On Monday, I jumped in my car and headed over to Caffe Aficionado, computer in tow – they have WiFi. Even though the streets were nearly devoid of traffic pre-Christmas, parking in Rosslyn was still nearly impossible. After about ten minutes of driving around, a car pulled out, just one block away – perfect! I paid for one hour forty-five minutes of parking, thinking that was going to be way too much time; I was wrong.
I was taken back by just how small Caffe Aficionado is. It’s a tiny little pillbox, but with the most perfect, minimalist decor you could hope for. It has several tables, and a bar running along the front window. Given the lack of (inexpensive) parking, and lack of seating, this can probably never be a “destination” coffee shop.
Unless, of course, you’re me because I plan on making Caffe Aficionado part of my regular routine, and I don’t care how much trouble it takes to get here. I’m going by memory on these prices which are close, but may not be exact.
I walked into an empty shop, dazzled by the interior design – the design of subtraction – and ordered a Cappuccino ($3.75). Gathered around the register was what might have been a family, with the most charming, polite young child helping the register. I gave a $10, and only took $5 back, wishing the child Happy Holidays.
Taking a seat along the window bar, a couple minutes later, the barrista walked over and handed me the most *beautiful* Cappuccino. I walked up to the “fixin’s bar” – tiny, but well-equipped with everything from organic sugar to simple syrup – sprinkled a little sugar atop my Cappuccino, and nursed it for a good thirty minutes.
At cup bottom, there remained some froth which I quietly put to my mouth and skimmed off (the sugar was still on top of it), then decided I didn’t want to leave yet. So I went back up and ordered an Iced Chai ($3.75), handing them my $5, and putting the $1.25 into the tip jar (if I’m going to use their WiFi, I’m going to tip).
Again, the barrista came over with the most delicious iced beverage I’ve had in quite some time. It was so good that it scared me because it certainly wasn’t calorie-free, and I could drink about ten of these things. I forced myself to sip it s-l-o-w-l-y, again over the course of probably thirty minutes, as I worked and wrote. Wow did this drink hit the spot.
I’d been there a good hour, and still wasn’t ready to leave, so I went back again and ordered an Iced Tea ($2.75), this time adding a little simple syrup. Somewhere in this drink – either from the tea itself, or possibly from an infused simple syrup – there were some chai-like spices which added a nice undertone, and eliminated any bitterness from the drink.
After about ninety minutes, I decided it was time to move on, so took the rest of my tea with me. I should add that during this time, the staff came over and checked on me probably three or four times – making sure I was comfortable, pointing out the condiments, asking me if I needed anything – these are some of the friendliest people I’ve met in a coffee shop, or for that matter, anywhere else.
In the Dining Guide, restaurants are ranked by geographical location according to one very simple criterion: “If someone else was paying (i.e., if money were not an object), where would I want to be?” It’s a given that initial coverage of Caffe Aficionado is in Italic (this is not a close call), but can I really say I’d rather be here than Guajillo, or Ray’s To The Third? Can I rightfully place this at the very top of all Rosslyn restaurants when “all it is” is a coffee shop?
Well, I may change my mind after thinking about this some more (after all, it is *much* easier to run a coffee shop than it is a restaurant), but for now, Caffe Aficionado sits all alone, atop Rosslyn. Even if this ranking is temporary, hopefully it will draw attention to what is one of the finest coffee shops in the area. I love this place, and you will, too.