I am self-employed. It’s strange to write that sentence, since I’ve worked in traditional radio for the last ten years. Since December, I set out on my own, launching the Hey Frase podcast with my longtime friend and co-host Samy K, and focusing my attention on becoming a full-time blogger and digital influencer.
Business is booming. My days now are spent recording the podcast three times per week, researching content, and meeting with businesses and sponsors. I’m busier now than I’ve ever been.
Although some of this work can be completed at home on the sofa in my pajamas (my preferred work set-up), there are times I need to set foot outside of my apartment to work and to meet with other people. That’s why I’ve begun exploring DC’s coffee shops for ideal locations to work on my own – whether it’s preparing show material or meeting with potential sponsors and collaborators.
Good coffee is the first requirement when I’m working and sipping – I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a coffee snob. My home brew is topnotch – fair trade organic blends, freshly ground beans, and filtered water – so when I’m out and about I’m looking for a perfect cup…not something that tastes burnt or bitter.
I can sacrifice table space at the local coffee shop as long as I have a good coffee, tasty homemade pastries, and free and strong Wi-Fi. These things are non-negotiable – ha!
Here are my favorite four coffee shops for the self-employed to work at in DC:
Compass Coffee: I LOVE everything about this spot. First its backstory: this gem was founded by two Marines who developed their love of coffee while serving in Afghanistan. Coffee became an important daily ritual for these two, and they learned to master its taste, and are now sharing it with us.
Its name (Compass) represents the profound simplicity and utility of a good cup of coffee – it helps you get your bearings and points you in the right direction. Their menu and coffees stay true to this concept. You won’t find a lot of hard-to-pronounce or overly fancy drinks here – just a great cup of coffee and a nice place to work.
It’s located in the trendy Shaw neighborhood, which makes for great people watching…I combat my short attention span with a good cup of coffee to keep me focused. Free Wi-Fi and ample work space helps too. It’s open daily 7AM-8PM, so it’s great for the self-employed who do our best work in the daylight. I like the whole menu – some of my favorites are their cold brews and the Ginger Latte.
1535 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
Bourbon Coffee: This coffee show allows you to drink for a purpose. On top of serving great coffee and espressos, Bourbon Coffee boasts they are the first retail brand to originate from Africa, and their shops brew their coffee from “crop to cup” (think farm-to-table but for coffee) – all while promoting sustainable practices and helping to reshape the global image of Rwanda and its economic development and culture.
Bourbon Coffee offers a few locations around DC but l prefer their Foggy Bottom location – right between GW University and the hustle of K St., it’s a mixture of student and professional vibes. Its atmosphere is very chill and generally quiet. Offering comfortable seating and a strong Wi-Fi connection, I usually have no problems finding a spot to sit. It’s the perfect location to get work done or have a business meeting.
I’m a big fan of their Cinnamon Spice Latte. It’s rich and creamy – a nice afternoon treat.
2101 L St. NW
Washington, DC 20037
Additional locations in Capitol Hill and Tenleytown
Baked and Wired: Hands down this is my favorite coffee shop in DC to work and get my caffeine fix. It’s probably the only coffee shop where the coffee comes in second to the delicious homemade baked goods that line the left wall as you walk in. It offers good counter space, and plenty of comfy sofas and chairs to choose from.
This is a popular place in Georgetown – it’s quite common on weekends (especially in May during graduation season) for lines to form along the street so it’s not an ideal work location during those times – it’s probably better suited for earlier in the day and during the week to get your work done.
The cupcakes and baked treats are phenomenal – treat yourself after you complete a task or two – but don’t forget about the coffee. I like their Chia Latte, and their traditional blends – either will leave a nice taste in your mouth.
One minor drawback is the fact the B&W doesn’t offer wifi, so be sure to bring your portable wifi hotspot. I prefer to use this location to meet clients and do old school pen and
Baked and Wired
1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW
Washington DC 20007
Ebenezers Coffeehouse – Ebenezers, located in Capitol Hill close to Union Station, is popular with the self-employed and working crowd. I like stopping in this spot when I’m traveling, as it’s a nice alternative to the hustle-and-bustle of working and waiting in Union Station. It offers free Wi-Fi and plenty of space – you usually can find an area to comfortably spread out.
Playlists can make-or-break your coffee house experience, and you won’t be disappointed with Ebenezers’. It’s eclectic but low-key, and you’ll often hear jazz – great background music while completing your project. The location does host live music events in the evenings so double-check its calendar if you prefer to work late and are easily distracted.
What I really appreciate about this place is that it’s owned and operated by National Community Church, and all of its profits go toward community-outreach programs.
People rave about their soy lattes (I’m sure they’re great but I don’t typically drink soy). When I visit I prefer their espressos and their rotating menu of specialty lattes – my favorite is the Blackberry Vanilla Latte.
201 F St NE
Washington, DC 20002