The 10 Best Coffee Shops in DC: the Instagrammers Guide

If you excluded Starbucks, Washington, D.C. was a coffee shop desert when I first moved here in 2007. Fast forward to 2018, there’s a plethora of quality coffee shops, most of which are independent. In fact, there’s so many good coffee shops that writing a blog of the top ten is bound to be controversial. There’s such coffee shop diversity that everyone has their favorite one. It means the DC coffee wave is in high tide. ☕️

Because I have a coffee problem, I’ve visited them all (literally). I’ve ranked my top ten based on coffee, vibe (atmosphere, service, and amenities), accessibility (how easy it is to get to without a car) and Instagram-ability.

Here’s my list of best DC coffee shops in descending order:

Vigilante Coffee in Hyattsville, MD

Photo of Vigilante Coffee in Hyattsville

Vigilante Coffee in Hyattsville by @austinkgraff

Coffee: 4 out of 5

  • Arguably the best local coffee brand in the DMV, they do all their roasting out of this flagship shop. Their coffee is perfectly brewed that it doesn’t need any extra add ins (there’s even a sign that says that at their condiment bar).

Vibe: 4 out of 5

  • The baristas are usually friendly and seem to love their jobs. They sell a variety of pastries and breakfast items and even bring your food to your table. There’s Wi-Fi only during the weekdays (though some say it doesn’t work on Mac computers).

Accessibility: 1 out of 5

  • Unless you have a car, it’s just not accessible. The closest Metro is the West Hyattsville Metro and then it’s a 33-minute walk. If you have a car, it’s a short drive from Capitol Hill. Otherwise, Lyft there.

Gram-ability: 5 out of 5

  • It’s perfect. They blend the coffee roastery vibe with wall plants and an open floor plan. It’s industrial while still being very hipster.

Vigilante Coffee on Google Maps

Potter’s House in Adams Morgan NW

Coffee: 3 out of 5

  • You can find better coffee, but it’s still pretty good and gets the job done. Their cappuccino rivals most.

Vibe: 4 out of 5

  • It’s been a community center since the 1960s and the bookstore inside maintains that mission. The books are all about activism and the many couches and tables inside encourage people to gather, to build community. It’s also a wonderful place to work with free, reliable Wi-Fi.

Accessibility: 4 out of 5

  • Not close to any Metro station, it’s a 10-minute walk from the Columbia Heights Metro or a 19-minute walk across a beautiful bridge from the Woodley Park Metro. Multiple Capital Bikeshare stations are nearby.

Gram-ability: 3 out of 5

  • It’s not the most hipster of coffee shops to shoot, but it will make your gram look smart with beautiful books in the background of that perfect coffee shot.

The Potter’s House on Google Maps

Peregrine at Union Market NE

Photo of the outside of Union Market

Union Market by @austinkgraff

Coffee: 4 out of 5

  • Peregrine recently transitioned their coffee from Counter Culture to locally roasted Small Planes Coffee (also from the owners of Peregrine). Some customers have noticed the change, but the quality is still up to par.

Vibe: 3 out of 5

  • It’s a coffee stand inside one of DC’s coolest indoor markets. If you go on a weekend, it’s crowded and you better pray it’s sunny outside so you can find a seat. However, if you go during the day (except when they close on Mondays), it’s a great spot to work. Free Wi-Fi and pastries for purchase from nearby Bluebird Bakery, you can’t go wrong.

Accessibility: 4 out of 5

  • NoMa Metro is a 10-minute walk, but most people drive as parking is free at Union Market. If you’re into biking, there is a Capital Bikeshare station right outside the market.

Gram-ability: 3 out of 5

  • Peregrine really isn’t gramable since it’s just a stand and chances are someone will sneak in your shot. However, Union Market is very picturesque with a simple white sign, plenty of food stands and soaring ceilings to keep the gram cool.

Peregrine Espresso on Google Maps

The Wydown on H Street NE

Inside the wydown coffee shop

The Wydown Coffee Shop by @austinkgraff

Coffee: 4 out of 5

  • The Wydown has their standard menu (espressos, lattes, etc.), but their baristas are experts and can create just about any coffee drink you can imagine.

Vibe: 4 out of 5

  • The Wydown has been called “a modern java bar.” It feels more like a cocktail bar than a coffee bar raising the standard of coffee shops everywhere. Despite not having Wi-Fi, they offer plenty of seating. Grab a spot at the bar or venture into The Apollo, the apartment building that houses The Wydown.

Accessibility: 3 out of 5

  • It’s on H Street NE where the Metro misses, but it’s on the end closer to Union Station. It’s a 14-minute walk or you can hop on the free streetcar to save your walking shoes.

Gram-ability: 4 out of 5

  • The Wydown is straight out of Charleston with its beautiful tiles and wooden floor below you and 1960s lights above you. Extra points if you sip on your coffee in The Apollo connected to The Wydown. It’s the most Instagrammed apartment building in the city.

The Wydown on Google Maps

Colony Club in Park View NW

Colony Club by @frenchieyankee

Coffee: 4 out of 5

  • They brew Ceremony Coffee from Annapolis, Maryland, a balanced coffee walking the line between smooth and rich.

Vibe:  4 out of 5

  • Colony Club is like your best friend. The first floor’s beauty invites you in and the second floor’s ping pong table shows you they know a fun time. The baristas are engaging and friendly and the free, strong Wi-Fi keeps you coming back.

Accessibility: 3 out of 5

  • If you don’t mind a brisk walk through a beautiful neighborhood, this place is for you. It’s a 10-minute walk from the Georgia Ave-Petworth Metro and an 11-minute walk from the Columbia Heights Metro.

