Washington, D.C. is one of the best cities in America to spend a week vacation. Between the food, the architecture, and the untold number of museums, travelers to the nation’s capital are never in want for things to do. It’s the sort of city where any time spent in the hotel room is time wasted. And that’s the conceit behind the POD Hotel in Penn Quarter. You don’t go to places like DC to hang out in a hotel room, so why pay a lot of money for amenities you never use?
But one amenity that is absolutely necessary is coffee. That’s why POD Hotels teamed up with Virginia-based Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co. for Crimson, a coffee bar/whiskey bar/high-end Southern comfort diner on the bottom floor of the DC hotel. Now weary sojourners can get fueled up before a day of exploring all the history the District has to offer, all from the convenience of their current home away from home. Doing that fueling are beautiful custom copper Modbar espresso modules serving a variety of coffees from Blanchard’s, sure to appease every type of coffee drinker. So while you’re going to want to spend as little time in the hotel as possible, if you’re staying at the POD Hotel in Washington, D.C., maybe carve out a few extra minutes for coffee at Crimson.
As told to Sprudge by Stephen Robertson.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co. is a Richmond, Virginia based coffee roaster founded in 2005 by David Blanchard. Blanchard’s mission is to build community and industry resilience through sustainable sourcing, thoughtful roasting, and honoring humanity from farm to cup. Primarily a wholesale roaster, BCRC works with retailers and brewers alike to bring excellent, sustainable coffee to customers throughout the mid-Atlantic region and beyond, as well as running a vibrant web-store serving customers throughout the USA.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
Crimson is a multiple-level partnership beginning with DC’s first POD Hotel by Modus, partnering with well known local restauranteurs, Ian & Eric Hilton, to develop a three part food/beverage concept on the lobby and basement floors of the hotel.
The POD Hotel model is to place a beautifully designed hotel in a prime city location featuring very small, yet well appointed rooms at an affordable price point, with the idea that if you’re staying in the middle of a vibrant city, there is no need for a large, lavish hotel room—get out of the room and go explore. The first part of that exploration begins on the ground floor of the hotel, where there is an expansive whiskey bar downstairs, an upscale diner upstairs, and a full coffee shop front and center that serves the restaurants, hotel guests, and general public alike.
The coffee shop, along with the two restaurants, is airy and sleek, while still maintaining a soft, southern charm with the juxtaposition of clean lines, soft finishes, and copper fixtures.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Our passion is great coffee, simply put. We work constantly to source the best possible coffee, sustainably, and roast to best highlight each coffees best attributes. We combine that roasting philosophy with a deep focus on education. We have a SCA certified trainer on staff, as well as two Q Arabica graders, and our entire staff is in the process of earning Barista I certification.
We believe everyone deserves a great cup of coffee without pretense. Modern specialty coffee often runs the risk of becoming a bit precious, and though we fully believe our coffees are precious—we are aware that not everyone needs or wants that experience. With Crimson, and all of our partners, we strive to create a menu that will please just about every type of coffee drinker. We offer three batch brews: a daily blend, in the case of Crimson, a blend we call Handshake—a little bit of depth on the roast to highlight sweetness and drinkability; a rotating, approachable single origin—always something that provides more complexity than the blend, but is still a palate pleaser for most people; and an outstanding Swiss Water Process Decaf—because if you have to drink decaf, it should at least taste great.
Our espresso menu is simple and traditional—no surprises—we feature our Rosedale in our espresso beverages—a bright, sweet espresso with floral and soft fruit notes that sweeten with milk, or shine simply as an espresso. Finally, we offer a rotating single origin for hand pours and S/O espressos. This coffee is generally more fruit forward and geared toward more adventurous palates.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We are really excited about the equipment package we put together for this location. The centerpiece of the coffee bar is a three group custom copper Modbar setup paired with a Mahlkönig PEAK espresso grinder and a copper Mahlkonig EKK43. We’re also featuring Monarch Methods copper kettles and Hario copper drippers, as well as all Acaia scales.
We are featuring Modbar, not only for functionality, but for their incredible design and countertop presence, which suits the sleek lines of this coffee bar.
We’re using FETCO equipment for our batch brew, and we have single origin nitro cold brew on tap as well.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
The location opened the last week of June.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
The stellar architecture, design, and build-out have all been through Modus and POD Hotel—and they have done an outstanding job brining our equipment plan and layout to life.
Photos by Cameron Charles Lewis