Press Club

Compass Coffee is planning to open a drive-thru location along Langston Blvd in Arlington this summer.

The D.C.-based coffee shop chain is currently in the midst of construction of its first ever drive-thru location at 4710 Langston Blvd, in the Waverly Hills neighborhood, a company spokesperson confirmed to ARLnow.

The hope is to open late this summer.

The nearly 2,700-square-foot space formerly housed a SunTrust Bank, which closed in 2020. A building permit was applied for in February that called for a new build-out and interior demolition.

In addition to the drive-thru, which was first reported by the Washington Business Journal, the space will also have an indoor cafe, similar to other Compass Coffee locations.

This will be the company’s third Arlington store, joining existing cafes in Rosslyn and Ballston. Compass also just opened a location in Fairfax back in March, furthering its reach into Northern Virginia.

Overall, Compass Coffee currently has 14 open locations.

In terms of coffee drive-thrus, there’s some buzzy competition just down the road. A mile away from the new Compass Coffee, Starbucks has its own drive-thru — also a repurposed bank. The Starbucks has attracted long drive-thru lines, sometimes extending out to Langston Blvd, particularly at the height of the pandemic.

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A new cafe and lounge is hoping to open in Crystal City within the next couple of months, the owner tells ARLnow.

Crush Cafe at 546 23rd Street S. comes from Yoseph Abegaz, who owns Flirt Lounge next door. It’s filling a space that was once occupied by a dry cleaners and shoe repair shop. The location was first rented last June and a building permit to alter the interior was first applied for in September.

The new cafe is set to serve coffee, Abegaz tells ARLnow, as well as beer, wine, and mixed alcoholic beverages.

Abegaz described the new cafe as essentially an “expansion” of Flirt Lounge, a hookah bar and lounge that opened in 2016. He declined to give an exact timeframe about when his newest venture may open, only that they are still in the midst of licensing and permits.

It will be at least a “couple of months” before Crush Cafe can open, Abegaz said.

That strip of 23rd Street S. is known as “restaurant row.” With Amazon HQ2 moving in down the road and extensive development happening in the neighborhood, there remains some questions of the aging, low-slung retail strip’s long term viability.

Nonetheless, much like Crush Cafe, new eateries continue to set their sights there.

Beauty Champagne & Sugar Boutique just started serving bubbly earlier this month at the corner of 23rd Street S. and Fern Street. A halal restaurant franchise is hoping to open a new concept by the end of the year on S. Eads Street, just around the corner from Crush Cafe’s new home. A half block down, a Korean rice dog eatery was planning for an early 2022 opening but that appears to be delayed, with the restaurant’s website still not accepting orders.

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A Virginia State Police vehicle (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Both Virginia State Police and Arlington County police are planning coffee-centric community engagement events in the coming weeks.

This Saturday, April 16, state troopers will be at the Italian Store in Westover (5837 Washington Blvd) from 10 a.m. to noon, ready to engage with the public. VSP will also be recruiting at their “Coffee and Conversation with Virginia State Police” event, looking for new hires to join their ranks.

With continuing staff shortages, VSP recently started offering a $5,000 hiring bonus for those who complete the academy and a training program.

There is also a chance new state hires could be working more closely here in Arlington. In November, the County Board approved a mutual aid agreement that allows troopers to aid Arlington police in keeping the nightlife scene in Clarendon and Crystal City safe.

ACPD, meanwhile, is set to host the first “Coffee with a Cop” events of 2022 later this month.

On Tuesday, April 26, officers will be at the Starbucks at Penrose Square on Columbia Pike from 10:30 a.m. to noon and at East West Coffee on Wilson Blvd in Clarendon from 2-3:30 p.m.

“It’s an informal opportunity to ask questions, discuss public safety and get to know the officers and neighbors in your community,” police said.

The department has been hosting these coffee-centric engagement events since at least 2015.