Gram-ability: 4 out of 5

  • It’s mid-century modern, minimalist design mixed with perfect lighting ups your Instagram game. Extra points if you capture that latte art on the ping pong table upstairs.

Colony Club on Google Maps

Swings on 14th Street Downtown NW

Barista at Swing's coffee shop

Swing’s Coffee Shop by @austinkgraff

Coffee: 4 out of 5

  • Swings has been roasting coffee in nearby Alexandria for more than 100 years. It’s not as smooth as Ceremony Coffee, but it’s still a decent cup.

Vibe: 4 out of 5

  • Swings is in the bottom floor of an office building, but sterile it is not. It’s a very light, clean coffee shop with bar seating and a few tables off to the side. They offer free, strong Wi-Fi and pastries, including a good bagel.

Accessibility: 5 out of 5

  • It’s one of the closest coffee shops to The White House and only a 4-minute walk from the Metro Center station.

Gram-ability: 4 out of 5

  • Large floor to ceiling windows and a patterned tiled floor encourages you to get out that phone and gram away.

Swing’s Coffee on Google Maps

The Coffee Bar in Downtown NW

Barista at The Coffee Bar DC

The Coffee Bar by @austinkgraff

Coffee: 4 out of 5

  • The Coffee Bar proudly serves Annapolis based Ceremony Coffee. It’s smooth and full of flavor, especially their latte.

Vibe: 3 out of 5

  • It’s small. Physically small with only a few window seats and one long table in the center. Depending on the barista, sometimes you get served ice (and I’m not talking about in your latte), especially if you ask for the Wi-Fi password (they have none).

Accessibility: 5 out of 5

  • The Coffee Bar caters to the office workers of downtown DC and their hours speak to that (they close on weekends). It’s a 5-minute walk from the Farragut North Metro and even closer to the National Geographic building.

Gram-ability: 4 out of 5

  • They have a neon sign. Once cheesy, it’s now a staple of a good gram. Another mark of a good gram is photo worthy latte art and The Coffee Bar is an expert.

The Coffee Bar Neon Sign

The Coffee Bar on Google Maps

Maketto on H Street NE

Maketto by @frenchieyankee

Coffee: 4 out of 5

  • Nearby Vigilante Coffee roasts Maketto’s coffee and runs their coffee operation upstairs. It’s one of the best lattes in the city and is home to the most Instagrammed drink in the city, their matcha green tea.

Vibe: 5 out of 5

  • When Maketto first opened, it was the closest thing DC had to Brooklyn, New York. It’s the most minimalistic coffee shop in the city and in a cool neighborhood like H Street NE. If you want to feel cool, spend ten minutes here. There’s Wi-Fi, plenty of seats, and decently friendly baristas.

Accessibility: 3 out of 5

  • It’s a 25-minute walk from the closest Metro (Union Station). Unless you’re in need of more steps to beat your Fitbit challenge, hop on the free streetcar behind Union Station. It will take you right to Maketto.

Gram-ability: 5 out of 5

  • Again, think Brooklyn, New York. That alone means it’s super gram-worthy. White washed bricks and wood floor inside and an outdoor patio with perfectly placed string of lights. You’re cool just posting about it.

Maketto on Google Maps

La Colombe in Blagden Alley NW

La Colombe by @frenchieyankee

Coffee: 4 out of 5

  • The DC flagship location of Philadelphia roastery, La Colombe brews a good cup of coffee. If you have a sweet tooth, ask for the off the menu “sweet latte.” They’ll put out sweetened condensed milk in it changing your life forever.

Vibe: 4 out of 5

  • It’s in a historic alley. They give back to the world (They support charities like Charity Water). They are cool. All this makes up for the fact that they refuse to get Wi-Fi. Leave your computer at home and bring a book instead.

Accessibility: 5 out of 5

  • Metro to the Mt. Vernon Square Metro station and walk three minutes into the nearby alley. It sounds creepy, but you’ll soon realize you’ve stumbled upon one of DC’s hippest spots with top restaurants and a great coffee shop in La Colombe.

Gram-ability: 5 out of 5

  • Blagden Alley, the most photographed alley in DC, houses La Colombe. Open pipes, exposed brick wall, and a large garage door makes La Colombe worthy of a gram.

La Colombe on Google Maps

Little Pearl on Capitol Hill SE

Little Pearl Coffee Shop by @austinkgraff

Coffee: 5 out of 5

  • A coffee shop with a Vietnamese iced coffee, a banana latte, and house made white sesame and hazelnut milks can either be a prodigy or a farce. In this case, it proves they are one of DC’s top cafes.

Vibe: 4 out of 5

  • Little Pearl did an excellent job in creating an on-brand space using a historic cottage. It means they weren’t able to change the structure or layout of the building. Despite that, they create a clean vibe with a few classy quirks (check out the wallpaper in the bathroom to find the best one). Free Wi-Fi, indoor and outdoor seating, the vibe is fine.

Accessibility: 5 out of 5

  • Two blocks from the Eastern Market Metro station making it one of DC’s most accessible coffee shops.

Gram-ability: 4 out of 5

  • When our DC ancestors built this building many moons ago, they must have predicted Instagram would be a thing. The light is perfect and Little Pearl offers a large outdoor patio and indoor glass enclosed dining room to capture it.

Little Pearl on Google Maps


This list could easily be a top 25 list so leave a comment with a photo of your favorite coffee shop in the DMV! plus if you’re looking for more places to Instagram in DC read this list.

Posted By

Austin Graff

Growing up in Russia and Kazakhstan, Austin now proudly calls Washington, D.C. home. He works at The Washington Post during the day and explores the city at night with his wife and daughter as a Yelp Elite and Google Guide. Follow his adventures on Instagram.