In DC? You MUST Try the Coffee at Bus Boys & Poets, Here's Why


Every time we go to Busboys & Poets when we’re in Washington, D.C., I feel as if I’m walking into my own personal immersive coffee house experience. You know that super-progressive, wood-paneled café/ full-service restaurant, with a bar and (wait for it), a BOOKSTORE! It exists.

It’s as vibey as it was in 2005 when Andy Shalal started it with a mission that still resonates 18 years later.

Late December is a great time to go to Busboys & Poets. The holiday décor is festive and chill, and baby it’s warm inside. Just outside, blue-white lights twinkle on a large pristine Christmas tree, against the backdrop of the Romanesque architecture that defines this part of D.C. Inside, the wood paneling is offset by art deco chandeliers and ceilings, with inlaid brick in the large loungey coffee bar section. Stevie Wonder’s You Haven’t Done Nothin’ plays in the background as you ponder whether to buy “Patriarchy Blues”.

Did you know by the way, that You Haven’t Done Nothin’ was a political protest against Richard Nixon, who resigned 2 days after its release in 1974? And did you also know that the background vocals were sung by the Jackson Five? Check out this still relevant song.

I love a place where you can start with a cup of delicious coffee, then eat super spicy wings, before tucking into blackened salmon.  A harmonious din can be heard as hipsters, activists, families, and students come together to eat, talk, laugh, read, listen to music, look at art, and drink coffee. I just wish I could have been there for the New Year’s event where people were invited to bring in 2023 in any of B&P’s 9 locations in the D.C. area.

So you may want to know where that name, Busboys & Poets, came from. It's an homage to Langston Hughes, who once worked as a busboy, eventually becoming a leader of the Harlem Renaissance, who would one day be known as the Poet of the People. Check out some of his poems here.  

I’m so glad we got to take a deliberate pause at Busboys & Poets on what turned out to be a perfect winter night.


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