After recently perusing through Washingtonian’s “Best Of” list (see some of Alexandria’s local winners), we noticed that Grape + Bean, a wine and coffee combo shop just a half block off King Street in Old Town Alexandria, made the Best Coffee House list this year and we wanted to check it out for ourselves.
The outside of Grape + Bean is reminiscent of Old Town Alexandria's historic and quaint architecture featuring a traditional hanging street sign and old glass pane windows. We were greeted by a series of cheerful "hellos" and "how-may-we-help-you's" from the staff behind the counter as we entered the store. Along both sides are rows and rows of wine bottles and various hightop tables and bar stools scattered throughout the store. The cozy atmosphere is charming , with beautiful worn wood flooring, a wood planked ceiling, and an interior brick wall, and fits in perfectly with the rest of Old Town.
Specializing in both wine and coffee in a single retail is not a common occurence but Grape + Bean appears to pull it off seamlessly. The coffee is high quality, specializing in unique single-origin coffee. Grape + Bean's initial claim to fame was that they were one of the only restaurants in the DC area to own the Clover, a unique machine that brews one cup of coffee at time. Recently, however, Starbucks purchased the Clover design and since then, independent coffee shops have been unable to get the services necessary to maintain the device and thus the Clover now sits unused for the time being. Staffers at Grape + Bean said that the Clover was a fantastic addition to their shop while it lasted and while we were curious to try coffee from the Clover, we were not at all disappointed by the coffee we received when we visited – it was one of the best cups of coffee we’d ever tasted!
Grape + Bean specializes in supplying wine from independent producers, and the prices for their wines range on average from $25 to $40. One very unique component of Grape + Bean is the educational opportunities they offer in the form of wine classes and tastings, which are being held frequently throughout the summer (there is a champagne & sparkling wine tasting class next Thursday!). Overall, Grape + Bean epitomizes the value of the independent coffee shops in the DC area that are so quickly diminishing, and exemplifies the spirit of Old Town Alexandria.
118 South Royal St (1/2 block off King St), Alexandria, VA