ACPD also continues to struggle with staffing shortages, recently announcing that the department would cut back on some services while those reporting minor crimes well after the fact are increasingly directed to do so online rather than with an on-scene officer.

https://twitter.com/ArlingtonVaPD/status/1512425141908619273

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After nearly two years of serving up a unique range of coffee — most famously the orange juice-espresso blend called bumble coffee — Kino Coffee (2607 Wilson Blvd) has closed its doors for good.

Owners Anna Tsybko and Jason Blevins said in an Instagram post that the coffee shop and independent movie venue would be closing on Sunday after they decided not to renew their lease.

“This Sunday (11/28) will be Kino Coffee’s last day,” Tsybko and Blevins said. “We made the challenging decision not to renew our lease at 2607 Wilson Blvd. Thank you to everyone who joined us on this journey over the last two years!”

The owners emphasized the difficulty of the decision in an email to ARLnow.

“The decision not to renew our lease was a difficult one. With constant and persisting COVID uncertainties we made a challenging decision not to renew our lease,” they wrote. “We announced early last week that it was going to be our last one. We saw nothing but an incredible amount of support from our customers and community in general, who shared how meaningful Kino was to them.”

“We are proud to say that given the unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic we were able to build a healthy business, as well as create this community around our coffee shop,” the owners added. “We received emails, cards, and personal messages that showed so much appreciation and we will always treasure it!”

Kino Coffee, under its original name This is Fine Coffee, replaced the former Blümen Cafe in January 2020 — which unfortunately was just two months before COVID hit Arlington. The cafe added an indie theater and rebranded to a more cinematic feel last December.

The cafe’s legacy will continue in disgusted looks from this reporter’s girlfriend as he mixes coffee, orange juice, and caramel every few days.

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Morning Notes

The U.S. Air Force Memorial (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

YHS Wins State Field Hockey Championship — “Yorktown field hockey sticks to its routine to accomplish something it never has before… Patriots beat Western Branch, 1-0, for their first state championship.” [Washington Post]

ACPD Ramping Up Seat Belt Enforcement — “The Arlington County Police Department is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on the national Click It or Ticket campaign. Law enforcement agencies across the country will increase enforcement efforts from November 16 – 28, 2021, to work towards reducing the number of fatalities that occur when motorists fail to buckle up.” [ACPD]

County Has Available Kid Vax Appointments — “Arlington County Public Health is continuing vaccinations for 5-11-year-olds this week, Monday-Friday from 2-7 p.m. Over 6,000 kids ages 5-11 have already received their first dose. Schedule your appointment today.” [Twitter]

Arlington Man Charged in Fatal Crash — “A tip led to the arrest Monday of a 54-year-old Arlington man wanted on charges of DUI-related involuntary manslaughter and operating without a driver’s license in connection with a Nov. 6 crash in Montclair that killed a Dumfries man. Investigators obtained warrants Thursday for John William Harris… but attempts to locate him had been unsuccessful, police said.” [InsideNova]

Free Coffee at Taco Bamba — “To promote the breakfast menu and the free coffee program, Taco Bamba is giving away branded coffee tumblers to the first 50 guests at each store who purchase a breakfast item.” [Press Release]

Secret Santas Wanted — From Arlington County: “You can make the holiday season a little happier for some of Arlington’s most vulnerable residents by taking part in the @ArlingtonDHS’ Secret Santa/Holiday Giving Program. This program benefits Arlington’s at-risk residents.” [Twitter]

It’s Tuesday — Today will feature mostly cloudy skies through mid morning, then gradual clearing, with a high near 53. Sunrise at 6:52 a.m. and sunset at 4:53 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, with a high near 65. [Weather.gov]

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn.

(Updated 3:15 p.m. on 11/9/21) Next to water, Americans probably drink coffee more than any other beverage — but they know very little about the brew, says Karel Leon, the co-founder of a Ballston-based coffee company.

He and his co-founder Javier LLano want to change that by selling better beans through their company, Black & Brown Coffee House (4075 Wilson Blvd). It has the ambitious goal of tackling commercial coffee’s alleged unhealthy physical side effects and unethical treatment of farmers and unsustainable practices, while giving back to D.C.’s poorest communities.

