So as I am currently “between jobs” (cough), I have become quite the tester of wifi coffeeshops. In general, I tend to evaluate them on a set of 6 criteria:
- coffee quality
- snack options
- hipster scale
- background music
- availability of the internets.
For example, months back I blogged about MidCity Caffe, a wonderful option that scored very high in all categories, save it’s hipster scale reading of 7.0, which was due to the presence of 3 flannel shirts, a che hat and 2 NYT crossword puzzles being solved simultaneously. 7.0 is dangerously high.
I then started thinking about other options in the area, like Busboys and Poets, Tryst, Steam Cafe, and Kramers, and ultimately, it’s always the same basic face-off. Utilitarian vs. stylish, or in actual cafe terms, Steam Cafe vs. Tryst. Steam Cafe is the utilitarian model. And no, I don’t mean hipster exposed brick utilitarianism, I mean pure mall food court utilitarianism. Complete with hard chairs and grainy photos of ice cream cones. The Steam model is not trendy, but it is also not crowded. Family owned, classical music playing, the food is great but not that healthy. The internet works perfectly and sweatpants are welcome.
Juxtapose that with Tryst. THE Tryst. Open concept, hip tatooed cashiers, vintage comfy couches and chairs, very delicious coffee and food, and TONS of people. Definitely not the place for my fug olive-colored sweatpants. Music is usually good, but loud. Internet is perfectly accessible.
SO. Where do I go you ask? Where do I go if I need to use the internets with the company of a croissant snack ?? STEAM CAFE. In a second. Look, Tryst is great to grab lunch, take people from out of town, pick up some food to go. But to work? I just can’t do it. When I schlep my laptop around DC I need to know I will have a place to sit when I get there. I need to know I will have music at a decent volume, be able to look hideous and, because my computer is stone age, have an outlet to plug in to. Steam has these things, plus excellent paninis, plus staff that are unbelievably nice.
So if you need to work, you should try Steam. Just not on a weekend. We all hate people that camp out all day and only purchase one cup of coffee.