The founders of Lost Sock Roasters want to treat their first retail cafe like a showroom for their wholesale coffee business, which means new customers in the Takoma neighborhood on D.C.’s northern border get to try everything the small-batch coffee company has to offer to a client base that has included local favorites like Call Your Mother deli and Baked & Wired’s bakeries.
Last week, while Lost Sock was running a test service ahead of the official opening on Monday, February 1, co-owner Jeff Yerxa hovered over a Hario V60 pour-over dripper filled with ground beans that are commonly found in Kenya but were grown out of volcanic soil in Ecuador’s equator-hugging Pichincha province. He explained how the beans, from a farm called Finca Maputo, develop an offbeat flavor that reminds him of tomato jam.
“Most of the coffees that we like tend to be fruity, juicy, sweet,” Lost Sock co-founder Nico Cabrera says, adding that the small company produces a little something for everyone, like an espresso blend of Brazilian and Guatemalan coffee with notes of dark chocolate and dried fruit. Lost Sock’s Paraiso roast, from the Huehuetenango region of Guatemala, lists golden raisin, prune, and caramel for tasting notes. Cabrera says he’s become buddies with the farmer, Urisar de Leon, and chats with him on WhatsApp “whenever possible.” Lost Sock imports beans from producers in Ethiopia, too.
All coffees are available in house blends or slightly pricier single-origin roasts. Cabrera is tinkering with cereal milk in an attempt to make a Cinnamon Toast Crunch latte. In addition to serving coffee, Lost Sock offers a small menu of pastries, toasts and sandwiches. During the pandemic, Cabrera’s parents have pivoted from running a South American restaurant in Pennsylvania to starting a business for flaky, Argentine-style empanadas. Lost Sock stocks them with fillings like bacon, egg, and cheese; pulled pork; or spinach and feta. Stretchy, cheesy pan de yuca are another hot option.
Roasted peppers marinated in a vinegary dressing similar to chimichurri go atop melted gruyere on a marble rye or focaccia. There are sandwiches built around Serrano ham and manchego or tomatoes and mozzarella. The cafe (6833 Fourth Street NW) doesn’t plan to allow customers to eat inside yet. Opening hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.
Cabrera and Yerxa have been roasting for almost six years, steadily building Lost Sock into a business that can supply all the beans, equipment, and training necessary to set up a coffee program for clients. They never planned to open their own coffee shop, Cabrera says, but when their realtor showed them the space, they couldn’t pass it up. Lost Sock’s cafe is one of two shops with a separate entrance inside the historic Takoma Theater, a former movie house and events space that now houses pediatric neurology and behavioral health care facilities for Children’s National hospital. Another shop space inside will house a juice bar from D.C. chain Turning Natural.
Cabrera and Yerxa have added a couple community partners to help them decorate their new cafe. Lost Sock lines a counter by its front window with flora for sale from Lovers Plant Studio. Curators at the University of Maryland Gallery of Art will pick pieces to rotate through spots on the cafe’s walls. Cabrera says the company is donating all coffee proceeds on opening day to DC Central Kitchen.