At Qualia, we adhere to the philosophy that coffee should be treated like fresh produce. When roasted properly, coffee peaks in flavor between three and five days after being roasted. After nine or ten days, the coffee’s natural flavors begin to rapidly dissipate. Due to these factors, we sell all our coffee directly to the end-user to ensure they get it within this short freshness window. Unlike other coffee roasters, we are not forced to compromise the roasting process to extend the shelf life or impose artificial consistency on our coffee. We seek only to bring out the natural complexity and richness of each of our carefully sourced single-origin coffees.
We are currently seeking roasting interns to train under our owner and roastmaster. This is an unpaid internship, but not free labor. You will receive a comprehensive coffee education, including lectures and tasting sessions in addition to an hour or two of roaster training. The coffee you roast will not be sold to customers. You will also have access to a copious amount of free coffee. The purpose of the internship is to both educate participants as well as to serve as a talent search. At the end of the internship, which will last approximately eight hours spread over several sessions, one or two interns will be offered paid part-time roasting positions to start.
Because interns will be eligible for a paid position, applicants should:
Have a deep and abiding interest in coffee as a natural product.
Be available to work at least 3 days a week. including some weekends.
Be willing to commit at least one year to working for the company (PT or FT)
Be diligent, patient, focused and have an eye for detail.
Please email us at QualiaCoffee@gmail.com to arrange an interview. In your message, let us know how you meet the above criteria.
Join Qualia Coffee and Whisked Bakery for a one-day, Twin Peaks themed event featuring “The Best Coffee&Pie in Washington.”
Maybe, maybe not. We think it is fair to argue we have the best coffee in DC, but that does not necessarily make us the best coffee shop. People look for many different things in a coffee shop, some don’t even come for the coffee. We are happy to be consistently counted among our friends in the coffee community moving the ball forward on quality and helping to improve the lives of the coffee growers we all support. It seems unlikely that Qualia will ever win a readers poll. Our location counts against us as does the fact that we have one storefront. In the grand scheme of things, few people have experienced Qualia. That said, it is immensely gratifying that in 2012 and 2013, The Washington City Paper recognized us in their Best of DC issues for the excellence we strive everyday to achieve.
Can’t make it to one of our twice monthly free tastings, now you can make your own tasting, any time. We offer personalized tasting flights for one to three people. You pick three of our coffees and we’ll brew them up in these miniature versions of our house carafes so that you can compare, contrast and savor them at you leisure. We are currently offering the tasting flights at an introductory price of $8. Please be aware that during high-traffic times of day, flights may take up to 15 minutes.
In our search for a good travel mug, we tested ceramic, glass, steel, double- and single-walled designs, and found that this tumbler from Grosche had the best heat retention of them all. It also has a good seal between the silicone lid and glass, and the glass itself, while not unbreakable is pretty damn tough. Sure, it lacks the complete fake-takeaway-cup look, but it will fit in your cupholder. We currently carry them in both 12 and 15 ounce sizes, $11.50 and $14 respectively. They also look great with our reusable sleeves. We also have a small supply of French presses from the same glass maker.
We offer public coffee tastings the second and fourth Sunday of every month. These tastings are an opportunity to try three different single-origin coffees side-by-side while learning about where each of the coffees come from and what makes each unique. At Qualia, we believe that a focus on brewed coffee is the best way to highlight the wide variety of natural flavors that coffee naturally exhibits. Our tastings are a great way to build your experience with different coffees. The tasting run from 2:00 to 2:30. They are held in the roasting room at the back of the shop and they are free.
Qualia Coffee is a full-service coffee shop that also serves as the home of Fresh Off the Roast, a small-batch coffee roasting company dedicated to sourcing recently harvested beans from around the world. We strive to provide as much information as possible about where the beans come from and what you can expect them to taste like. Our coffee is also available through select farmers markets. We sell all our beans directly to customers so that we can ensure you get them at the peak of freshness.
Whisked Bakery will be back next Sunday (December 2) to take over our food offerings for the day. They will once again feature a selection of their hand-made sweet and savory pies by the slice. Order pies on-line if you want a whole pie or stop by to place your Christmas order.
