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With a wandering eye for the new and bold, our Build-Outs of Summer series continues today with a look at La Mano Coffee Bar, set to open this September in Washington DC. For new cafe owners, the process is never easy – the late nights, the permits, the set-backs, the rigamarole – but the path towards opening day has been particularly circuitous for the owners at La Mano, who’ve undergone all manner of permitting and electric company shenanigans during their build-out phase. The final push towards their opening was crowdfunded on IndieGoGo, and has been covered by local DC publications like The Voice and PoPville. Let’s learn more about La Mano Coffee Bar.

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Photo by Michael Owsianny.

Can you tell us a bit about your new space?

We are La Mano Coffee Bar, located in the historic Takoma neighborhood of northern Washington, DC. We’re located on a small commercial walking corridor that is bookended by the Takoma metro stop and the main street of Takoma Park, Maryland, also known as “The Berkeley of the East Coast”.

We started the initial process in Sept 2012. The property was an abandoned shell for several years until we found it. We have installed new plumbing, floors, ceiling, and a loft space. Our biggest holdup came this summer when the local electric company issued a confusing series of service upgrades, which led to a surprise large fee for us. To account for this, we raised $15,000 in an online crowdsourcing campaign ( mostly from folks in the neighborhood to help us finish up the construction costs and cover the expenses that we racked up while being delayed. This says a lot about the people that live here and people who want to see this neighborhood get better.

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In the meantime we have been hosting popup coffee stands at local businesses in the neighborhood, which helped us maintain a presence and build our brand, and keep people interested.

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Photo by Michael Owsianny.

What’s your approach to serving coffee?

As our name indicates, we value making coffee and other foods by hand. We enjoy the labor and celebrating the techniques behind coffee extraction, the presentation aspect of it, and the communal act of sharing that process and the final product with others. Again, this is a nod to the neighborhood and all the people that are eager to be a part of that process, too.

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Photo by Nguyen Khoi Nguyen.

Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?

We’ll be opening with a 2-group La Marzocco Linea, Compak espresso grinders, Mahlkonig grinder for filter coffee, Hario v60 drippers, Chemex, and electric gooseneck kettles for individual pour overs. We also have enlisted the help of local artists for custom welded pourover stands, bar furniture, signage, and interior design.

We have partnered with Ceremony Coffee in Annapolis as our wholesale supplier and have a wonderful relationship with them since they are only about 30 minutes away from us! Our plan is to serve either their Mass Appeal or Destroyer blends for espresso, plus rotating Ceremony single origins for pour over.

We’ll also be doing some baking in house with a convection oven to make sweet and savory pastries and other handheld baked goods.

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Artist in residence Mei Mei Chang painting La Mano’s gorgeous interior mural. Photo by Nguyen Khoi Nguyen.

What’s your hopeful target opening month? What’s the address?
September 2013, and we’re located at 304 Carroll St NW, Washington, D.C.

Follow La Mano on Twitter for updates at @lamanocoffee. More information on Facebook and at

Top photo by Nguyen Khoi Nguyen.

Can’t get enough build-outs? Explore new cafes from Hong Kong to Helsinki, Winnipeg to Waco, right here in our Build-Outs Of Summer archives. 

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