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NYC-Born Blank Street Coffee Edits — But Continues to Expand — D.C. Presence

The caffeine company deletes Wharf plans and announces two new Northwest cafes

Blank Street Coffee debuted in Dupont last fall.
Blank Street Coffee
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Blank Street Coffee, the private equity-backed java chain fueled on high-volume espresso machines and affordable cups of Joe, has quickly learned that its months-old D.C. market likes lingering over lattes more than grabbing them to-go.

The NYC import’s inaugural D.C. locations debuted in Dupont (1250 Connecticut Ave NW) and Logan Circle (1807 14th Street NW) in October. The company just confirmed plans to expand to two more neighborhoods, with early-to-mid summer store openings planned for the West End and Georgetown. But the mint-green brand is no longer coming to a previously announced micro-location at the Wharf (605 Wharf Street SW).

“Blank Street goes where its customers are,” a company spokesperson tells Eater. “[We] saw a trend in our first D.C. stores that customers were looking for larger stores where they could sit and enjoy their drink, and tailored expansion plans based on that, including the Wharf.”

High-tech Eversys machines automate orders at Blank Street Coffee.
George Arnaldo

In other news, Blank Street recently closed its months-old Shaw cafe to the public and transformed the address into a permanent training lab for its D.C.-area baristas (1847 7th Street NW). The educational hub teaches staff how to take orders, make drinks, and interact with customers in a classroom-like setting. Along with offering a two-day orientation prior to an employee’s first shift, the Shaw site will hone existing baristas’ skills on an ongoing basis.

Drip is a medium roast “Speed Dial” blend of Brazilian and Nicaraguan beans, and drinks include a blended matcha lemonade and strawberries-and-cream latte. On the food front, Blank Street Coffee sources from D.C.’s Fresh Baguette (sweet and savory pastries) and Green Almond Pantry (focaccia).

The pandemic-born startup that began as a tiny electric cart in Williamsburg is now a bonafide coffee conglomerate, with dozens of tech-savvy stores scattered across Brooklyn and Manhattan; a cluster of London locations; and a few new ones in Boston.

Moving forward in D.C., a company spokesperson says Blank Street will continue to pursue “a variety of stores in the market, both smaller-format and larger with seating.” The original expansion plan calls for 10 area locations by the end of 2023.

The Wharf’s now-nixed location was slated to open at the foot of the luxe Amaris condo building, and it’s unclear what will go into the 800-square-foot site instead. Eater reached out to a Southwest Waterfront representative for comment.

The Shaw cafe (pictured) recently flipped into an in-house training site for employees only.
Blank Street Coffee