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broodings from the burrow

November 26, 2013

coffeeneuring without the coffee: part 1
posted by soe 1:43 am

Coffeeneuring, the third annual, seven-stop coffeeshop bike ride challenge, ran from early October to mid-November. I originally planned to share these stops as I did them, but that only worked for two of eight (#1 & #4), so I’ve reproduced them both in my extended event reports.

My rides split neatly in half by month, so below are the October rides:

Ride #1: Saturday, Oct. 5
Teaism, 2009 R St., N.W., Washington, D.C.
3.11 miles

Coffeenuring #1: Teaism

I started the weekend slowly, having slept past the event I’d planned to take part in on Saturday morning. I puttered for a while, did some chores, but failed to find any food that appealed. So, I thought, I could tie in my bike ride and coffee shop quest with a snack. By this point, it was later in the afternoon and my ride also had to include a stop at the garden, where my plants were awaiting water, parched after a week of sun and warm temperatures. Watering and picking vegetables takes time, though, even for such a small community garden spot as mine and by the time I finished up, it was getting close to 5.

My original hope for the day was to visit a coffeeshop (Bourbon) nearby that I hadn’t yet tried. I took the L Street cycletrack over to L, but they’d put away their food. No worries, I thought. There’s a second location of Filter over by GW, and my phone suggests it’s open until 6. Not, apparently, on weekends, when it isn’t open at all.

Fine. I can start this week with a known entity: Bread & Brew is on the way home and they have a nice outdoor deck and tasty bread pudding (even if their tea leaves something to be desired). As I pedal up the hill, I notice the windows are dark and the patio deserted. They, too, were closed.

By this point, I’d pretty much given up hope, but then realized sometimes your heart’s desire can indeed be found in your own backyard: Teaism in Dupont Circle is 1.5 blocks from my house, but after all the other shops I visited, I completed the day’s ride with 3.11 miles under my belt.

I celebrated with chai and naan, my teahouse version of tea and cinnamon toast and my default to-stay order at Teaism, on the bench outside the front door.

Ride #2: Oct. 16
Ava Marie Chocolate Cafe, 43 Grove St., Peterborough, N.H.
4.4 miles

During our half-week of camping in New Hampshire, we exercised the vacation exemption by taking a mid-week ride along the rail-trail in Peterborough.



We drove into town and parked the car, hopped on our bikes and rode up to where we’d seen the trail head. It was overcast, but comfortable, as we pedaled along. Eventually, the trail petered out, causing us to go hunting fruitlessly through fields and parking lots. We hopped back on the main road and took it to Ava Marie’s Chocolate Cafe, where we both ordered hot chocolate and pumpkin spice cupcakes.


The hot chocolate, as you might expect for drinks originating from a chocolatier, was delicious, topped with a mountain of whipped cream and a chocolate curlicue. The cupcakes also were tasty.


We concluded the ride with a tour of some fairy houses and a stop at a farmers market.


Ride #3: Oct. 19
Brewbakers Café, 97 Main St., Keene, N.H.
5.7 miles

We decided to spend our last afternoon in New Hampshire in Keene at their annual Pumpkin Festival.

Keene's Record-Breaking Pumpkin Festival

We’d seen there was a rail trail that lead through town, so the day before we’d stopped at a local bike shop to inquire about where to access it. Rudi started his ride from the campground, but I opted to join him at the trailhead with the car.

Clearly a Calvin & Hobbes Fan

It was probably only a mile from the start of the trail to town, where we locked our bikes. We wandered through the streets, looking at row after row of pumpkins.

Pumpkins & People

It was impressive to see the creative takes people had on jack o’lanterns and how no size or type of pumpkin was out of bounds. Orange, green, white, giant, and tiny — all were fair game for carving and decorating.

Creative Carving

They were everywhere. They covered tables on side streets. And shelves down the center of Main Street. And filled pocket parks and the verges.


And at the top of Main Street, they sat on a scaffolding that stood several stories tall.

Keene Pumpkin Festival Scaffold

Two hours before the height of the event, organizers, who’d spent all afternoon counting and marking jack o’lanterns, came over the PA system and asked festivalgoers to please pitch in and start lighting the pumpkins’ candles. They’d never get through all the gourds in time without help, they pleaded.

At the Keene Pumpkin Festival

Obviously, they did get them all lit eventually, because they reclaimed the Guinness record for most simultaneously lit jack o’lanterns with 30,581 entries.


We celebrated with hot drinks from Brewbakers Café, who had a disappointing tea menu for an independent coffeehouse. I had an Earl Grey and split an unremarkable biscotti with Rudi. We reclaimed our bikes and pedaled across downtown, dodging thousands of pedestrians as we tried to find where the trail picked back up again. We took it over the state highway before my knee, strained during our hike down Mount Monadnock two days earlier, started aching. We turned around and took a slow pace back to the car.

Ride #4: Oct. 27
Bar di Bari, 1401 R St., N.W., Washington, D.C.
3.2 miles

Coffeeneuring #4 - Bar di Bari

My original goal for this event was to explore unfamiliar shops, so for the final Coffeeneuring stop of October, I suggested we head to Bar di Bari, which opened over the summer on 14th Street.

Rudi chose a latte and I some Earl Grey tea and then we remembered we hadn’t eaten in a long time and decided to add some food to our excursion. I opted for a cheese plate and fresh bread, while Rudi picked out a mushroom turnover and salad. It was all delicious, and the waitress handled our desire to sit outside with good-natured poise, even though I’m sure her arms chilled every time she came out to the table.


We read a bit, then biked home as dusk descended over the city: a total of 3.2 miles over 21 minutes.

Stay tuned for the second part tomorrow, which includes four new-to-me coffeehouses in the District.

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