Specialty coffee roasters continue to fuel Little City patrons
On any given morning, one can find a sea of open laptops and multicolored saucers smattered across the bistro tables at Rare Bird Coffee Roasters. Tucked into a row of storefronts along the main stretch of Broad Street, Rare Bird is anchored by a giant roaster at the front of the shop which, on Tuesdays, is operated by workers making a new batch. This hub of activity is a far cry from the warehouse owners Lara Berenji and Bryan Becker started out of in Northeast D.C.
“We were only open to the public the first and last Saturdays of the month, and people were really frustrated because they wanted more,” Berenji said. And, she adds, they were roasting and brewing coffee in their home before the warehouse. They received great reception at open houses, and eventually decided to open a shop. That was a little over two years ago, in October 2016. They decided on Falls Church City because, she explained, “there was a need for specialty coffee roasters, and the rent is cheaper [than in D.C.].”
What makes Rare Bird different from the big chain coffee stores? Most notably, it’s their fair and sustainable buying and processing practices. “We source all of our coffee responsibly, which is really high on our list as far as goals for our company,” Berenji said. The store’s beans come in unique varieties from interesting origins, and most roasts are single origin, meaning they don’t produce many blends like you might see at a Starbucks or Peet’s. Their processing method is designed to emphasize this coffee’s aromas. All options are also light to medium roast and come from high quality green coffee.
While all this might sound too fancy for the average morning coffee drinker, Berenji and Becker want to assure current and potential customers that their goal is not to cater strictly to coffee connoisseurs. “We love welcoming anyone, [whether it’s] someone who’s really into coffee, or someone who’s just curious, or someone who just wants a regular cup of coffee,” Berenji said. The café’s vibe is laid back and cozy, and anyone can enjoy a coffee or specialty drink and a bakery item from their small selection of food.
Additionally, Rare Bird supports local artists with in-store features. Art shows rotate every three months, with every transition prompting an opening event at the café. Nearby students are also featured in two-week presentations that further highlight local talent. You have to come into the shop to see the art, but to get your hands on some Rare Bird coffee, that might not be necessary.
There are several retail locations around the D.C. area, and customers can order their favorite roasts online. Even more conveniently, Rare Bird offers a subscription service that allows participants to receive one to six bags of coffee every two weeks. The first batch is shipped the day after roasting for maximum freshness. Those looking to buy large quantities can contact the store for wholesale information. Although, emphasized Berenji, “Our main focus is reaching out and talking to people in person.”
Rare Bird Coffee Roasters is located at 230 West Broad Street and is open weekdays from 6:30 am to 5 pm, and weekends from 8 am to 5 pm.