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 Wi-Fi, fresh pastries, space to work and hang, and the brews to get you up, out the door and coming back for more.
Alexandria Coffee Roasters
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 including tasty gluten-free options. 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.
Swing’s Coffee Bar
Image Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria
Swing’s celebrated 100 years in the D.C. area in 2016. 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. Swing’s also carries pastries from nearby Junction Bakery & Bistro that will sweeten any morning. 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?
Alexandria Coffee Shops
Image Credit: C. Davidson for Visit Alexandria
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 D.C.-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.
St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub
Image Credit: S. Stanton for 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 and free Wi-Fi, St. Elmo’s welcomes early birds and night owls and was renovated in 2016 into an even warmer and brighter space. You can catch live jazz sets from The Not-So-Modern Jazz Quartet every Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m. 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.
Nectar Del Ray Coffee & Wine Bistro
Image Credit: Nectar Del Ray Facebook
Del Ray’s newest coffee shop comes from sisters Susan and Shirley Waller from Dublin, Ireland. The sisters took over the former Emma’s location to bring a “local Irish hamlet coffee and bistro concept to the Del Ray neighborhood.” Nectar is the perfect gathering place any time of day, serving as a coffee, pastry and sandwich shop by day and a bistro, wine and craft beer restaurant by night. They serve coffee from Washington state’s Dillanos Coffee Roasters and offer specialty waffles like The Loaded Potato with hash browns, cheddar and bacon all topped with sour cream and chives and The Waffle Benedict with Canadian bacon or sausage with egg and hollandaise sauce.
More Buzz-worthy Cafés in Alexandria
Sugar Shack Donuts: Add a little extra sugar to your coffee at Sugar Shack in north Old Town with a coffee or special drink.
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.
Junction Bakery & Bistro: Choose from a variety of pastries and breakfast dishes for every palate, with an assortment of coffee and nitro cold brew.
Buzz Bakeshop: Buzz serves fresh coffee and espresso paired perfectly with their breakfast, including brunch cups and sandwiches that are great on the go.
Stomping Ground: For a complete breakfast that hits the spot, don’t miss Stomping Ground, which serves locally-roasted Swing’s coffee.
Grape + Bean: Sample wine and coffee from small producers around the world.
Java Loco: A favorite coffee spot in Alexandria’s West End neighborhood, serving coffee, espresso, bubble tea gelato and baked goods.
Dolci Gelati: Located just next door from the Visitor Center in Old Town, Dolci Gelati has a sweet reputation in Alexandria. They’ve also got stellar espresso drinks and you can even combine gelato and espresso for an affogato.
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.