We’ve opened cafes in many interesting places over the past 14 years—a former truck showroom, a rehabilitated railroad track, an urban monument, a Datsun dealership, a high-speed rail station, a pee-smelling alleyway. It’s hard to say exactly what compelled us to build a cafe in each of these spaces. As Joan Didion said: “you have to pick the places you don’t walk away from.” But in each instance, they grabbed hold of us.
We’re about to venture into three new cities: D.C., Miami, and Boston. Each has its own lure and each will be approached with its unique character in mind.
All will contain really good coffee.
Washington D.C.is home to a burgeoning coffee scene. Our first cafe there will be located in Georgetown, a quintessential D.C. neighborhood.
We have reason to believe that a cafe with expertly sourced coffees, roasted and dialed in to our specifications, will be welcome and appreciated. President Obama recently ordered a fleet of Chemex emblazoned with his seal. And 200 years ago, The White House Cookbook published this sentiment by Mrs. F. L. Gilette: “Boiling water is a very important desideratum in the making of a good cup of coffee or tea… Do not boil the water more than three or four minutes; longer boiling ruins the water for coffee or tea-making, as most of its natural properties escape by evaporation, leaving a very insipid liquid, composed mostly of lime and iron, that would ruin the best coffee.”
We’re glad to take up the charge against “insipid liquid,” and our hope is that we will have three cafes in D.C. by 2018. Our first, on Potomac Street, is located in proximity to many lovely shops and interesting purveyors right off the C&O Canal Towpath—a tributary of the Potomac River with an adjacent footpath.
Miami is a mirage-inducing, heat-stroke provoking, flamboyant kind of place. It makes us think of muscle cars, nightclubs, flamenco, and robusta-heavy espresso served in tiny styrofoam cups. So what are we doing there?
We’re drawn to the Cuban coffee tradition for one thing. In Miami, you can get a street-side drink called a Cubano, which is a rough espresso served uncomplicatedly with a mound of sugar at the bottom. We think we’ll have completed two cafes by the end of 2017, with our first located in the Design District, inside what may be the most glamorous parking structure in existence. It looks like a Le Corbusier and comes with a Baldessari mural. The cafe itself is about 2,800 square feet and has soaring 25-foot ceilings.
(As an aside, this documentary about John Baldessari is narrated by Tom Waits and will inspire you not to be boring.)
The second cafe is in the Aventura neighborhood. This is an atypical one for us, because it’s located in a mall. But this mall, the Aventura Mall, is one of the busiest in the U.S. and a popular tourist destination for people all over the world, especially from Latin America. We think we’ll meet new guests from near and far here and we’re excited about introducing our coffee to them. We’ll be located in the new wing designed by British architects Foster + Partners (projects include the Great Court at the British Museum, Lycée Albert Camus, and Tower 2 at the World Trade Center).
This city may not, on first glance, seem like a coffee town. There is the Dunkin’ Donuts on nearly every corner (and it’s hard to hate a donut). But we like Boston for its academic, literary nature; the brownstone- and tree-lined streets of Cambridge; the crisp New England air in fall.
Boston is a journalist’s town. It’s a researcher's town. It’s home to many students and professors and writers and artists. Thoreau and Hawthorne and Plath lived in Boston. Mark Twain wrote: “In Boston they ask, how much does he know? In New York, how much is he worth? In Philadelphia, who were his parents?” We look for bookstores in Boston and take walks on the Charles River when we visit.
We are excited to be opening our first of five cafes in late-summer 2017 right in the center of academic life, in the Cambridge/Harvard Square neighborhood on Bow Street. We hope to serve coffee to many soul-searching philosophy students and thesis-writing PhDs. That would make us very happy.
Here’s to meeting new neighbors!
–James & Bryan