There are lots of good reasons to start your day in Alexandria—the bustling energy, the very good chance you’ll run into an adorable pup or two, and of course the cozy cafés where you can warm up and fuel up with coffee before you hit the streets.Want to know where the locals go for a delicious espresso, cappuccino or Nutella Latte? Alexandria’s top coffee shops have it all—locally roasted artisan coffee, free wifi, fresh pastries, space to work, space to hang, and the brews to get you up, out the door and coming back for more.
Alexandria Coffee Roasters
Swing’s Coffee Bar
Swing’s owner Mark Warmuth leads a Cupping Lab event at the Swing’s Del Ray Coffee Bar. Image courtesy of M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria
In 2016, Swing’s celebrateed 100 years in the DMV. It should come as no surprise that a roastery so “steeped” in history would take their coffee seriously. You can order ethically-sourced single-origin pour over coffee, espresso and cold-brewed iced coffee on tap in this wide open Art Deco space, with large windows and a garage door that opens up in the warmer months. You can also watch classic German coffee roasters at work behind the bar and participate in one of the scheduled public coffee cuppings Fridays at 10 a.m. Can you say coffee heaven?
Image credit: Jenny Markley
Misha’s iconic orange cup is the true mark of someone in-the-know about Alexandria. Just off King Street, this top neighborhood hangout serves hot chocolate and artisanal coffee roasted and brewed in-house, plus a selection of local pastries and baked goods. Most days, you can watch staff scoop beans straight into the roaster in small batches, and during the summer, you can sip coffee outside in Misha’s “spontaneous fourth room.” And if you’re looking for inspiration, well, “Misha’s elevates coffee to its rightful status as the elixir of poets,” according to Washingtonian magazine.
Alexandria Coffee Shops
Image via Flickr user meghanaf
This intimate, dog-friendly space on King Street has everything you could ever need: espresso, sorbet and pie (E.S.P.). Pies, empanadas and pastries are from DC area favorites Dangerously Delicious, Julia’s Empanadas and Happy Tart Bakery, respectively. They make their gelato in-house (yum!) and the coffee is ground from Stumptown Coffee’s Fair Trade beans. But wait, there’s more: order a Nutella Latte and—get this—it comes with a spoon of Nutella for you to lick clean. I may never leave.
One final note: for everyone who is so over the pumpkin spiced everything craze, Killer ESP offers a safe haven, labeling itself a “pumpkin-free zone” in the fall.
St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub
Image credit: Visit Alexandria
Located in the heart of Del Ray, St. Elmo’s bills itself as “the community gathering place.” They’re not wrong. With lots of seating, free wifi, and live music Wednesday through Saturday evenings, St. Elmo’s welcomes early birds and night owls and was recently renovated in 2016. The “Take a Book, Leave a Book” library lets you trade in your recent reads for books of all genres, and the board game collection is perfect for a rainy Saturday with friends. In warm weather, St. Elmo’s outdoor seating is prime people-watching territory.
Emma’s Espresso and Wine Bar
Del Ray’s newest coffee shop and evening wine bar offers coffee with beans specially roasted for Emma’s, wine and beer including a hand-picked selection of craft beers, and small seasonal plates. It’s a warm space with an atmosphere that inspires creativity.
More Buzz-worthy Cafés in Alexandria
Sugar Shack Donuts: Add a little extra sugar to your coffee at Sugar Shack in the Parker-Gray neighborhood with a coffee or special drink.
Carluccio’s: The place to go in Old Town for specialty Italian coffee, best enjoyed on a stroll along King Street or down to the waterfront.
Extra Perks: This hidden gem in North Old Town has been a classic neighborhood breakfast spot for over a decade. It’s the perfect spot for classic British and American breakfast staples with a hot cup of coffee.
Stomping Ground: For a complete breakfast that hits the spot, don’t miss Stomping Ground, which serves locally-roasted Swing’s coffee.
Junction Bakery and Bistro: Choose from a variety of pastries and breakfast dishes for every palate, with an assortment of coffee and nitro cold brew.
Bon Vivant Cafe + Farm Market: Serves real, local farm food, and helps local farms that use natural, sustainable, free-range farming with a full coffee bar and menu.
Buzz Bakeshop: Buzz serves fresh coffee and espresso paired perfectly with their breakfast, including brunch cups and sandwiches that are great on the go.
Grape + Bean: Sample wine and coffee from small producers around the world.
For more coffee shop options in Alexandria, click here.
Header image by James Cullum for Visit Alexandria. Thank you to Kelsey Michael for her contributions to this post.