Coffee Shop Without Walls: Francis Scott Key Park

•November 15, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Coffeeneuring, Ride 7

WHERE: Francis Scott Key Park [M & 34th Streets, Washington, DC 20007, (202) 895-6070]

www.nps.gov/olst/planyourvisit/keypark.htm

WHEN: Saturday, 14 November 2015

WHAT I DRANK: Hot apple cider

WHY GO: Historic and scenic stop along the route of a bigger adventure.

HOW FAR: 33.4 miles

My last Coffeeneuring adventure was not to be contained indoors. It was too nice a day after a hard week, Peter and I were both restless for a long ride in the sunshine.  I heated up the last of the cider from Roy’s Orchard (Sperryville, VA) and filled a Thermos, which got snapped into one of Vaya’s bottle cages.

Vaya is a traveling beverage provider.

Vaya is a traveling beverage provider.

We cruised down the Custis trail first, and made our way across Key Bridge in a vicious crosswind. Reaching the serene urban oasis at the Georgetown end of the bridge, we stopped at the benches in Francis Scott Key Park and shared some hot cider.

Cider to go.

Cider to go.

Vaya and Peter in Francis Scott Key Park.

The urban oasis of Francis Scott Key Park.

From there we dropped down to the C&O Canal and stopped again at Fletcher’s Cove. We went through the low-clearance tunnel under the canal, then rode some singletrack down to a spot on the Potomac where we sat on a huge downed tree and watched the water go by.

Black Walnut and Osage Orange trees were dropping fruit everywhere.

Black Walnut and Osage Orange trees were dropping fruit along the Potomac River.

We continued on the Capital Crescent Trail, with a detour to see my old neighborhood off Sangamore Road.  At the end of the trail in Bethesda, we found a cafe called Fresh Baguette and had some baked treats and coffee.  And more cider before heading out again.

Continuing east along the Georgetown Branch Trail and through the streets of Silver Spring, we ultimately made our way to the start of the Sligo Creek trail and started heading south.  So many people out enjoying the beautiful day meant we slowed to pass cautiously around lots of pedestrians, dogs, and strollers.

Reaching the junction of the Anacostia Tributary Trail where we intended to curve north to College Park, we stumbled on another cute little cafe called Shortcake Bakery and couldn’t resist the temptation to stop in. They had just closed, but the staff was still inside doing their end-of-day chores and opened the door to invite us in. We locked our bikes to the rack out front, and sampled their unique and creative treats.

Shortcake Bakery, very friendly to cyclists.

Shortcake Bakery, very friendly to cyclists.

Coconut pineapple cupcake, rum pound cake, and a beef curry patty. Sweet and savory, each was an unexpected delight.

Coconut pineapple cupcake, rum pound cake, and a beef curry patty. Sweet and savory, each was an unexpected delight.

Only a few more miles to College Park, where we stopped by the Metro station to see their new Bike & Ride facility.  It’s a secured indoor storage area for bikes, available for free, and coming soon to other stations in the Metro system.

Bike & Ride, a big step up in bike friendly accommodations for Metro!

Bike & Ride, a big step up in bike friendly accommodations for Metro!

Impressive secured indoor bike storage, coming to a Metro station near you.

Impressive secured indoor bike storage.

Last stop at College Park Bikes, where Peter got to chat about tandem braking systems and test ride a new Co-Motion Cascadia touring bike.  By then it was dark and the temperatures were dropping, so we hopped on Metro with our bikes and took the easy way home.

Arlington to College Park, the roundabout way.

Arlington to College Park, the roundabout way.

Coffee and cycling mix well, and Coffeeneuring is a great motivator to try neighborhood shops and explore new places. The challenge may be over, but I’ve now developed a habit to incorporate hot beverages into cool-weather rides.  My inspiration will be a lasting one.

Have hot beverage, will travel.

Have hot beverage, will travel.

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Best Buns Bread Company

•November 8, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Coffeeneuring, Ride 6

WHERE: Best Buns Bread Company [4010 Campbell Ave, Arlington, VA 22206, (703) 578-1500]

www.greatamericanrestaurants.com/bestbuns

WHEN: Sunday, 8 November 2015

WHAT I DRANK: White chocolate mocha

WHY GO: Al fresco seating

HOW FAR: 8.76 miles

After loads of fun yesterday at the Philadelphia Bike Expo, today was a relatively slack day.  I finally nudged myself to get outside around 3:00 PM, and Vaya and I drifted down the W&OD trail to Shirlington.

Best Buns is one of the regular morning coffee destinations for Arlington bike commuters, so I’d been there before. The place was still busy while I stood in line for a white chocolate mocha and a lemon cupcake (review: To Die For).

One of the nicest parts about Shirlington is outdoor seating at most of the restaurants, so I occupied one of the empty tables on the sidewalk.  Minutes later, one of the staff from the Carlyle Grand Cafe came out to tell me she’d turned on the patio heaters, since the sun was setting and the temperatures were dropping.  I thanked her, both of us agreeing that the fresh air was of utmost importance.

