If you like your coffee slow (by which I mean that the barista thinks the coffee is more important than you are), you’re in luck at Chinatown Coffee Co. In the still-Chinese part of Chinatown at 5th and H, NW, the long and narrow coffee shop is an anti-Stabucks.
Where Starbucks goes out of its way to offer you whatever their focus groups tell them you should want in comfy chairs, soothing music, and ridiculous drink choices, Chinatown Coffee Co. has a sparseness that says Hey, man, this is for serious coffee drinkers. Maybe you should go somewhere else. They just don’t care–it’s so attractive! The open door, exposed brick walls, and bus-you-own-table atmosphere are all welcoming in a completly non-Starbucks kind of way.
As well as not caring, CCC is using another 21st century marketing ploy: social buying. Sign up for the black card and get an email about weekly specials. Sure, they’re already on the website, but there are also random pop-up specials you’ll only get from the email. Like with Groupon or Living Social, email offers allow the customers more information on specials and the vendor more customers. Naturally, they have free wi-fi.
My favorite feature at CCC is the for here atmosphere. I used to like this same thing about Starbucks (until an unfortunate AT&T wireless internet incident cut our brief romance short). Half the customers stay to drink coffee and work/do the crossword/talk to another human. For these people there is a special for here drink menu: no sizes, just prices.
All in all, as long as coffee come first for you, it’s a pleasurable experience. My only beef is that they have sucumbed to the rule that any establishment in DC must sell cupcakes. Et tu, CCC?
Four and a half stars.