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This New Eritrean-Owned Coffee Shop Is a Boon for Shaw

The Roasted Boon hopes to start serving wine and sangria by September

The Roasted Boon opened for limited indoor/outdoor seating on Monday, July 20.
The Roasted Boon opened for limited indoor/outdoor seating on Monday, July 20.
Smret Tewolde/The Roasted Boon
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

A new coffee shop that roasts its own beans with a high-tech machine opened today in a renovated space that replaces the liquor store on the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and 11th Street NW in Shaw.

The Roasted Boon (1018 Rhode Island Avenue NW) will operate daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. to start. The 2,000-square-foot space houses a touch screen-enabled roaster that will extract flavor out of coffee beans from Guatemala, Colombia, Ethiopia, and Brazil. The white machine, purchased from Idaho-based Diedrich Roasters, sports signatures of former trainees. Its current espresso is a Brazilian-Ethiopian blend. Local bakery Fresh Baguette supplies bagels, cookies, muffins, croissants, and pre-packaged sandwiches for the shop. For workout buffs, there are packaged protein bars, fresh fruit, and an array of smoothies.

Packaged beans will soon be for sale at a retail shelf upon entrance. A cup of drip coffee starts at $2.50. Espresso drinks come in two sizes: medium (two shots) and large (four). Every drink is served in a disposable, recyclable containers. The industrial, raw floor — the only element held over from the liquor store — features social distancing stickers for its walk-up only orders.

The exterior of The Roasted Boon.
Smret Tewolde/Roasted Boon

A signature drink out of the gate is “the Shaw” — a hot mix of French vanilla and nutmeg, made with its silver Casadio espresso machine behind the register. Other drink orders include an Americano, latte, macchiato, flat white, chai latte, and an icy Frappuccino.

The Boon (not bean) on its sign refers to a traditional coffee-making ceremony in Eritrea, general manager Smret Tewolde’s homeland. The logo subs in espresso beans for the name’s vowels. The owners took over the space a year ago, and a completely renovated building was ready to roll in March — right when COVID-19 sparked a citywide shutdown.

“We started this journey before COVID,” Tewolde says. “It’s been something we’ve talked about for a long time, so we weren’t going to stop now.”

The Roasted Boon’s roaster.
Tierney Plumb/Eater DC
A colorful mural of the globe pays homage to worldwide coffee culture.
Tierney Plumb/Eater DC
Some of the baskets were made by Tewolde’s aunt.
Tierney Plumb/Eater DC

By early September, Tewolde expects to expand hours to midnight while serving wine and sangrias. The owners are still waiting on their liquor license. Stools will fill out a marble bar once they’re allowed under the city’s reopening plan.

Colorful woven baskets, traditionally used to serve popcorn, snacks, and cookies, double as wall art. Tewolde hopes to recreate a traditional “boon” on-site once or twice a month.

*This post has been edited to reflect the correct title of Smret Tewolde as general manager (not a co-owner).