Reason 289

#289: There are lots of places where you can go to write

Yes, there are a lot of Starbucks in Washington, DC. Yes, more than a lot. Yes, there are four Starbucks locations within an 8-minute walk from my office. Yes, DC is not Seattle or Portland or wherever it is that they have a million indie shops. DC is not perfect, but it has some really good coffee-shops and other cool places where people can go to write.

Below, I grade potential study places based on factors important to graduate students and other people that need to write things.


Here are the best and the worst in each category:


Best: Boloco. I assume the coffee sucks and the place is always too loud, but every booth has electrical outlets. There are often way more outlets available than people at the place.

Worst: Panera. They have pursued a new policy of limiting the time people can use their restaurant as an office by eliminating all outlets. There food is delicious but this policy sucks.


Best: Your own apartment. Seriously. All these other places have at best so-so WiFi.

Runner up: Your friend’s apartment.

Third place: Caribou. They’re leaving town soon, so get there will you still can.

Update: they left town. Replaced by Peete’s Cofeee. Have only been there once, so I can’t judge yet.

Worst: Starbucks. It’s faster to walk to the Library of Congress and make a copy of the entire journal you want to read than to download the paper on the WiFi at Starbucks.

Size of the Mug

Best: tie between Panera, Open City and Bourbon Coffee. They all have giant mugs like the ones in Central Perk.

Worst: The Commisary. They serve coffee on some weird glass mugs.

Quality of the coffee

Best: I am partial to Starbucks and The MUG at Georgetown, because that’s what’s familiar to me.

Worst: Midnight MUG at Georgetown. I didn’t think it was bad, but a friend described the coffee as tasting like “burnt hoof of a llama,” whatever that is.

Availability of seating

Best: SoHo Coffee and Tea. Nobody goes there. Ever. They lose some points because they have mean signs that ask you not to take up a large table unless you are a large group.

Worst: Open City. Be ready to wait for at least an hour, no matter at what time you go.

Second Worst: Tryst. (Scott, thank you for suggesting this.)

Overall hygiene of the clientele

Best: Le Pain Quotidienne. These people are preppy and smell like perfume.

Runner up: Georgetown Public Library. Same. Lots of preppy. Lots of perfume.

Worst: Gelman Library at GW. It smells like undergraduate sweat and Red Bull pretty much all the time.

Second worst: Marlin Luther King Library. The outside smells like trash, the inside smells like air conditioning. In spite of being the largest branch in the DC public library system it never smells like books.

I can’t judge on proximity to campus/work/school, because this varies from person to person.


New overall winner on all categories (except the mug category): cove


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