Press Club

New Cafe Brings Odd New Eastern European Coffee Trend to Clarendon

Okay, hear me out: orange juice, espresso and a dash of caramel over ice.

Reactions in the ARLnow office were mostly negative, but the reporter who actually tasted it at the new This is Fine Coffee in Clarendon now swears by it.

The small coffee shop — which replaced Blümen Cafe at 2607 Wilson Blvd. — had its soft opening today, but co-owners Jason Blevins and Anna Tsybko said they’ve already started seeing more customers than they were expecting.

Blevins chalks some of that up to his Java Shack background: he worked at Java Shack from 2012 to 2014, before the local coffee shop was taken over by Commonwealth Joe and ultimately closed last year. Blevins said he wanted This is Fine Coffee to have a laid-back vibe similar to Java Shack and to serve as a local gathering place and an exhibition space for artists, some of whom already have art on display in the cafe.

Many of the customers at This is Fine Coffee are former Java Shack regulars, Blevins said, at which point two of the customers nodded in confirmation.

The signature drink at This is Fine Coffee is bumble coffee, the aforementioned orange juice/espresso/caramel mix. This is Fine Coffee’s owners said it’s a popular drink in Russia and Ukraine, where Tsybko is from and where Blevins spent time working on a documentary.

The contents can sound off-putting, so Tsybko says she sometimes makes it for friends and gets them to try it before saying what’s in it. But Tsybko and Blevins fell in love with the drink there and decided to bring it back home to Arlington.

While it sometimes feels like you can’t shake a stick along Wilson Blvd without hitting a dozen coffee shops, Tsybko and Blevins said the intensely personal feeling of This is Fine Coffee sets it apart.

“Many of the decorations here are from our apartment,” Tsybko said.

“We’re not a chain, or aspiring to be a chain,” Blevins said.

The pair said the name is an allusion to the decidedly unpretentious atmosphere of the cafe. Tsybko said it was sort of a self-aware reflection of the way people talk about where they want to meet and get coffee.

While a lot of new coffee shops are very into the science and classification of coffee and the idea of coffee mixing as an art form, Blevins said the name is a throwback to coffee shops as a community-oriented place where people can pull up a laptop and work or meet up with friends.

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