If you know anything about me at all, or have read the about section of my website, you know that I love coffee.
I love the taste, I love the science, I love the social aspect. I love coffee.
But for me, it’s not just about the caffeine rush, it’s about the atmosphere — it’s about the people and the feeling when you walk into the doors.
As I’ve come into my own coffee loving life, I’ve found a few coffee shops in my travels that bring me the sense of relaxation that feels like home.
In no particular order, here are the coffee shops that have saved (and changed) my life.
The Commonplace Coffeehouse — Indiana, Pa.
If there is one incredibly positive thing I can say about my college experience, it’s The Commonplace Coffeehouse. The shop is owned and operated by TJ Fairchild, and a handful of incredibly talented and friendly baristas.
I discovered the coffeehouse through my friend (and former coworker) Natalie Hotaling. Hotaling is one of the Commonplace’s baristas.
The shop brews the coffee that is roasted by its roaster, located in Pittsburgh.
On any given day, they have at least one unique blend of espresso on tap, and an economical coffee of the day that features one of their roasted blends.
They also make your standard fare lattes, macchiatos and have a pretty fair assortment of teas.
In March of 2014, the Commonplace won 2nd place in the America’s Best Coffeehouse competition. There are several Commonplace locations — one in Pittsburgh, one in Indiana (on Grant St.) and another at the Indiana Regional Medical Center.
Baltimore Coffee & Tea – Timonium, Md.
I discovered Baltimore Coffee & Tea (a place I accidentally refer to as Baltimore Tea & Coffee all the time) in the fall of my second year of college through frequent visits to my aunt, who lives in the area.
When you walk into the shop, to your left are dozens of burlap bags filled with coffee beans of various roasts. They have flavored blends, standard roasts and decaffeinated coffee as well.
Every day, they constantly have eight different varieties of their coffee brewed fresh and ready to go. They also have a fantastic assortment of teas of the loose and not loose (I obviously don’t know much about tea) variety.
Although they have lattes and espresso in the shop, I infinitely prefer just a straight coffee from one of their many blends and roasts.
They have three locations — one in Frederick, one in Annapolis and one in Timonium. They also roast right in their Timonium store.
If you’re making any sort of trip that involves I-83 toward Baltimore or the Washington D.C. area, the shop is only a couple minutes off your route. I highly recommend the Snicker Snicker flavored coffee, as well as the Federal Hill Blend.
Bakehouse – Washington, D.C.
Now, Bakehouse isn’t necessarily a straight up-and-down coffee shop. Focusing primarily on baked goods, Bakehouse (on 14th & T NW, near the U Street Metro stop) still does have a pretty good assortment of coffee beverages.
Unlike the Commonplace and Baltimore Coffee & Tea, Bakehouse brings in roasted beans from Zeke’s Coffee, a small-batch roastery, mostly located in the Baltimore area. Zeke’s does, however, have roaster locations in Baltimore and D.C. They also have shops in Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
According to their website, their DC roasting location (in the NE section of the city) also does serve coffee on most days of the week.
At Bakehouse, my favorite drink is easily the mid-city buzz — a seasonal (as in summer season) take on iced coffee. The drink uses a cold-brew coffee concentrate, tossed with a french vanilla syrup and a little bit of cream.
Even though the drink is not offered year round, I was able to have a barista make it for me over the winter months when I visited.
So that’s that then. Those are my top three. I attempt to vary my favorite coffee shops by location, so ideally, as I visit more places, and drink more coffee, this list will be updated.