(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Blumen Cafe, a new independent coffee, tea and pastry shop in the Clarendon-Courthouse area, has opened for business in the former CD Cellar space (2607 Wilson Blvd).
The cafe has quietly opened this week — customers are discovering it by walking by — ahead of a planned grand opening event on Saturday, Oct. 29.
Blumen Cafe reflects European and Mediterranean influences. It serves Illy coffee and espresso, from Italy, and offers 27 different types of teas, imported from Germany. Half of its pastries — cakes, baklava, etc. — are homemade from scratch, we’re told.
Owner Andira Jabbari says she started the first Blumen Cafe in Germany, after graduating from a university there, before selling it and moving to Doha, Qatar, where she started a tea shop. Jabbari moved here last year and lives in Courthouse.
The cafe is a family affair — staffed by Jabbari and her daughters. Jabbari’s brother was in the cafe this afternoon, helping out.
Asked about competition from Starbucks, Jabbari brushed it off and said the quality of her offerings will stand out. The relaxed, airy atmosphere — including a large accordion-style door up front that remains open during nice weather — will also provide a welcome alternative to the green-logoed coffee giant, she said.
Blumen Cafe is currently open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Located at 520 12th Street S., near the new Whole Foods, Commonwealth Joe offers hot and cold coffee and espresso drinks, plus baked goods and bags of their own signature roasted coffees. The star of the menu, however, is the five varieties of Commonwealth Joe’s smooth, creamy nitro cold brew coffee which are available on tap.
Commonwealth Joe offers a homey, airy space for the usual legion of laptop tappers to camp out in while sipping their coffee. Wifi is available.
Over the next week Commonwealth Joe will be operating under reduced hours — opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 5 p.m. on weekdays and 3 p.m. on weekends. The hours will be expanded after employee training wraps up.
This is Commonwealth Joe’s first branded cafe, although the company — founded by four friends in 2012 — also operates the Java Shack in Courthouse. On 12th Street S. Commonwealth Joe will face competition from a familiar foe: Starbucks, which opened a block away earlier this summer.
Robbie Peck has the kind of founding story for his company that reinforces the artisanal cred that is fueling its growth.
Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters, which owns Java Shack in Courthouse and is opening a new flagship cafe in Pentagon City, started as a mom-and-son operation in Culpeper, Va., a coffee shop where Peck was the barista and his mother was the chief coffee roaster.
From those beginnings Peck founded Commonwealth Joe with one coffee roasting machine and three friends from college. A few years later, and now he’s just a week or two away the culmination of a lot of hard work and investment: the opening of the first Commonwealth Joe-branded coffee shop.
Located next to a new Whole Foods on 12th Street S., just two blocks from the Pentagon City Metro, the cafe will feature the company’s most popular product: nitro cold brew coffee, which is smooth, dark and served out of a keg — the Guinness beer of coffees.
In this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we learned that Commonwealth Joe’s nitro cold brew was the result of keeping a close eye on coffee culture in New York and other trend-setting coffee cities, in addition to a lot of experimentation.
We also learned:
- It takes quite a bit of effort to pedal a tricycle outfitted with a coffee keg up a hill
- Though Peck is competing with Starbucks, he credits the company for paving the way for smaller coffee companies like his
- Contrary to the experience of other small businesses, Peck says he hasn’t encountered much trouble from Arlington County on regulatory and permitting issues so far
Our podcast sponsor is Crystal City, which is hosting its annual Pups and Pilsners beer tasting event this Sunday from 2-6 p.m.
A new independent coffee shop is slated to open at some point in the near future in the Clarendon area.
The shop, called Blumen Cafe, is coming to the space that formerly held CD Cellar at 2607 Wilson Blvd, which is about halfway between the Courthouse and Clarendon Metro stations. Signs for the forthcoming cafe state that the business is “coming soon.”
Though we were unable to contact the proprietor behind the cafe, Andira Jabbari, for comment, real estate agent Kenneth Matzkin — who helped lease the property to Jabbari — was able to provide some insight.
The cafe will bring “high-end teas and coffee” and snacks to the space as early as some time this month, Matzkin said.
“They’re putting in a boatload of money to make it look nice,” Matzkin said. “They’re also going to open it up in the front so you could walk directly to the sidewalk from the space.”
But Matzkin cautioned that the end result is still subject to change.
A Rock ‘n’ Joe coffee shop is coming to Ballston, across from Ballston Common Mall.
With existing stores in Pittsburgh and New Jersey, Rock ‘n’ Joe describes itself as “a new third-wave coffee bar design, with artisan drinks focused on quality and craft with music brewing in the décor and air.”
