On my two visits to Filter Coffee, located one street off Connecticut Avenue on 20th between R St. and S St. in the Dupont Circle neighborhood I walked away with one over-riding thought. They sure can make a nice drink. Not so rare you say? Well, it kind of is rare these days as the coffee shop community blooms here in DC and the talent pool gets thinner and thinner. The baristas who served me were friendly and very competent. I could hear them answering customer questions with patience and with an interest in educating the novice, without being snobbish. From the decor which is earthy and inviting, accented by their signature warm orange espresso machine, to their focus on the coffee I quickly felt I was in a good place. A lightly adorned exposed brick wall serves as the backdrop for a wide cross-section of the diverse neighborhood.
Bike messengers, coffee hipsters, tailored commuters, the self- and un-employed laptop addicts, and local office workers all can equally lay claim to this small semi-submerged oasis. Just a few steps below street level one gets the sense of being a world away aided by the sweet aroma of a large variety of pour overs, and the hubbub of conversations and swell music in the air. Most days finds Rasheed, the owner, personally making the drinks or waiting at the pick-up end of the counter to smartly greet his large cadre of regulars. I overheard a few of his speeches on fine dining and could see a real passion in him - a passion not fully realized in his shop as the selection of baked goods or food of any kind is surprisingly lacking. Upon leaving after my second visit was when I even noticed they offered anything. This is either a bad oversight or a testament to their single-minded focus on the coffee. I will need more visits (and more good coffees) to really know. It didn't bother me one bit.
Of their coffees I went with the Guatemalan suggested to me. French Pressed. It was simple, clean and mild. A true crowd pleaser. My next visit found me going back to the counter for second Americano for the road. More please! One of the best Ive had in the city. Their website lists Cafe Pronto of Annapolis as their roaster, a very competent and popular roaster that serves many shops here in DC.
As good as things were, I would like to see Filter move out of that box a little and multi-source their beans which I believe would back up their bona fides as a coffee-centric operation. The bottom line on Filter is that its a wonderful coffee shop that knows its community and works hard to provide it with good coffees in a nice environment. Coolness factor is high - you must check out the coffee icon bike racks out front.