The third wave of coffee first emerged as a movement that conceives of this drink as a craft from bean to brew. Now that coffeehouses have embraced the third wave coffee movement and it has become all the rage, it may be hard for coffee-lovers to find these sprouting coffeehouses, let alone distinguish the best among them. Especially in neighborhoods like Dupont Circle, where cafes seem to flank every street, finding a place that suits most needs — Wi-Fi, good seating, actual food service or even just high-quality coffee — proves to be quite an endeavor. However, a recent addition to Dupont Circle fulfills all of those needs and is worthy of recognition — Emissary.
Inspired by the Swedish notion of “fika,” which focuses on drinking coffee as an opportunity to contemplate and savor the moment alone or in the company of friends, Emissary provides ample seating within its spacious interior to do just that. Although the decor is not entirely warm and cozy, Emissary is sleek and clean in its design: The front of the house is open to natural lighting through large windows and the rooms in the back are intimately lit against the exposed brick and darkened wood fixtures. The free Wi-Fi, power outlets and sizable capacity lets visitors settle down to work, study or just relax.
What truly distinguishes Emissary from other coffee houses is its great ambition: combining a coffeehouse, a restaurant and a bar under the same roof. Especially exceptional is just how well Emissary excels in each of these ventures.
Owner Elias Hengst, himself a Georgetown graduate (GRD ’99), has a long history in the food industry. His first business venture dates back to 1998 when he met Constantine Stavropoulos, with whom he eventually co-founded his first coffeehouse, Tryst, in the hip Adams Morgan neighborhood. Eventually moving on to different enterprises — including opening a yoga studio above Emissary — that usually happen to be restaurant bars, Hengst’s newest project might be the culmination of his career thus far.
Showing extreme polish in its execution, service at Emissary is beyond that of a normal coffeehouse, with phenomenal presentation of both food and drink. Brought directly to your table, notable menu options are the teas and pour over coffees served on wooden platters and the vegetarian meals. All are offered at reasonable prices in spite of their extravagant plating. Emissary’s seasonal, modernist fare will remind you that it has the direction of a fine restaurant but also excellent coffee.
Emissary offers a tightly focused coffee menu, with traditional espresso drinks and pour over coffees. Many coffeehouses are now serving coffee from Counter Culture, one of the premier coffee providers in the area since the company’s arrival to D.C. in 2004.
Accompanied by a training center in Adams Morgan, their “cupping events,” or coffee tastings, are free for vendors and guests alike every Friday morning at 10 a.m. Providing a center for vendors to train their baristas in the basic crafts of coffee — espresso making, milk frothing and pour overs — you can expect high standards with any vendor of Counter Culture. As the baristas at Emissary are trained so thoroughly and scrupulously, they are sure to know how to serve up your favorite drink.
Emissary is located in Dupont Circle; accessible through the Dupont Circle Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle, it is a three-minute walk from the Dupont Metro stop.
Every Friday at 10 a.m., Counter Culture offers cupping events located in their D.C. regional training center at 3504 13th St. NW, Washington, D.C.
Anna Jorgensen and Jackie Liang are sophomores in the College. ON TAP appears every other Friday.