: Swan neck kettle Coffee grinder V-60 ceramic coffee dripper Gram scale V-60 filters Coffee beans Mug Here are the supplies you need for a not so precise cup (don’t worry it will still be good): V-60 ceramic coffee dripper V-60 filters Coffee beans Mug You can use a regular kettle, but I love and highly recommend the swan neck kettle. I helps you give a slow and precise pour. Place your coffee dripper over your mug. I start off by rinsing the filter with hot water. You don’t want to taste anything but the...

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Posted by on Jan 26, 2015 | 0 comments

Donuts Paired with the Perfect Cup of Coffee

Donuts Paired with the Perfect Cup of Coffee

So much of the buzz around the opening of Sugar Shack donut shop in Alexandria, rightly, has been in praise of their handcrafted donuts. But I think their coffee selections deserve a shout-out too. Owner Rob Krupicka took great care in picking a roaster and creating a coffee menu, that in my case, will bring me into the shop, donuts or no donuts. “We use Zekes,” says Rob, “which is a Baltimore-based small batch roaster. We also offer it by the bag in the store. We offer a full range of espresso drinks, as well as a few specialty drinks you won’t find another coffee shops like our honey lavender latte.” (And for tea drinkers, he has a variety of loose leaf teas to choose from.) An ultra runner, Rob told me about a cold brew blend he devised called “runners blend.” I had the opportunity to try an iced cup the other day. The brew is designed for exercise recovery and muscle inflammation and is subtly flavored with ginger,...

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Posted by on Apr 18, 2014 | 1 comment

Coloring Easter Eggs with Natural Dyes

Coloring Easter Eggs with Natural Dyes

Inspired by Katie’s experiment of using natural dyes to color Easter eggs, we’re spending the day trying various household ingredients to make additional colors of natural-dyed eggs. Katie’s batch last year using blueberries, beets, and turmeric yielded these shades of blue, red and yellow. I set a dozen white eggs to boil on the stove and then, based on what we had on hand, decided to try: Purple cabbage for blue Coffee for dark brown Turmeric for yellow Beets for pink Paprika for orange Rooibus (red bush) tea for golden orange I started the dyes the night before. For each color, I put the hard boiled eggs into each mixture to soak. For each concoction, besides the natural dyes, you just need vinegar, salt, and boiling water. The ratio I followed was 2 cups of dyed liquid to 2 tablespoons of vinegar to 2 tablespoons of salt. For the dark brown color, I used some coffee brewed extra strong and then added in the vinegar and salt. For the orange color,...

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Posted by on May 7, 2013 | 2 comments

The Art of the Coffee Cupping at Swing’s

The Art of the Coffee Cupping at Swing’s

I went home after my coffee cupping at the new Swing’s coffee roastery and soon-to-open cafe in Del Ray with coffee grounds stuck to my nose, completely unaware. Even though nobody told me at the cafe (embarrassing!), it was worth it. Mark Warmuth (at right in the photo below), Swing’s president and CEO, and Neil Balkom (at left), their buyer, trainer, and coffee quality control guy, filled me in on the cupping process as well as the nearly century long history of coffee selection and roasting at Swing’s. Cupping, for the uninitiated like me, is the process  of evaluating different coffee beans, comparing and contrasting their characteristics, which can vary according to country and region and farm. Neil does cuppings all the time to discern which beans earn the Swing’s label. At each cupping, which the public can attend in the cupping lab every Friday at 10 a.m., Neil sets out six small bowls of coffee beans. On one side, he selects three coffee beans that represent different varieties from all...

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