After spending the weekend in sunny Orlando (I somehow got a mild sunburn being at the pool for <4 hours?), walking to La Colombe on Florida Avenue was pleasantly brisk. And yes, I am just now realizing the connection between being in Orlando over the weekend and walking to Florida Ave.
It’s about 40 degrees out in DC today, and while that’s a drastic improvement over last month, it’s also a pretty far cry from 85. So it was with slightly watering eyes (you suck, wind) and a positive attitude (sorry, wind) that I walked the few blocks to one of my favorite coffee shops in DC, La Colombe. After the success of my First Tea Tour Stop last week, I had high expectations for this second one.
I lived in Chinatown in DC for 3 years from 2015-2018, and a block away from my old apartment was a La Colombe set on the edge of a nice little grass park. It was in that La Colombe that I wrote half of my previous novel while working at my old job, so I have a bit of a fond attachment to this smaller US chain (about 30 total locations). I also know that they serve some bomb tea since I’ve had it before.
First Impression & Feel – I’ve always loved La Colombe, and coming to the Florida Ave location reminded me why. The space inside is huge, with two dozen personal tables and a couple of larger high-tops. It being 1:30pm on a Wednesday, there were a remarkable number of people here, which made me wonder what the hell all these people do for a living (myself included, I guess). I just really like the vibe of working in a coffee shop – while some of the people there are working remotely for their regular jobs, I usually get the sense that a lot of them are working on personal (read: passion) projects, which gives everyone a sense of having kindred spirits. People are rarely loud and annoying here; you usually just get a nod, a friendly smile, and then the space and quiet you need to get work done.
Tea – on the barista’s recommendation for their “Finest tea, ma’am,” I went with the Hojicha Green Tea from Japan. The tea sachet was absolutely massive, and I thought it would be weird having to drink around it (I always leave mine in), but it wasn’t at all. The flavor was really strong and definitely put my regular Trader Joe’s green tea to shame (I still love you TJs). For these posts I’m always tempted to start pretending I’m a sommelier and give the tea absolutely ridiculous descriptions, but I’ll hold off.
Well… actually… maybe I won’t…
“Ah, yes, this tea has a great sense of humor. It really does laugh at all my jokes. I’m getting hints of jasmine, dry earth, and grandmother’s cookies. Maybe a hint of honesty at the end there, with an undertone of good posture. Simply fantastic.”
Drinking out of the fun china cup and saucer made me feel sufficiently fancy, too, so I give the drink high marks even though it isn’t called something as fun as ‘Fancy Jasmine Green Tea’ like last time.
Did I Get Work Done? – Absolutely! I spent a grand total of two hours here, and in addition to writing this blog post I also read and marked up five chapters (about 10,000 words) of my manuscript. I’m deep into the endgame of the story now, so getting through 10,000 words in one sitting is nothing to scoff at given how many notes I’m having to make to myself (this is the most important part of the story!).
Overall – I have to give a (possibly unfair) higher score to La Colombe than I did to Peet’s, so it gets a 7.5/10. The tea was just as good, but I really like the atmosphere here – it’s all bright colors, light woods, comfortable seats/benches/booths, cool artwork on the wall, and studious people. Also the ceilings are super high, which matters 0% but makes the space feel bigger and more open.
I have to say that I’m really happy I saved this week’s Tea Tour for the middle of the week. I stayed cooped up all day Monday and Tuesday furiously working on my manuscript, and I was starting to get a bit claustrophobic. Changing scenery shot my mood up from generally happy to constantly-smiling-in-an-annoying-fashion (as it always does), and I feel refreshed and ready to finish the week by getting a ton of work done.
Unfortunately there were no Alexander Ovechkin sightings this week, nor was there a playpen full of puppies. But there’s always next week!