I waited too long, as usual, to post the details of my Coffeenering Challenge trips this year. I planned to write each one as a captivating little story.
However, tonight is the deadline to submit my results to MG to qualify as an official coffeeneur. I want keep up my streak as one of the original coffeeneurs who have completed the challenge in all three years.
I blame work and bike riding for having to cover the final five coffeeneur rides in one post. Someday I’ll be a proper blogger and post in those spare moments.
Anyway, the clock is ticking down to midnight. Here we go:
Date: Oct. 19
Shop: Caffe Amouri, Vienna, Va.
Drink: Soy Latte
I was coming down with a cold but this didn’t stop us from getting out on this sunny day for a little ride to Vienna on the W&OD Trail. Caffe Amouri is a little gem off the trail that just happens to be a couple of blocks from Bikes@Vienna, where owner Tim F. specializes in folders and recumbents.
The soy latte was large and delicious. I bought a pound of espresso beans to take home. We spent an hour hanging around with Tim and test riding bikes, departing with visions of small wheels dancing in our heads.
Date: Oct. 26
Shop: Baked and Wired, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
Baked & Wired is known for gourmet cupcakes, but we go there for the espresso. They pull a spectacular shot, full of flavor and that smooth oomph that defines the best.
MG was taking the day off the bike to rest for the Marine Corps marathon the next day. This turn of events gave me the opportunity to take my latest project bike out for a good long ride: a black and red 1987 Bianchi racing bike I picked up at my apartment building’s bike auction. I converted it to a smooth and fast randonneur bike (of sorts) with wide 650b tires and new parts.
After riding past Vienna to Leesburg on the W&OD Trail, the Gen. Jubal A. Early Ferry deposited me on the Maryland side of the Potomac River for the ride home over familiar roads. MG came to meet me at B&W for a late day treat.
I crave espresso about this time of day, and it was a good one. One triple shot was enough; a good way to end a ride on a fun “new” bike.
Date: Nov. 2
Shop: The Coffee Bar, Washington, D.C.
Distance: 10.3 miles
My daughter DF was again in town and we went out at mid-day for coffee and lunch. The Coffee Bar opened less than a year ago in what looks like an old mansion in the up-and-coming (read: gentrified) Logan Circle area of Northwest D.C.
DF and I rode the Lead Sled tandem and MG rode her single bike. TCB exudes a high-end connoisseur experience, so in the hopes being deemed worthy to be among their clientele, I asked the friendly barista at the counter about the espresso choices.
She admitted she didn’t really know how to describe them. With that, I got the house blend.
And it was…fantastic. Wow. My taste buds were singing. Next time I won’t bother asking, I’ll just order.
The weather was warm and we lingered outside with the young crowd. MG had a delicious cardamom latte and Dagny had a hot chocolate. I put The Coffee Bar on my list as a place worth visiting again.
Date: Nov. 9
Shop: Volo Coffeehouse, Manayunk, Pa.
Drink: Hot cider, espresso
Distance: 72.7 miles
As they say in Soviet Russia, sometimes the road rides you!
MG and I drove up to the Philadelphia suburbs and left the car at the end of the Schuylkill River Trail, where we were to ride about 30 miles into town for an overnighter with friends and a visit to the Philly Bike Expo.
I had no idea that we were to turn after six miles to stay on the trail and I had us ride an extra 18 miles away from Philadelphia on the Perkiomen Trail before realizing the error. The trail was lovely with fall color everywhere, so it wasn’t the worst thing in the world.
Anyway, by the time we got to Manayunk, outside Philadelphia, it was dark and we were famished. Volo served a mean espresso and a flavorful cider, both of which raised my spirits. Our friends rode out from downtown to guide us back in for dinner.
Volo has a high-end feel and the quality to match. We liked it enough that all of us stopped on the way out of Philadelphia the next day.
I have to mention, also, that we really liked Elixr Coffee in downtown Philadelphia, where we met the Velo Orange folks for a pre-show coffee on Sunday morning. This was a backup coffeeneur stop for me in case we didn’t get out the next weekend.
Date: Nov. 16
Shop: Beans in the Belfry, Brunswick, Md.
Drink: Soy Latte
Distance: 128 miles
We had all day to ride and picked Brunswick as our destination. Brunswick is a railroad town off the C&O Canal Trail, just south of Harpers Ferry on the Potomac River.
At about 62 miles away, Brunswick is about the farthest we go from home and back in one day. We crossed the Potomac into town famished after taking the long way via Whites Ferry, Leesburg and historic Waterford. Beans is in a big former church and features live music in addition to drinks and sandwiches.
I can’t say I’m a fan of their espresso, but in a big cup of soy milk, it’s fine. The food was good and we were back on the road with smiles on our faces.
And so we concluded my coffeeneuring challenge for 2013.
Lessons learned? Good coffee shops are sprouting up all over; there’s never been a better time to be a coffeeneur!