Fresh Off the Roast was born at a farmers market and these weekly produce pop-ups are still the only place to find our coffee beans outside the storefront. Our dedication to freshness dictates that we sell all our beans within three days of roasting. So you will never find them on the shelves in grocery stores where beans can languish for days, weeks or even months.
Unfortunately, many farmers markets in DC do not admit coffee vendors. There is even a WaPo article about it: Purist Farmers Markets Shun Coffee Vendors. (This situation could change if customers demand it. We have politely asked many, many times, to no avail.)
That said, Fresh Off the Roast beans are currently available at the following DC-area farmers markets:
American University Farmers Market (Wednesdays 11-4, Available from partners Upper Crust Breads)
Columbia Heights Community Marketplace (Runs May 4-December 14, 2013)
Brookland Farmers Market (Available from partners Upper Crust Breads)
Petworth Community Market (Started May 3, 2013)
The Farmers Market at Maryland (Available from partners Upper Crust Breads)
We are looking for other markets to attend, so please contact us if you would like to add a coffee vendor for your customers: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will be open Thanksgiving morning. Our special holiday hours are as follows:
Wednesday Nov. 21 OPEN from 7:30AM to 6:00 PM
Thursday Nov. 22 OPEN from 8:00AM to 12:00PM
Friday Nov. 23 OPEN from 9:00AM to 6:00PM
Pre-ordered Whisked pies will be available for pick up on November 20 and 21 after 11AM. See details and ordering information here.
Sunday, November 11, we will be hosting a day-long pie extravaganza. The fine ladies of Whisked! bakery will be serving up slices of their sweet and savory pies and taking your holiday orders for whole pies (which you can pick up at Qualia). Or place your order for a whole pie on their web site here.
Wifi will be turned off for this event.
We now have handbags and carryalls made by women in Nicaragua. The bags are made from the jute sacks that are used to transport green coffee from origin to the U.S. and bare the logo of Gold Mountain Coffee Growers.
As a social enterprise, Gold Mountain Coffee Growers, LLC conducts social projects in order to empower coffee producers, their families and their communities. 100% of the profits from the sale of these bags are used to fund social projects in coffee producing communities. These projects include free computing classes, scholarships. medical assistance, micro-loans to female coffee producers during the off season and small libraries for rural schools.
We are selling the bags in several styles for $25. The bags are handmade, so each one is unique.
During roasting, coffee changes from a dense, green seed into friable, brown bean. The beans not only change color during this process, but lose moisture and expand considerably in size. Depending on the roasting method, this transformation can take just a few minutes or a full half-hour. This deceptively simple process actually involves a fascinating interplay of chemical and physical reactions that liberates hundreds of flavor compounds and reveals immense complexity when brewed. And even after roasting thousands of pounds of coffee, I find this transformation a fascinating process that unravels only bit-by-bit.
Almost invariably when folks wander beyond the coffee bar into the roasting room and see the roaster (which describes both the man and the machine), they also become entranced by the roasting process, by the transformation of the beans (many never having seen unroasted coffee before), the site, the smell and a sudden new layer of knowledge about what they have been drinking all these years. While that wonder is gratifying to us, we also understand that most people, with a more casual interest in the process itself, hanging around the roasting room for 20 minutes or more to see the whole process from start to finish can get a bit dull. So, we have put together a fantastic little film that documents the whole process in just over a minute. So enjoy:
It’s a question that we at Qualia Coffee find ourselves asking too often. Is it because local chefs, otherwise so concerned with the quality of their ingredients, don’t see coffee as a culinary element of the meal? Or is it because restaurants generally delegate coffee brewing to the wait staff, who don’t have the time or training to treat coffee with the care needed to brew it properly? Or maybe, it’s the fact that customers don’t complain when they get a bad cup of coffee, so why bother making the effort to brew it well? Whatever the reason, it’s a little unsettling how many of DC’s fine eating establishments are content to end an exquisitely conceived meal with a poorly made cup of coffee.