“At Rock ‘n’ Joe the guest will be treated to an environment that is committed to the craft of making the perfect beverage, from our drip coffee of the day, to a special single origin coffee made in a pour-over method,” the company’s website says. “Our beverage artists are committed to making the perfectly balanced delicious espresso beverages; from a shot of espresso to a vanilla latte and our signature beverages and everything in between, our goal is to ROCK you with every cup of Rock ‘n’ Joe.”
So far there’s no word as to when Rock ‘n’ Joe expects to open. A company representative has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Rock ‘n’ Joe will benefit, at least temporarily, from the impending renovations at Ballston Common Mall. The mall’s Starbucks store has closed ahead of the two-year renovation process, although there are others nearby, including two blocks away at 801 N. Glebe Road.
— Guus Bosman (@guusbosman) April 4, 2016
Hat tip to @sfuss
Arlington-based coffee startup Commonwealth Joe says its planned coffee shop in Pentagon City will be the company’s flagship location — and will offer something beyond just a morning pick-me-up.
“Arlington deserves great coffee,” Commonwealth Joe co-founder and CEO Robert Peck said Monday. “We aim to deliver powerful experiences built around that cup of coffee, and also to provide an environment that makes you feel at home and gives you a sense of place — somewhere where you want to bring your friends and family and can also have chance encounters with others in the community.”
The new Commonwealth Joe store will be located on the ground floor of The Bartlett, a new 22-story luxury apartment building that’s currently wrapping up construction at the corner of S. Eads and 12th Streets, two blocks from the Metro station.
An experience and a sense of community is a key goal for the building and developer Vornado. Thus the reason the coffee shop is planning to make “experience” a cornerstone of its offerings and is working with a top-shelf local design firm for its build-out.
From a press release: “Although they are not revealing details just yet, they say that the new space will be the first of its kind in the entire D.C. metro area, and will offer some exciting amenities for Bartlett residents and customers, including coffee cuppings and brewing classes.”
The shop’s coffee offerings include single-origin coffees, pour-overs and nitro cold brew coffee.
Commonwealth Joe is planning to open on an unspecified date “this summer,” as is the next-door Whole Foods Market. Some residents have been told that the Whole Foods is eyeing a late June opening.
The press release, after the jump.
Starbucks customers may be able to order a glass of wine with their Pumpkin Spice Lattes at two Arlington locations in the next few months.
Starbucks has filed liquor license applications for its new Penrose Square (2413 Columbia Pike) and Arlington Ridge Shopping Center (2925 S. Glebe Road) locations. If approved, the stores will be able to serve beer and wine, in addition to the coffee and tea drinks the company sells.
Starbucks is offering beer and wine at select stores as part of its new “Starbucks Evenings” service, which also includes small plates.
According to a sample menu, the coffee chain will sell various red, white and sparkling wines by the bottle and glass, as well as craft beers. Small plates include truffle mac and cheese, bacon-wrapped dates, chicken skewers and truffle popcorn. Menus vary by region.
License applications for the two stores are currently pending, according to the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.
Wine and beer will come to the Long Branch Creek location in “probably a few months,” said a supervisor at the store but she could not provide any additional information. USA Today reported in August that Starbucks is launching Starbucks Evenings at more than 2,000 of its 12,000+ U.S. stores, with many opening by the end of the year.
A Starbucks spokesman stopped short of confirming that the two South Arlington stores will in fact be serving beer and wine in the near future.
“Just as each customer is unique, so are our stores and we consider a broad range of products and experiences for each neighborhood,” said the spokeswoman. “And, as you’ve probably seen, we’re in the very early stages of considering our stores at 2413 Columbia Pike and 2925 S. Glebe Road for the Evenings menu. It’s a long and thoughtful process and the permit filing is just one of many steps we take.”
The event is being held tomorrow (Sept. 17) at the new Bob & Edith’s Diner at 539 23rd Street S., from 4-7 p.m.
“Coffee with a Cop has no agenda or speeches,” says a flyer for the event. “The event is a chance to ask questions, voice concerns and get to know the officers in your District.”
One possible topic of concern for neighbors: the as-yet unsolved murder of Bonnie Delgado Black in nearby Aurora Highlands. Black’s ex-husband’s house, also in Aurora Highlands, was searched by investigators two weeks ago but so far no arrests have been made in the case.
Business is reportedly robust at Rappahannock Coffee (2406 Columbia Pike) despite a new Starbucks moving across the street.