I wasn’t alone long, as my friend Peter biked up from Alexandria to join me.  Although he’s not a coffee drinker, he bought a raspberry pastry and we shared treats.  After 5+ years of driving to/from Maryland, we’re both happier to live only a bike ride away.

My ride home was smooth and quiet as darkness fell, and I zipped up my jacket to avoid getting chilled.  Among the typical encounters with people walking, biking, and pushing strollers, I was curious to see an odd shape slink across the trail in Glencarlyn Park and duck into the shrubs.  Training my helmet light to the spot where I thought it had gone, I was delighted to see a red fox watching me as I slowly rolled past.  I took it as a good omen for things to come.

Lemon and white chocolate treats.

Lemon and white chocolate treats.

Al fresco coffeeneuring.

Al fresco coffeeneuring.

Sweets with my sweetie.

Sweets with my sweetie.

Eastern Market

•November 1, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Coffeeneuring, Ride 5

WHERE: DC Donuts tent @ Eastern Market [225 7th St SE, Washington, DC 20003, (202) 698-5253]

www.easternmarket-dc.com

WHEN: Sunday, 1 November 2015

WHAT I DRANK: Drip coffee with cream

WHY GO: The whole busy market experience

HOW FAR: 14.82 miles

The forecast said the rain would end at 11:00 AM, and at precisely 11:06 the clouds parted enough to let the sun through.

Vaya and I took off for Eastern Market.  A quick review of great DC coffee shops sent me towards one rumored to make Nutella lattes.  We had a perfect ride down the Martha Custis trail and along the Potomac River, then crossed into DC to wind our way up towards Eastern Market.

Alas…. What was Pound on the Hill had been taken over by new owners last summer.  I should have read up enough to find out the new Bourbon Coffee is apparently still serving Nutella lattes, but instead I detoured to Eastern Market itself, which is always buzzing with activity on weekends.

Vaya was secured at one of the many bike racks near the Rumsey Aquatic Center while I cruised the vendor stands inside and outside.  Everything from vegetables to handmade crafts are for sale.  There are many hip coffee shops in the area, including the popular (and award winning) Peregrine Espresso.  I opted instead for a simple cup of drip coffee and cream from the DC Donuts tent, and drank it on a bench marveling at the warm afternoon in early November.

The clocks were set back to Standard Time this morning.  I felt my extra hour of the day was well spent outdoors.

Pause along the Potomac

Pause along the Potomac

Watched someone feeding the ducks

Watched someone feeding the ducks

Drip coffee enjoyed outdoors

Drip coffee enjoyed outdoors

Vaya waiting patiently

Vaya waiting patiently

Bustling Eastern Market shops and booths

Bustling Eastern Market shops and booths

South Block Juice Co.

•October 31, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Coffeeneuring, Ride 4

WHERE: South Block Juice Co. – a Micro Juicery [2121 N. Westmoreland St., Arlington, VA 22213, (703) 534-1542]

www.southblockjuice.com

WHEN: Saturday, 31 October 2015 (Halloween)

WHAT I DRANK: Latte and “Glow” juice

WHY GO: One block off the W&OD, friendly people offering lots of good healthy stuff

HOW FAR: 5.42 miles

Being in the DC/Arlington area, it’s hard not to duplicate what all the other coffee loving cyclists are doing.  Wanting to try someplace unique, I found a shop tucked away in a spot conveniently on my way to the Falls Church farmers market, so I combined errands.

Even on a chilly morning, the market was hopping. As I was loading up my goods to ride back, a woman on a very cute Linus bike parked next to Vaya struck up a conversation.  She’d just started riding a year ago, and was mostly curious how much stuff I could fit into my small panniers.

South Block Falls Church Micro Juicery & Test Kitchen is where this company produces all of their juice & raw foods.  It’s one block off the W&OD trail, with a storefront and outdoor tables on a quiet street.  A large bike rack sits in front of the test kitchen windows, where you can watch the action inside.  The fresh smells of healthy concoctions waft onto the sidewalk.

I ordered a very fine whole milk latte made with Stumptown espresso, and took a bottle of “Glow” juice (pineapple, apple, fennel, aloe, lemon & mint) home to try later.  Both were solidly worthwhile, zingy and energizing.  Though juice is their specialty, the store partners with other local companies to provide healthy food and baked goods as well.

South Block Juice Co. was fairly busy, so though it was new to me clearly it’s not unknown in the neighborhood.  I know I will be back to visit!

Sunny sidewalk seating.

Sunny sidewalk seating.

Kale sucks! They must have a good marketing lobby.

Kale sucks! They must have a good marketing lobby.

That is some STRONG coffee!

That is some STRONG coffee!

Vaya in front of the test kitchen window.

Vaya by the test kitchen window.

