Ten months. So close to working at the same job for a full year. But last week I gave notice at Open City and accepted a job with Baked and Wired in Georgetown. B/W has been in business as a successful bakery for five years while doing a small coffee operation on the side. The owners recently decided to expand and improve the coffee side of the operation, upgrading their equipment and buying their beans from Counter Culture. They’ve hired me to be, for lack of an official title, the coffee and tea specialist to take them forward. In other words, I finally have a real job. (Hi, Mom!)
I’ll be working several days a week behind the bar, but will also be doing training, customer education, blend development, marketing, research, and generally improving the coffee program. As a primarily to go place with only paper cups, they have a long way to go, but they’ve already demonstrated a commitment to improving through their investments in equipment, beans, and staff. They’re also willing to target a select customer base rather than appeal to everyone. They eliminated 20 oz. espresso drinks, don’t have blenders, and don’t offer a bunch of flavored concoctions that distract from the coffee. With a Starbucks and a Barnes and Noble Cafe nearby, they’re aiming to succeed by being better.
(On the subject of focusing and limiting, I highly recommend this essay on the food weblog tastingmenu. What the author says about how a good restaurant should help its patrons enjoy a memorable dining experience translates well into the coffee world. American coffee drinkers tend to prefer the neutral and covered up rather than the complex and exposed. This is because they’re used to lousy coffee. Shops that offer better have some outreach to do if they’re going to build up a loyal customer base.)
In addition to the creative freedom the job offers, my life will be personally improved by getting better pay, being on salary, and getting weekends off. Getting up at 4:30 am on Sundays to go to work is a lifestyle choice I’ve been ok with, but it’s not one I’m going to miss. Proximity to the best beer bar in DC is another nice bonus.
B/W is located at 1052 Thomas Jefferson St., a half block toward the water from the Barnes and Noble on M. Currently closed on weekends, open from 7-6 Monday through Friday. The place has free wi-fi but seating is currently limited. Folks on Don Rockwell dig the baked goods.