The independent coffee shop, which once was the only cafe serving the portion of the Pike around Penrose Square, is so far not seeing negative effects from its newfound competition with the Seattle-based chain, according to owner Gi Lee.
“Our customers are loyal customers,” Lee said.
The new Starbucks opened at 2413 Columbia Pike in the middle of August, worrying some Pike residents that it would hurt Rappahannock and cause it to close. The local coffee shop had faced previous threats of demolition back in 2013 when a developer proposed building apartments on the strip of land where Rappahannock is located.
ARLnow.com observed 17 customers in Rappahannock this morning over a half hour period. At Starbucks across the street, we counted 27 customers over the course of 15 minutes.
Although the chain store sees more customers in the morning, it might not be due to customers defecting from Rappahannock. Lee said most regular customers are still coming in for their morning cup of joe, the beans for which are roasted in-house.
“Everybody likes our coffee,” he said. “It’s very fresh here.”
Rappahannock customer and vocal fan Jason Gooljar said the chain may have attracted new customers from the neighborhoods around the Pike while the local coffee shop kept its old customers. He professed his reverence for the small shop in a Facebook post, which he posted from Starbucks.
“So yes, I’m here at the Starbucks,” he wrote last Wednesday evening. “[Rappahannock] closes early.”
(Starbucks is also open three hours later than Rappahannock, which operates from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Starbucks is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. It is slow in the evening and Lee said he does not anticipate increasing the hours.)
Starbucks and Rappahannock offer two different environments, Gooljar said, and the two stores attract different types of customers.
Rappahannock has a more neighborhood feel, where customers interact with each other and the baristas, Gooljar said. Signs next to tables at the coffee shop encourage people to sit with their neighbors and meet new people.
“This store, people have made some really good friendships here,” he said.
On the other hand, Gooljar said, Starbucks is more individual — people typing away quietly on laptops or grabbing an espresso drink to go while on their commute.
One of the new Starbucks customers is South Arlington resident Kevin Keaty. He was already a loyal Starbucks customer and went to one of the chain’s stores in Pentagon City before the Columbia Pike location opened, he said.
“I really do like their products,” he said.
Horst Lummert, a new Arlington resident, visits both coffee stores and said he has noticed people in the Starbucks at night after Rappahannock has closed. On the other hand, Lummert said he sees about 20 customers in Rappahannock when he stops by in the morning. He has been a loyal Starbucks customer for many years, but he said there is something nice about visiting a local coffee shop.
“I come here because of the wonderful service,” he said. “And the coffee is pretty good.”
The manager of the Columbia Pike Starbucks referred ARLnow.com to the company’s corporate media relations department for comment.
Burn & Brew, a new shop that specializes in tobacco and coffee, is open on 23rd Street S. in Crystal City.
Owner Taha Humayun opened the doors to his new shop on March 18, just a few steps away from another smoke-themed store, Smokey Shope III. He said his shop sells the cheapest cigarettes in Arlington — $5 a pack — because of deals he’s supposedly worked out with a variety of cigarette and rolling paper companies.
In the five minutes an ARLnow.com reporter was in the shop, in the former expansion space of the Gossip boutique next door, a customer came in a bought a pack of Marlboro Lights. When Humayun told her the price, she said “wow, that’s crazy.” Most of the cigarettes sold in the county cost at least a dollar more per pack, we’re told.
Burn & Brew sells bags of coffee beans and drip coffee — “no lattes or shots of espresso or anything like that,” Humayun said — as well as vaporizers, vaporizer juice, “every rolling paper on the market” and all different kinds of pipes.
“A majority of the people who smoke drink coffee,” Humayun said. “And a lot of the people who drink coffee also smoke cigarettes.”
Humayun is still waiting for a number of products to come in. When he’s all stocked — he expects that to be complete by next week — he also will sell newspapers like the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today.
He wants to be a daily stop for the smoking and drinking crowd of south Arlington, many of whom, he said, are bartenders and waiters. The Crystal City location is his second shop — he’s operated the first store in Annandale for six years.
The vacant space at the corner of the Pike and S. Barton Street — where Bar TNT and Society Fair closed last fall — will be home to the coffee chain, the building’s management told residents today.
“We’re spilling the beans and we want our residents to be the first to hear the new,” said an email to the residents, which was forwarded to ARLnow.com. “Coming summer 2015, Penrose Square welcomes its newest retailer: Starbucks Coffee. Live, Work & Caffeinate at home in your very own Starbucks.”
The location is facing Penrose Square’s public plaza, next to the Giant and a block away from Red Rocks pizzeria. This will be the first Starbucks on Columbia Pike in Arlington; the closest location is in Pentagon City.
