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Great Coffee Shop Hunt: Le Pain Quotidien

January 4, 2012

Yes, a chain coffee shop. But hear me out.

Sometimes you have to get coffee from a chain. Maybe you’re traveling. Maybe there just isn’t an independent coffeehouse near your office (as several people mentioned on Twitter yesterday). Maybe you just reallllly need hours of free WiFi and don’t want to mooch off a mom-and-pop shop for an entire day.

Also, some chain coffee shops have great coffee. I love Caribou Coffee unashamedly. And, yes, I still stop in Starbucks occasionally when it’s close by and I’m in a rush — although now that Starbucks is raising its prices, it’s a great time to break that habit.

All of this brings me to Le Pain Quotidien, where I stopped for a quick cafe au lait yesterday afternoon. This French cafe is known for its baked goods, incredible spreads (I want to eat its Brunette praline spread with a spoon) and communal tables. In very DC fashion, the K Street location only has one communal table while pockets of people gather for meetings at more private seats.

How’s the coffee? Good.. but I would have preferred a real mug. I was told that to have a ceramic mug, I had to sit down for table service… but I was welcome to sit at a bistro table by the window with a to-go cup. When you only have a few minutes but want to sit and relax, it’s a shame to get stuck with a landfill-clogging paper cup.

Le Pain Quotidien is great for a casual brunch but for just coffee, I’ll keep trying new places. After all, if I really wanted chain coffee on a regular basis, there’s a Caribou just across the street…

Have you noticed increased Starbucks prices in your area?

13 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2012 9:26 am

    I think it’s 10 cents on the tall but not sure. I prefer Caribou to Starbucks too and will probably stick with them. Makes me miss the Dunkin’ Donuts in my neighborhood though…

    • January 4, 2012 10:31 am

      Yes, it’s just a small price increase but will add up to major revenue for Sbux. And am I the only person who doesn’t like DD coffee?

  2. January 4, 2012 10:19 am

    I hate how most places automatically assume you want a to-go cup! Coffee is best enjoyed in oversized mugs/bowls

  3. January 4, 2012 10:32 am

    Wait they didn’t give you a mug? I absolutely adore this place (well especially cause I basically live across the street from the dupont one) But anyway, sipping their cafe au lait out of their latte bowls is one of my favorite things. I think you need a do-over! 🙂

    • January 4, 2012 10:46 am

      They said I had to sit down for table service if I wanted a real mug — boo. But I do usually love the size-of-your-face latte mugs.

      (and we must be neighbors, because I live 2 blocks from the Dupont location.)

  4. Life's a Bowl permalink
    January 4, 2012 5:14 pm

    Increased Sbucks prices?! On all drinks? I haven’t noticed anything but that’s probably because I just use my Sbucks card and don’t pay attention- shameful, I know [ha]!

    • January 4, 2012 5:30 pm

      Only about 1% (so .10 on at tall latte) — mainly (or only?) in the northeast.

  5. January 4, 2012 7:22 pm

    I heard about the Starbucks increase on the radio, but haven’t seen it for myself. It’s in Atlanta too.

  6. January 4, 2012 9:26 pm

    We stopped at a few over Starbucks the last few months (hangs head in shame) on the road and I haven’t noticed the price increases. Like you, I love the smaller independent places. We had coffee one morning at a small place in Madrid NM that was just amazing. The coffee was ok but the atmosphere was worth every penny. I think you would have loved it.

    • January 4, 2012 9:49 pm

      No shame! Especially on road trips, sometimes it’s the easiest option. You’re probably seeing lots of cute places when you’re in towns, though.

  7. January 4, 2012 9:34 pm

    Very strange not to give you a mug?? But the atmosphere sounds lovely and I’m sure the coffee was heavenly… I’m motivated to get off the beaten track and try a few new places. I tend to go to the same places all the time!


  1. A Classic European Breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien | Seattle Foodshed

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