How Amazon’s HQ2 Will Affect DC’s Coffee Scene

 

I’m sure you’ve heard. Tuesday, Amazon selected Northern Virginia and NYC for its HQ2 locations. Crystal City and Alexandria, VA areas will house the company’s new offices and more than 25,000 employees in a new neighborhood called “National Landing.” The area’s culture is most certainly about to change in drastic ways. News articles are speculating about how exactly it will change — increased traffic and expenses (food, real estate), and a better overall food scene are expected, but no one has covered, you guessed it: coffee. And this is big!

From what we understand about CEO Jeff Bezos and the Amazon HQ1 in Seattle, we can only surmise that a robust coffee scene – showcasing local DMV roasters – will be a part of the new Amazon HQ2 at National Landing. 

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Why do we think that we all should be talking about an exciting coffee scene with Amazon’s arrival?

  1. First, what do we know about Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and coffee? Most fundamentally, yes, he’s a coffee drinker.
    • According to Axios, at an Economic Club of Washington, DC gathering, he said: “I like to putter in the morning. So I like to read the newspaper. I like to have coffee.”
  2. Amazon/Bezos bought Whole Foods Market in 2013 for $13.7 billion, and Whole Foods owns a coffee company. This means, to us, with the Whole Foods purchase, Bezos already de facto invested in coffee, and sustainable coffee at that. Which company is it? Allegro Coffee Company. Whole Foods acquired Allegro back in 1996. Allegro are Colorado-based roasters, and represent Whole Foods’ values of sustainability and ethical sourcing. Allegro has locations in DC and Virginia (within the) Whole Foods coffee bars. By the way, we’re guessing that the closest Allegro to the new Amazon HQ is probably the Whole Foods at Pentagon City.
  3. The Amazon campus at South Lake Union in Seattle, though we’ve never visited, is famous for acclaimed food restaurants and the hottest food trucks.  (Apparently Bezos really likes food trucks and his cuisine-related choices make him what we would dub a “foodie.”) This Washingtonian article, which speculates on what the Seattle campus means for DC, explains that Amazon’s West Coast campus features strong local restaurant names and avoids large national chains. It also names which restaurants Bezos has dined in the region, but does not list coffee shops. Ok, so, what can we assume? That Bezos may not be bringing big coffee chains to this campus/HQ2, either? Exactly. But it could mean independent coffee shops. Why? See #4.
  4. The current Amazon Seattle campus/HQ1 celebrates local coffee roasters. There are actually 17 coffee shops total on the Seattle campus, and all are local roasters! (If you’re curious which roasters, click the link to explore a photo gallery.) Does this mean that the National Landing will also house numerous local coffee roasters? We think yes! We’re already curious how the coffee shops will be selected. Is it only about size of the roaster? Sure, 25,000 employees is a lot, but after looking at the Seattle shop list, we think it’s about specialty. About quality coffee. And yes, Seattle boasts a renowned coffee culture, but DC’s coffee scene has boomed in the past 5-10 years. We bet Bezos would love a great cup of specialty coffee to go with his morning Post. (By the way, you must know that Bezos owns The Post. To find more hints, we got curious and this article told us that this coffee brand is what WaPo employees drink. We haven’t had it, but it looks interesting. Hint: not a local roaster.)
  5. Amazon has held two “Coffee Symposiums” in Seattle as of this year (2018), further establishing the company as coffee-loving. The Seattle Symposiums have served as “means of showcasing the dozen or so independent roasters that operate in buildings across its [current] campus.” According to the article, one of the roasters on the campus, Elm Coffee, uses 8,000 pounds of coffee annually to serve the 45,000 employees in the city. The article also lists Starbucks as a Symposium participant, which would negate the point made in #3 about lack of large national chains, but perhaps its because Starbucks’ roastery and roots are in Seattle. Could be. We found some more pictures of the Coffee Symposium, here.

If you aren’t yet convinced that more coffee could be coming to National Landing, consider the fact that local area roasters will be keen to participate in this business opportunity. Like in this story. The current coffee scene in Crystal City is lackluster to say the least, with only the recent addition of La Colombe Coffee Roasters served out of new bright spot: The Stand. Your coffee options do perk up with a semi-short walk to Pentagon City, including as aforementioned, the Pentagon City Whole Foods’ coffee bar serving Allegro, or coffee offerings from the delicious Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters up the street. There just aren’t enough coffee options, not now, and not if new behemoth Amazon is moving in. Note: Commonwealth Joe would classify as a “local roaster” for Amazon’s coffee hub. Yet La Colombe is HQ’d in Philadelphia and we’re not sure the mile radius that Amazon defines as “local coffee scene.”


So who are the local coffee roasters that we think should make the list for coffee shops at the new Amazon DC HQ? Here’s a sampling of local roasters below, with stars for our very favorites!

DC

  • Compass Coffee Roasters* (read our review)
  • Filter Coffeehouse & Espresso Bar*
  • Grace Street Coffee Roasters
  • Harrar Coffee and Roastery (read our review)
  • Java House
  • M.E. Swing Coffee Roasters*
  • Qualia Coffee* (read our review)
  • Sidamo Coffee and Tea (read our review)
  • Small Planes Coffee Roasters*
  • Vigilante Coffee Company*
  • Zeke’s Coffee of DC

MD

VA

  • Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co.*
  • Cervantes Coffee Roasters
  • Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters*
  • Misha’s Coffee House*

Ironically, our list is 17, too.

If PA is in the radius, we must name La Colombe Coffee Roasters* (read our review), Elementary Coffee Co.*, Little Amps Coffee Roasters and Passenger Coffee Roasters*. We’re huge Passenger fans.


Which roaster do you think should get a spot on Amazon’s new campus? Obviously, we’re hopeful that this new coffee scene/the coffee shops near or on HQ2 will be open to the public and not just Amazonians! Regardless, we’re so excited at the prospect of a mini coffee ecosystem at National Landing! Send us any thoughts that you have and in the meantime, happy coffee-dreaming.

 

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