Sidamo Coffee & Tea, located in NoMa, is one of those elusive, cool places that you don’t really find on the “beaten path.” Grab your magic carpet and go there, though. It’s worth it.
Marked with a large red tea kettle pouring down over the doorway, Sidamo Coffee & Tea’s sign is definitely eye-catching. The tea kettle isn’t like Mrs. Potts’ round body from Beauty and The Beast, but rather more skinny and Middle Eastern, a la Aladdin. I bet if someone rubbed on it and made a wish, the genie might swirl out…
The entrance has large glass windows. It’s sort of long and skinny inside – something I’ve found as commonplace in the District. There are authentic burlap coffee bags decorating the floor of the coffee bar.
When I walked in, I was overcome with a distinct smell of spices. I’m not sure what it was exactly, but it subsided within a few minutes. Though Sidamo does have a food menu, I noticed it was mostly breakfast sandwiches and pound cake/pastries, not traditional Ethiopian fare. Perhaps my senses were inventing the smell for me; I really didn’t feel like I was in America anymore once I walked inside. It felt like a little slice of a Middle Eastern bazaar.
In terms of tables, I would guess there are around 7 inside. If you walk up the back stairs, there’s a little outdoor patio, surrounded by hanging plants, where I saw some people studying. No seats were outside, so I sat down at a table inside to assess the ambiance.
The line kept pretty busy while I was there, and the barista was friendly and recommended I try the morning chai. I didn’t ask what makes it a morning chai, as opposed to their other chais. The hot weather lured me into getting an iced drink, and so it was: the iced morning chai.
After the first few tastes, let me just tell you, there is something about Sidamo’s iced morning chai that tastes like banana bread. It’s amazing. I’ve never had such a unique tasting chai before. It was puzzling (banana?!) and delicious.
To top it off, the people coming in and out all had backpacks. The crowd at Sidamo is globe-trotters and backpackers. I’m fairly certain backpacking through DC isn’t a thing, but trust me, if you’re one of those awesome people who tours the world, and you have those expensive sandals, and a Nikon hanging from your neck to take shots of wildlife, you’re going to go to Sidamo. It just is what it is.
Most of the conversations I heard went as follows: “Oh hey, I just returned from Morocco where I was working for a year in…” or “This one time, when I was in the Sahara desert…” Yes, Sidamo gave me a strong case of the travel bug.
Was this a cupsoul?
Definitely. Global inspiration is abundant at Sidamo, and you’ll probably get a bad case of the travel bug. Warning: the travel bug is contagious.
Would I put Sidamo Coffee & Tea’s business card in the time cupsoul?
Yes, right next to its place in the Cave of Wonders…