We’d like to see this change. That’s why we have launched an effort to convince a handful of local fine-dining establishments, those that otherwise take great care to source local, high-quality ingredients, to consider serving beans produced in house by our roasting label, Fresh Off the Roast. Here is our challenge to DC’s restaurant, give us ten minutes of your time and we will brew you a cup of coffee in your restaurant with our portable coffee kit. If you don’t agree that it is distinctly better than your house brew, we will give you three pounds of our beans to do with as you see fit. However, if you like what you taste, we can show you how with a little time and care, you can be serving coffee that really compliments the rest of the food you serve.
If you would like to take us up on our challenge, contact us at QualiaCoffee@gmail.com.
No, they’re not a mythological creature, but a brand new currency that ensures the continued flow of great coffee and offers a much needed hang-over cure to a world drunk on credit. Anytime and anywhere you use a credit or debit card, the merchant pays both a flat transaction fee and a percentage of the transaction to a processing company for the privilege of accepting plastic. Since merchants are restricted by the credit card companies from adding a processing surcharge, this cost gets rolled into the base price of all items, which means that those who pay cash effectively subsidize those who use plastic.
For merchants whose business consists largely of daily transactions that are small – say, a $2 cup of coffee – the percentage transaction fee isn’t a big deal, but the flat transaction fee takes up a staggering portion of a small purchase.
We understand that debit and credit cards have become a de facto modern electronic currency. Therefore, as a compromise between those that only carry plastic, and our desire to not fork out nearly the entirety of our meagre margin on a single cup of hot coffee to our lords in the credit card processing industry, we have deployed a house currency called the Quale-Buck (pronounced like the bird)
Quale-bucks are as good as cash, dollar for dollar. You can request that we charge your debit or credit card for an excess of your transaction, and we will give you that excess in Quales that you can use any time in the future (say, for a $2 cup of hot coffee). They also work great as gift certificates.
Quales are currently issued and accepted at our shop, Qualia Coffee, in Petworth.
While it is a lower-tech version of a store gift card that doesn’t require card scanners or a database, Quales do employ a number of techniques to resist copying (you’ll have to figure out for yourself what they are).
We here at Qualia Coffee would be ecstatic if other coffee shops or merchants in the Petworth or DC area would be interested in utilizing the Quale-Buck (or a renamed version) as a community currency. Giving customers currency that inspires them to visit other independent shops in the city grows the exposure of local businesses and specialty coffee, which enriches us all. Please contact us if you are interested.
This Saturday marks the last BikeHouse Repair Clinic, not only of the season, but at Qualia Coffee. Next year, the friendly crew of volunteers will be moving their operations to the soon-to-be-opened Annie’s Ace Hardware at 1240 Upshur Street.
It has been a wonderfully rewarding three years as both Qualia and the BikeHouse have grown side-by-side. We will be sad to see them go, but look forward to their continued growth and success.
The BikeHouse Repair Clinic will run from 12 to 3 and is located behind the coffeehouse. Bring your bike and any parts that need to be replaced and they will provide the tools and knowledge to guide you. See you there.
In our quest to stay on the cutting edge of coffeeshop service, we have added a new option to our bagel preparation methods. For a mere $∞, we’ll cut your bagel in two interlinked halves.
Qualia Coffee’s in-house label is Fresh Off The Roast, and descriptions of our current and past beans can be found on the Bean Blog, where you can also find online purchasing links.
Our in-stock beans are also listed on the right hand side of this site.
Today we’re hosting the Fojol Brothers Benethiopia food truck, serving beef berbere, beets, and carrots&peas, all with injera of course. Come by and grab some lunch.
Tomorrow is a federal holiday! To accommodate, we’d like to ask all laptop users to use the upstairs or outside, and we’ll be turning off the internet from 11 to 4 tomorrow.
Georgetown Bagelry (formerly in Georgetown, now baking out of Bethesda, Maryland) have supplied excellently-made bagels to Qualia since it’s inception. We offer them with cream cheese or house-made hummus.
Panorama, a dozen-person shop in Virginia, supplies us with croissants, muffins, and the occasional sourdough loaf for toast.
Under DC health code, only service animals may enter the coffeeshop, but we do have a front porch and backyard with a few seats and water bowls for pooches. There’s also a tin of dog treats around here somewhere.
You can get to the backyard by using one of the alleys on Randolph or Shepherd Streets.