Green Lizard

•October 21, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Coffeeneuring, Ride 3

WHERE: Green Lizard Cycling & Coffee [718 Lynn Street, Herndon, VA 20170, (703) 707-2453]

www.greenlizardcycling.com

WHEN: Monday, 12 October 2015 (Columbus Day holiday)

WHAT I DRANK: White chocolate mocha

WHY GO: Proper coffee and bike shop right on the W&OD Trail

HOW FAR: 32.5 miles

This was a casual ride with friends, but we took a break at Green Lizard, and I only realized afterwards that it totally counts for one of my Coffeeneuring rides!

Rob instigated this trip out the W&OD, for a bunch of us who had the holiday off (and one who’s recently retired and has EVERY day off!).  We started at the Vienna caboose and aimed to have lunch at Carolina Brothers Pit Barbecue in Ashburn for a 30+-mile round trip.

Peter pulled Sophie (who’s 10) on the tag-along, because she was excited to join us but we were riding more distance than she could handle on her own.  This meant we got to enjoy her company, but it also meant Peter would be working harder than most of us.  We promised him breaks.

The group chose to stop in Herndon.  We went around the block to Great Harvest Bread, but as usual whenever we try to stop in they were closed.  So we took over the tables in front of Green Lizard.  I went inside for a white chocolate mocha, Sophie scored herself a blueberry muffin, and everyone relaxed in the warm sunshine.

The espresso drink was excellent, and the fact that it’s served at a full-service bike shop makes it extra appealing.  It’s no wonder people from inside the Beltway regularly make Green Lizard a ride destination!

White chocolate mocha, with sunshine and friends.

White chocolate mocha, with sunshine and friends.

Vaya reluctantly takes a break.

Vaya reluctantly takes a break.

Northside Social

•October 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Coffeeneuring, Ride 2

WHERE: Northside Social Coffee & Wine [3211 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201, (703) 465-0145]

www.northsidesocialarlington.com

WHEN: Sunday, 11 October 2015

WHAT I DRANK: Latte, with quiche

WHY GO: Hip, bike friendly, plenty of outdoor seating. And as the name implies, very social.

HOW FAR: 19.5 miles

Northside Social Coffee & Wine, a successful gathering spot for Arlingtonians.

Get your buzz at Northside Social Coffee & Wine.

Coffeeneuring rocks. A perfect excuse to be out early with Vaya, with no purpose besides a pleasant little adventure.

Today I started in the walkable, livable Westover Village neighborhood visiting the Sunday farmers market and completing my grocery list.  I skipped the tempting and popular Donut Bites, and filled my trunk bag with fruit, vegetables, and croissants.

Westover is less than a mile away, so I dropped off the market haul at home and continued on to find coffee.  I’d never been to Northside Social and it allowed me to explore the lovely, peaceful Bluemont Trail as an alternate route to downtown Arlington.

Northside Social was hopping, but about 10 minutes later I’d acquired a latte and found a seat outdoors.

My “daily special” quiche with ham, spinach, corn (I’d never thought to put corn in a quiche…. shyeah!), and gruyere was warmed and delicious.

At a recent meetup with other bike folks, someone mentioned trying an egg sandwich made with a poached egg, which was drippy and messy to eat, earning a negative review.  Northside Social makes their breakfast sandwiches this way, with the eggs poached…. fair warning.  Try the quiche, or one of their pastries!

Eventually I had to vacate my seat. Just as I got to the Bluemont trailhead, Peter called to say he was leaving his house in Alexandria on a bike, which caused me to detour on the W&OD down past Shirlington to meet up with him.  In the spirit of Coffeeneuring Rule #8, this was a DISorganized ride full of purposeful wandering. By the time we were done, I’d biked almost 20 miles under bluebird skies in crisp autumn air. What’s not to like?

Trunk bag overflowing with greens and tomatoes.

Trunk bag overflowing with greens and tomatoes.

The Bluemont Trail wanders through north Arlington.

Meandering along the Bluemont Trail.

Whole milk latte, Daily Special quiche, served up with bliss.

Whole milk latte and the Daily Special quiche, served up with bliss.

Large outdoor patio with small and large communal tables. Sip coffee with your Arlington neighbors and mull over how to change the world.

Large outdoor patio with small and large communal tables. Sip coffee with your Arlington neighbors and mull over how you’d like to change the world.

Cafe Kindred

•October 3, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Coffeeneuring, Ride 1

WHERE: Cafe Kindred [450 N Washington Street, Falls Church, VA 22046, (571) 327-2215]

www.cafekindred.com

WHEN: Saturday, 3 October 2015

WHAT I DRANK:  Latte (with an egg & cheese croissant)

WHY GO: This coffeeshop hosts Bike Arlington commuters every Tuesday morning. Despite the nasty cold, wet weather, over half a dozen of them showed up in search of coziness on the first official day of Coffeeneuring.

HOW FAR: 3.22 miles

Cyndi and about half dozen locals, most of whom showed up on bikes.

Cyndi and about half dozen locals, most of whom showed up on bikes.

I drank it before I remembered to take a picture of the pretty design in the milky froth.

I drank it before I remembered to take a picture of the pretty design in the milky froth.