Happy holidays, everyone!
I hope these past days have been relaxing. Since I had spent the past three months at college, where unfortunately I could not leave campus due to coronavirus safety concerns, I had only stuck to my usual breakfast blend Keurig coffee cups. While I enjoyed my Mini white Keurig and splurged on hot chocolate and Starbucks seasonal coffee towards the end of my time there, I got bored of the usual and had not tasted any lattes in months. Note that lacking interesting coffee to sip did not appear on my list of my biggest concerns this past year, but I told myself that once I came home I would treat myself to those small drinks that sometimes make all the difference when finishing finals.
Thankfully, my friend Brandon and I got to see each other after months apart, and since we both love a good cup of coffee, we decided that we would go to unique coffeeshops apart from the typical chain brands. We carefully selected them and tried their regular coffee and a speciality of theirs while adhering to all COVID related laws. When possible, we sat outside to sip on our drinks or sat in the car chatting and listening to mellow music. Below, we embody our inner food critic and evaluate these coffees for you all.
Note: We did try a few other coffeeshops not included in this post, partly because they either had bland coffee or they were part of bigger chains.
Occasionally when we remembered, we rated each subcategory (quality, price, and overall) using a scale of 1-5 and recorded ourselves evaluating each coffee right after we drank them. Trust us, our commentary went for about two minutes on each, but we’ve extracted our best quotes to give each the right summary needed. Enjoy!
Arlington, VA (Rosslyn) | compasscoffee.com
With a high-end feel and modern aesthetic, Compass Coffee has spacious location ready for long coffee dates, conferences, and remote working. Pandemic protocols did not complicate the coffee ordering nor pick-up, yet, of course, the place required face masks when not drinking. Brandon ordered a coffee and added nothing to it, as per usual, while I splurged on a gingerbread latte. We sat down on the second floor of the building in a secluded and empty room adorned with foreign art.
Brandon: I’m going to give my coffee a 4. I got an Americano and it was a solid Americano. I also tried [Victoria’s] gingerbread latte and it was not for me, but that’s okay because I’m not a latte guy.
Victoria: As a person that loves lattes, I would give it a 3.5. I thought it was very well done. I love the froth and everything. I think that if someone was new to the latte world, and they didn’t like a lot of coffee, this is very strong coffee flavor so I would not recommend this for a newbie.
Brandon: It was about 9 dollars total for two coffees that weren’t that great. It was not worth the money.
Victoria: This was 4.95 which is basically 5 dollars for a small! If you were to see this, it was teeny, teeny tiny. So, I’m going to say not worth the money. It’s a little bit overcharged. If this was 3 [dollars] or 3.50, I would say okay.
Overall, we came to the conclusion that while the coffee servings appeared very small for their price, this coffeeshop would serve as an ideal place to host a mini get-together or conference. The professional and modern atmosphere makes it a productive workspace and a unique place to stay for a bit.
Washington, D.C. (Rhode Island Ave) | bluestonelane.com
This small shop should mistake no one into thinking this place lacks all the essentials and more of a place to sip, savor, and see the often bustling Rhode Island Avenue. Filled with plants, ample seating room (even during this time), and a crisp, clean feel, Bluestone Lane awes its guests with the attentiveness to transforming the coffeeshop experience. Suitable for any occasion, including our casual excursion, this Australian brand took us by surprise with its fancy drinks and its mind-blowing iced latte speciality drink made with vanilla ice cream.
Brandon: I got a long black, which is just the Bluestone Lane version of an Americano. It was pretty good as far as Americano’s go, and I tried Victoria’s ice cream latte thing and it was very good.
Victoria: I got an iced latte with vanilla ice cream… I don’t remember the name of my drink, but it was delicious! They gave me a spoon so I was able to eat the ice cream. I’m finishing up with a straw. It was SO good. I got a small and this is a really big small. This is not your Starbucks tall. This is your taller-than-the-tall. I’m really impressed and so happy.
Brandon: It was pretty cheap, honestly. The ice cream thing was pretty legit and it was still under 10 dollars total.
Victoria: We paid a lot more [at other places] for a lot smaller sizes.
To sum it up, this coffeeshop fulfills all your needs and more. In fact, Brandon actually said it was nearly perfect (wow!). When it comes to atmosphere and Australian hospitality, they nailed it. Also notably, it has indoor and outdoor seating. To sit inside, one must have their temperature taken and fill out a form online making sure they have not displayed any coronavirus symptoms. From observing the acute care for its customers, Brandon and I definitely plan to return soon.
Live Oak Coffeeshop
Midland, MI | liveoakcoffeeshop.com
Far from D.C., Brandon and I travel to his hometown in Midland, Michigan safely by car (all social distancing and COVID protocol followed, we promise!). Here, we landed upon Live Oak Coffeeshop, a quaint place with a cute drive-thru, taking all the right health precautions for this season. From ordering online to pulling up to this bohemian place, we had nothing but an amazing experience.
Brandon: I give it a 4 for overall drink. It wasn’t a crazy Americano, but it was a good.
Victoria: I give this a 5 because this is one of the best chai lattes that I’ve ever had in my whole life. I don’t know what else to say other than that.
Brandon: I give a 5 for price. For both drinks, it was 8 dollars, which is a full dollar below what we normally pay.
Victoria: I give it a 5.
In conclusion, the price fits the drink. I loved my chai latte. After trying so many in my lifetime, I declare that Live Oak has the best one. Brandon and I look forward to entering the coffeeshop one day, but we most definitely will return to its drive-thru.
Thank you for reading! If you prefer other drinks to coffee, adventure with all those different frapuccinos and lattes that change their flavors with the season. Of course, hot chocolate tastes phenomenal during this time of year, and to those with a sweet tooth and looking to satisfy their craving, I recommend stopping by a pastry shop. Brandon and I did and it felt great sharing a huge slice of German Blackforest alongside my hot chocolate and his coffee.
Wishing you all a restful couple of weeks!
Reduce the often expensive price for coffee and other savory treats! When ordering coffee, download the company’s app (if applicable) to get discounts or even receive a free coffee! Aside from coffee, McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A offer a TON of discounts on their app, so definitely consider mobile ordering for a cheaper visit.