“When you have a product, any product, and you know your food is not ethical, it’s not sustainable, and it’s bad for health of consumer, I would quit that job,” he said. “Why would I do that?”

Disaffected by his job at World Bank Group, Karel — who grew up on a coffee farm in Colombia — wanted to do work that directly impacted people in poverty. He started Dignity Coffee in 2018, providing offices with coffee from growers in his hometown, and brought LLano on after.

But the pandemic hit and slashed Dignity’s profits by 90%, he said. Karel and LLano, who are Latino and Black, respectively, rebranded in the wake of 2020’s social justice movements to draw attention to the inequality in the commercial coffee industry and provide consumers with an alternative.

Black & Brown Coffee House founders Javier LLano and Karel Leon pose with Colombia coffee farmers (courtesy photo)

They decided to start where bad-quality coffee hits people the hardest: their stomachs.

“The most important thing for the consumers is to educate people about what ‘healthier black coffee means’ and why that matters,” Leon said.

Leon needed coffee at the office in order to remain alert, but it gave him indigestion, so he tried eating bagels and adding milk and sugar to quiet his stomach grumblings.

He realized he wasn’t alone. Moreover, he learned that the common side effects of diarrhea and acid reflux could be traced to where the coffee berries are grown and how they’re picked and processed.

Most commercial coffee berries are grown in flat areas in the constant sun. He said coffee trees ought to grow on the sides of tree-covered mountains, where berries are exposed to fluctuating hot and cool weather that balances out the acidity and fully develops their natural flavors.

But farmers use flat land because their machines — which don’t discriminate between ripe, unripe and rotten coffee berries like a picker in the mountains would — to scale up their harvests, he said.

Berries continue developing their flavors during a fermentation process that underpaid farmers being exploited by large companies tend to rush, he said.

To extract flavor from under-ripe coffee, the beans are caramelized — or burned — on a high heat, which produces oils the body also can’t handle effectively, he said. Coffee shops and fast food places combat the burnt taste by serving the coffee extra hot, with additives or as carbon dioxide-infused “Nitro coffee.”

“This is one of the most unknown stories out there,” he said. “If people knew better, they would make better choices.”

Black and Brown Coffee House produces “healthy coffee” by paying Colombian coffee farmers fair wages and divvying up the work, he said.

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Two small local businesses, a dog daycare and a coffee shop, are the first two retailers to be announced for Amazon’s HQ2.

The massive office complex in Pentagon City is still under construction, but District Dogs and RĀKO Coffee recently signed leases for the retail space, Amazon announced this morning.

More from the company’s blog:

District Dogs and RĀKO Coffee are the first small businesses to sign leases at HQ2 as part of Amazon’s pledge to bring local, minority- and women-owned retailers to its second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

Amazon’s second headquarters is not only about office buildings for the company’s employees in Arlington, Virginia. The development will also help create a vibrant neighborhood by supporting local businesses with plenty of street-level retail space.

“Amazon growing in the National Landing neighborhood provides a great anchor to be able to support new local businesses within the community and those that have been around for a while,” said Kate Bates, president and CEO of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

As Amazon continues to build out its second headquarters, the company is also helping the growth of local businesses from surrounding areas in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Amazon is working to fill at least 140,000 square feet of open-to-the-public retail space between Metropolitan Park and PenPlace, which together will make up HQ2.

Based in D.C., District Dogs — a full-service pet care company — just announced a new location in Clarendon, its first outside of the District. The new HQ2 location will be the sixth for local entrepreneur Jacob Hensley, and will feature “over 6,000 square feet and offer opportunities for dog training, canine enrichment activities, and events to help local dog owners connect with a community of fellow pet lovers in the National Landing neighborhood.”

RĀKO Coffee, meanwhile, is a specialty coffee shop and natural wine and cocktail bar owned by sisters Lisa and Melissa Gerben. Originally just a coffee roaster based in Lorton, RĀKO opened its first bricks-and-mortar location this summer in Courthouse.

