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The 12 Best Covert Coffee Spots in D.C.

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The first 100 days of any new job can be a real eye-opener. Learning the ropes, establishing trust, plotting strategy — it’s a lot to handle, particularly if personal priorities have shifted or the work environment doesn't match expectations.

But getting out is never easy, even when it’s clear to everyone involved that brighter opportunities might be available elsewhere. How does one slyly change into a suit within a business casual office setting, and then claim a “doctor’s appointment?” Or how many informational interview “coffees” can someone book before running out of clandestine spots to meet?

Fear not, opportunity seekers. Eater’s compiled a list of local coffee shops that are perfect for under the radar rendezvous. Whether huddling with the competition or leaking classified documents to a reporter, here are a dozen hiding spots for getting down to business away from prying eyes.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Maketto

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The cafe section of Maketto has a small back room, perfect for quiet meetings — though H Street NE is far enough off the beaten path that any coffee option might be clandestine enough.

Ebenezers Coffeehouse

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The challenges faced by overworked and ambitious Hill staff are legion in this town. For House staffers seeking a quiet place on the other side of the Capitol, or Senate staffers looking for an escape from Cups & Company, Ebenezers is a go-to. Tucked behind Union Station, it’s far enough from the Capitol buildings to evade colleagues, but close enough to make it back within 10-15 minutes of a boss’ call.

Irish Channel Restaurant & Pub

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Irish Channel may be known for its on-tap brews, but the restaurant serves coffee too. Regulars claim that no one “political” goes there — except, of course, for the occasional cameo by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on karaoke night.

Courtyard Cafe at the National Portrait Gallery

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In 2008, this was the go-to spot for members of the Obama/Biden transition teams. There is a lovely cafe where one can meet, eat, and likely not see (or be seen by) anyone.

Teaism Penn Quarter

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Find a spot in the basement and talk for hours. The main level is where the ordering takes place, and the Penn Quarter location makes it an ideal spot for pedestrian tourist traffic.

[Teaism]

The Coupe

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This coffee shop, restaurant, and bar all rolled into one opens at 7 a.m. and is only a few blocks from the Columbia Heights metro.

The Coffee Bar

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Big comfy sofas and ample outdoor seating give the coffee shop more of a “bar” feel than a traditional coffee shop. The mixed-use vibe could provide some cover for straight-laced folks who might otherwise not frequent such an establishment.

Starbucks at the JW Marriott

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This spot has long been the go-to for D.C. officials who want to talk politics outside of the Wilson building. The Starbucks is located off the second floor lobby, where one is more likely to encounter tourists than a coworker stopping by for a latte on the way into the office.

Firehook Bakery

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There is plenty of seating at Firehook. But if arranging a clandestine meeting, opt for a spot in the back which is visually separated from the entrance and ordering area by displays and pillars.

Un Je Ne Sais Quoi

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The year-old bakery may have eye-catching pastries, but the relative newness of the location makes this an ideal spot for those seeking an anonymous coffee meetup in otherwise bustling Dupont Circle.

Tryst at the Phillips

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This cafe tucked into an art museum has a variety of seating options with spotty cell service (think: less likely to be interrupted). It opens at 10 a.m., so no power breakfasting. And don’t schedule anything on a Monday (it’s closed then).

Bread Furst

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Skip the communal table and head to one of the two-tops at this no-laptops-allowed bakery. The lack of working space gives this establishment more of a neighborhood feel.

Maketto

The cafe section of Maketto has a small back room, perfect for quiet meetings — though H Street NE is far enough off the beaten path that any coffee option might be clandestine enough.

Ebenezers Coffeehouse

The challenges faced by overworked and ambitious Hill staff are legion in this town. For House staffers seeking a quiet place on the other side of the Capitol, or Senate staffers looking for an escape from Cups & Company, Ebenezers is a go-to. Tucked behind Union Station, it’s far enough from the Capitol buildings to evade colleagues, but close enough to make it back within 10-15 minutes of a boss’ call.

Irish Channel Restaurant & Pub

Irish Channel may be known for its on-tap brews, but the restaurant serves coffee too. Regulars claim that no one “political” goes there — except, of course, for the occasional cameo by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on karaoke night.

Courtyard Cafe at the National Portrait Gallery

In 2008, this was the go-to spot for members of the Obama/Biden transition teams. There is a lovely cafe where one can meet, eat, and likely not see (or be seen by) anyone.

Teaism Penn Quarter

[Teaism]

Find a spot in the basement and talk for hours. The main level is where the ordering takes place, and the Penn Quarter location makes it an ideal spot for pedestrian tourist traffic.

[Teaism]

The Coupe

This coffee shop, restaurant, and bar all rolled into one opens at 7 a.m. and is only a few blocks from the Columbia Heights metro.

The Coffee Bar

Big comfy sofas and ample outdoor seating give the coffee shop more of a “bar” feel than a traditional coffee shop. The mixed-use vibe could provide some cover for straight-laced folks who might otherwise not frequent such an establishment.

Starbucks at the JW Marriott

This spot has long been the go-to for D.C. officials who want to talk politics outside of the Wilson building. The Starbucks is located off the second floor lobby, where one is more likely to encounter tourists than a coworker stopping by for a latte on the way into the office.

Firehook Bakery

There is plenty of seating at Firehook. But if arranging a clandestine meeting, opt for a spot in the back which is visually separated from the entrance and ordering area by displays and pillars.

Un Je Ne Sais Quoi

The year-old bakery may have eye-catching pastries, but the relative newness of the location makes this an ideal spot for those seeking an anonymous coffee meetup in otherwise bustling Dupont Circle.

Tryst at the Phillips

This cafe tucked into an art museum has a variety of seating options with spotty cell service (think: less likely to be interrupted). It opens at 10 a.m., so no power breakfasting. And don’t schedule anything on a Monday (it’s closed then).

Bread Furst

Skip the communal table and head to one of the two-tops at this no-laptops-allowed bakery. The lack of working space gives this establishment more of a neighborhood feel.

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