Sunday, December 17, 2006

Have You Been to Sidamo?

If you haven't tried H Street's newest (and currently only, since the one at 1359 has temporarly shut down after changing ownership) coffee and tea shop yet, you should. Sidamo offers a variety of espresso drinks as well as their own organic, fair trade, shade grown (prized my many for its superior flavor) coffee. Not a coffee drinker? Sidamo offers more than twenty varieties of loose and bag teas. They even have a loose tea called tutti frutti that's sure to appeal to the younger set. Sidamo serves its teas in individual pots the rest above tea candles so your brew stays warm longer. Bottles ice tea, water, juices, and milk (both regular and chocolate) are available. To eat Sidamo offers pastries and muffins from Uptown Bakery, cakes from Clement's, and yogurt. Soon (hopefully next week) they will also have sandwiches and bagels. The owner was sampling different cream cheese brands when I stopped in Thursday morning. That kind attention to detail is apparent throughout Sidamo. Unlike at many coffee houses, everything (except prepackaged beverages and to-go items) are served with glassware. The floor, though not orignal to the building, is about 85 years old, and was rescued from another building. The owner, Kenfe Bellay, says he likes the idea of recycling materials whenever he can. The chestnut counter behind which Mr. Bellay stands is the reincarnation of old doors.
The chalkboard pictured above now displays the menu
Asked why he chose H Street the owner replies that he looked at threee different neighborhoods, H Street, Takoma Park, and Silver Spring. But somehow H Street, because of the changes he's seen in the neighborhood (he's been watching us for a while, he previously tried to lease space in a building in the 300 block of H Street), and because of its proximaty to Capitol Hill. He says he looks at H Street and sees a nice chance for his shop and the community to grow together. Bringing people together is one of Mr. Bellay's hopes for Sidamo. Every Saturday and Sunday at 2pm Sidamo hosts an Ethiopian coffee ceremony where groups of people come together and talk over coffee. He hopes to hold these events three times a week once he gets more settled.

Sidamo offers free wifi. There plenty of space to sit outside at the three tables located out back. There is even lighting out there to facilitate evening gatherings.
Starting sometime soon Sidamo will offer bags of their own freshly roasted coffee beans for sale at the counter.
Sidamo Coffee and Tea
417 H Street
7am-7pm 7 days a week

As promised, here is a repost with the photos I couldn't access before.


Rob said...

We've been there a couple of times. Mr. Bellay is really friendly. He said they'll start selling the coffee they roast in-shop by the pound in a few days.
When it was warm that back yard was a great space. In the main room those windows up high really let a lot of light in. Great place overall.

mfa said...

We go there regularly on the weekends. The owners are so friendly and the space is very warm and inviting- every time I'm in they've added another great little touch.

I think the only constructive criticism I could offer is that they need to work on the speed of service. Now that enough people are going there often- I've noticed the lines get a little backed up.

I'm sure they will work this out in time- and I will have the pefect neighborhood coffee shop!!

Also -anyone heard more on what they are working on in the old Reader's Lounge space next door? Looked like some substantial carpentry going on the other day.

pingo said...

I'm not sure about the Reader's Lounge, but I did see that the Rib Tip's grand opening is in one day...

inked said...

The only thing I've heard about the Reader's Lounge space is that one of the business partners from Reader's Lounge wanted to open up something (I'm not sure what, but I was under the impression is was something like Reader's Lounge) in there. I don't know if the work being done is the result of that plan, or of something else entirely.

inked said...

Very cool. I hadn't noticed a sign. Someone will have to go and report back.

Anonymous said...

A bar will open up where the Reader's Lounge was, but I don't have any other details.

Jay said...

I've been to Sidamo several times now, and it's now become my destination of choice when I need to get out of the house to study (which is very often). The drinks are very good, the owners are extremely friendly, and I love the atmosphere.

If you're in there and see a guy with a reddish beard working on his Apple MacBook Pro, stop and say hi...I'm interested in meeting more people in the neighborhood. Although I'm a student, I'm hoping to live around here even after I graduate in May.

Rob said...

We spent a couple of hours there yesterday and it remained lively the whole time. Same super-friendly service, attractive & well-lit space w/ free wi-fi, and good products: the hot cider was really good.
Evidently they're still having problems that stop them from selling coffee by the pound.
Go check it out!
PS I'd say Sidamo has set a high bar for R&B's successor when it opens.

Joe Hoya said...

I've been watching Sidamo from the construction phase (David Bernhardt, who is a neighbor, did most of the interior construction). Now that it's open, I've been several times and have been pleased each time.

Mr. Bellay and his wife are both wonderful, going out of their way to talk with you if you take the time to hang out. Today (12/18) should be the first day they offer their lunch menu (mostly pannini), and I'm planning on heading over there to give it a try.

This is a GREAT addition to the west end of H Street, and exactly the kind of family-owned business we need to encourage and support.

Anonymous said...

The more I hear about the H Street Corridor, the more compelled I feel to check it out.

Freewheel said...

Looks like the perfect hangout.

avocadoinparadise said...

That backyard patio looks great!

Jay said...

Sidamo also started selling items on their breakfast and lunch menu - it includes breakfast sandwiches, lunch sandwiches, soups, and salads.

I had a breakfast sandwich the other day, and it was very tasty.

Every time I go there, I get happier and happier I live near it.

Anonymous said...

"The more I hear about the H Street Corridor, the more compelled I feel to check it out."

There was a nice piece done on the H st Festival a few months back on in the Festivents section.

Anonymous said...

Joe Hoya, Do you have David Bernhardt's business contact info? I like the work he did on Sidamo's space. Thanks!


inked said...

David Berhardt isn't a contractor. He's the building's owner.

i heart sidamo said...

David Bernhardt did tell me that he did cabinetry etc. projects on the side a while back-though that was while he was operating the laundromat.