“The sisters opened their first café just a few miles away from HQ2, and they specialize in expertly crafted espresso drinks, such as a baklava latte and volcanic black salt vanilla latte,” Amazon said in its blog post. “They hope their customers start and end their day at RĀKO. The new location at HQ2 will feature espresso beverages, a natural wine program from women winemakers, owners, and growers, craft cocktails, and light fares. RĀKO will also operate a 250-square-foot lobby kiosk open to Metropolitan Park.”

Amazon has been in discussions with other local businesses, including one retail store, ARLnow has learned. Additional announcements are expected in the months ahead.

“Our goal is to prioritize small, local, minority- and women-owned retailers for the ground floors of our office buildings and in unique retail pavilions throughout the HQ2 site,” said Joe Chapman, director of Amazon Global Real Estate and Facilities, in the blog post. “We want to help create an 18-hour district that people want to drive to, not just drive through, and the businesses we attract to this neighborhood will be a big piece of that. We can’t wait for the entire community to get to enjoy these new additions.”

The first phase of HQ2 is set to open in 2023.

Amazon posted the following video, featuring Arlington Chamber of Commerce CEO Kate Bates, with today’s announcement.

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(Updated 9/23) Just a 20 minute walk away from the existing shop at Courthouse, growing cafe chain For Five Coffee Roasters is planning to move into Rosslyn.

The New York City-based coffee company is opening at 1735 N. Lynn Street, next to Chopt. It will be filling a gap on the block left by the closures of Cosi and Starbucks earlier this year.

East West Coffee Wine also closed recently, ahead of the redevelopment of its building at 1901 N. Moore Street, leaving Compass Coffee at 1201 Wilson Blvd as one of the only dedicated coffee shop options without hiking up the Wilson Blvd hill.

For Five Coffee Roasters was founded in 2010 in Queens, New York and has since branched out to Chicago, Los Angeles, D.C. and Northern Virginia. The chain’s Courthouse location opened last May with Nutella-stuffed cookies and an espresso bar.

Barron Bazemore Jr., chief marketing officer for For Five Coffee Roasters, said the plan is to open the Rosslyn location early next year.

“All I can share at this time is that the café will open [in the first three months] of 2022,” Bazemore said.

Hat tip to Edward M.

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(Updated at 10:20 a.m.) The new Dunkin’ store at 3300 Wilson Blvd, near Clarendon, is now open.

The standalone Dunkin’, which features its own parking lot and a drive-thru window, officially opened on Tuesday, a company spokesman said. The coffee and donut purveyor was open this morning, serving a trickle of customers who notice the “now open” sign.

The building — which was previously a Dunkin’ Donuts, before it closed and was succeeded Peruvian chicken restaurant Pio Pio, Indian-Pakistani-Bangladeshi restaurant Naan Kabob, and, briefly, Red Hook Lobster Pound — was completely renovated over the past few months.

The new interior includes a steel “Arlington Runs on Dunkin'” sign and “next generation” Dunkin’ features like a front-facing bakery case and tap-based iced coffee, nitro cold brew, and iced tea pours.

The new store, which is about halfway between the Virginia Square and Clarendon Metro stations, takes the place of the previous, more central Dunkin’ location at 3009 Clarendon Blvd in Clarendon, which closed earlier this month.

A company spokesman says Dunkin’ is planning “a two-part grand opening celebration for the end of the month.”

“On [Thursday], Sept. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 2, we’ll be hosting a Free Medium Hot or Iced Coffee offer from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” the spokesman said. “We’ll also be offering guests Dunkin’ swag from the Dunkin’ Prize Wheel, photos with Dunkin’ mascot Cuppy and more.”

The grand opening will also include the presentation of a $2,500 donation to the Capital Area Food Bank from Dunkin’ franchisee DDC Management LLC, we’re told.

Given Arlington County’s propensity for encouraging more pedestrian-oriented and less car-oriented facilities — including county staff push-back on a proposed second drive-thru lane for a busy McDonald’s along Langston Blvd — the new Dunkin’ drive-thru is something of a curiosity. According to Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt, the use of the drive-thru window was grandfathered in, given that the building previously featured one.