Next Thursday, March 19, members of the ACPD’s Second District team will be serving as baristas at Java Shack from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. The ACPD has pre-paid for $100 worth of drip coffee to give out to customers, and officers will be serving it as well as making themselves available to the community.
ACPD’s Second District covers from Ballston to Rosslyn, Crystal City and Pentagon City and the residential neighborhoods closeby. Capt. Kamran Afzal is the commander of the second unit, and he said the event is a way to talk to the community “with no agenda.”
“We’re just trying to engage the people that we serve over a cup of coffee,” Afzal told ARLnow.com over the phone today. “Anything goes, whatever people want to discuss, we’ll discuss, and maybe humanize each other.”
The First District unit of ACPD hosted a similar event at Metro 29 Diner in January, Afzal said. The Java Shack, under new management since January, will look to do more community-oriented events like ‘Coffee With a Cop’ in the future.
“‘Coffee With a Cop’ is a great example of the types of community events that have defined Java Shack’s growth over the years,” Java Shack manager Robert Peck said in a press release. “We are honored to host the Second District Team and look forward to giving our baristas a break while the police run the counter.”
Photo courtesy Sean Douglass
(Updated on 2/13/15) Clarendon residents will soon have another option to get their caffeine fix.
A Peet’s Coffee & Tea appears on its way, with signs up in the windows of the building at the corner of N. Highland Street and Washington Blvd. The store is expected to open this spring, but “our exact date is still to be confirmed,” according to a company spokeswoman.
When it opens, it will be the second Peet’s location in Arlington, following the coffee shop that opened in Shirlington last year.
Peet’s offers higher-end coffees and teas, and will compete with Oby Lee and the 7-Eleven across Washington Blvd. The location is also a long block away from Northside Social and a third of a mile from the Starbucks on Clarendon Blvd.
(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) Would you pay $25-30 for a day of unlimited coffee and snacks in a place that offers video games, board games, poker, foosball and the occasional standup comic or musician?
A husband and wife team are banking that the answer is “yes.” Vitaliy Hayda and Kseniia Shnyreva, immigrants from Ukraine and Russia, respectively, are planning on starting a new type of coffee shop, called The Third Place, in Arlington.
The pair has been blogging the travails of opening up a business, from the registering as an LLC to advertising to showing the initial renderings of the interior. They say they plan to open the business this summer in Arlington, but they do not plan to look for a location until April or May, the owners told ARLnow.com via email. They list “Rosslyn, Virginia” as the location on their Facebook page.
The name of the establishment refers to the concept of a “third place” where people can hang out and socialize.
“According to urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, the first place is your home, the second place is your work and the third place is your ‘great good place,'” The Third Place’s website says. “It’s where you go to relax, have a good time, and surround yourself with friends both new and old.”
Traditional coffee shops, where people work on laptops, meet friends and hold informal business meetings, are viewed as a type of third place. However, sometimes “third place” business can be challenging for coffee shops, where customers can buy a $4 coffee and occupy a table for hours while tapping away at a laptop and using the free Wifi.
It appears that The Third Place seeks to remedy that by encouraging people to spend the entire day for a flat fee. It could almost be compared to an airport lounge, minus the airport but plus occasional entertainment.
The website says The Third Place will have bottomless coffee, tea, milk, juice and snacks for a $25 a day fee online, and $30 at the door. It will also sell coffee and tea to go. Hayda and Shnyreva also plan to offer memberships, including a $300 a month option that allows for unlimited entrance, eight guest passes, 50 percent off coffee to go and a 50 percent alcohol discount.
The Third Place plans to have a bar, allow for food delivery and let customers to bring their own food and alcohol in. In one of their blog posts, Hayda writes that they will have edible coffee cups, milk shots, a circular wood-burning fireplace and outlets with USB chargers.
(Updated at 2:35 p.m.) Java Shack, the locally owned coffee shop in Courthouse, will change ownership on Thursday after opening 19 years ago.
Commonwealth Joe is an Arlington-based coffee company that sells its roasted beans, coffee-infused desserts and other goods both online and at local farmers markets. It was started two years ago by four Arlington residents and has grown around the community.
Commonwealth Joe’s owners “are passionate about coffee, and dedicated to maintaining and building upon our neighborhood tradition,” Roberts wrote in his Facebook post. “I’ll still be around, but will be less visible on a day-to-day basis.”
Roberts is hosting a going away party of sorts at “The Shack” tomorrow (Dec. 31), when Roberts will be “solo behind the bar” serving coffee in his last day as owner.
Photo via Facebook