ARLnow observed the drive-thru already in use this morning, as an Arlington police cruiser was seen making a U-turn on Wilson Blvd and then pulling up to the order lane, apparently after the driver saw the “now open” sign.

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(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) Work is nearly complete to convert a dilapidated former restaurant space near Clarendon to a “next gen” Dunkin’ store, while a nearby location has closed.

Signs — including “now hiring” — are up at the renovated storefront at 3300 Wilson Blvd, which will feature a drive-thru window for those who want their coffee and donuts on the go. The space was once a Dunkin’ Donuts, before it closed and was succeeded Peruvian chicken restaurant Pio Pio, Indian-Pakistani-Bangladeshi restaurant Naan Kabob, and, briefly, Red Hook Lobster Pound.

After only a few months of construction, the store is now expected to open at some point this month, according to a company spokesman. No exact date was given, but it could be as soon as this week.

A sign on the front door of the Dunkin’ location 3009 Clarendon Blvd, in Clarendon, says the store — which also housed a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop — is now closed and customers should instead head to other Dunkin’ locations in Courthouse, Ballston or at 3300 Wilson Blvd. The latter is opening this coming Friday, Sept. 10, the sign says.

Located about halfway between the Virginia Square and Clarendon Metro stations, the new Dunkin’ will have some of the company’s “next generation” store features, which typically include things like front-facing bakery cases, tap-based iced coffee and tea pours, and mobile order pickup areas, a spokesman previously told ARLnow.

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(Updated at 2 p.m. on 8/30/21) Lorton-based RĀKO Coffee Roasters is opening RĀKO, its first brick-and-mortar coffee shop, on Saturday in Courthouse.

And to celebrate the grand opening of the café at 2016 Wilson Blvd, RĀKO will offer $1 coffees from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, with specially-priced natural wines available all day Saturday until 9 p.m.

The roasting company, founded by sisters Melissa and Lisa Gerben in late 2019, sources and roasts sustainably farmed, single-origin coffee. They planned to open a café last year, but the pandemic delayed that, and they launched an online store and a D.C. pop up location instead.

Now, the Gerbens have a space, in the former location of The Olive Oil Boom, to sell fresh roasted coffee from around the world, espresso drinks, food, cocktails and natural wines.

“Through its thoughtful offerings like the signature baklava latte made with cinnamon, cardamom, and clove infused honey syrup, RĀKO aims to make specialty coffee approachable,” according to a press release.

The company and shop are named for a mountain in Ethiopia called Rako, which translates to “challenge.”

“The brand’s name underscores its mission to create elevated and exceptional coffees while giving back to the communities it touches, both locally and globally,” the release said.

Weekday happy hours will start at 4 p.m. The drinks menu will center natural wines, a collective term for wines that eschew the chemicals, additives and extra processes found in many commercial wines, from cultivation to harvest to production.

“Much like its coffee program, the natural wine program is both approachable and dynamic, with the opening menu aptly named Summer Crush, boasting a curated selection of refreshing summer wines by women winemakers,” the release said.

Coffee will seep into the cocktail menu, from an espresso martini to a Negroni made with coffee-infused Campari.

To eat, RĀKO will offer seasonal foods, such as cucumber gazpacho and strawberry and manchego salad, meze and cheese boards. It will also serve “pocket foods” such as salteñas, empanadas and sambussas, a nod to the coffee-growing regions of Bolivia, Colombia and Ethiopia, respectively. Breakfast and baked goods will come from local bakeries.

All this will be in a trendy space that can accommodate 55 people and double as a private event space. RĀKO will be decorated with local art, textiles from Guatemala and vibrant paintings of Ethiopian flora.

“Lush and comfortable, the café is designed to be a space where guests can recharge and connect over a specialty coffee or a glass of biodynamic wine,” the release said.

The sisters aim to host a variety of events at the space, including wine tastings and latte art classes.

RĀKO regular hours are Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

(On Monday, RĀKO updated its regular hours of operation.)

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