Keeping it Fresh: Quartermaine Coffee Roasters
Of the eight coffee shops we chose to feature, Quartermaine Coffee Roasters is definitely a Montgomery County institution, having arrived at the beginning of the specialty coffee craze here. The Rockville-based company was founded in 1991; the Bethesda Avenue coffee shop opened the following year. (Its location in Bethesda’s Georgetown Square closed in January.)
The company is now co-owned by Carolyn Weinberg and Roger Scheumann. In Quartermaine’s early years, Weinberg worked on wholesale accounts and then oversaw the construction of the roasting plant in Rockville. Scheumann was the coffee buyer and roaster (he’s also the stepson of Jerry Baldwin, a co-founder of Starbucks and former owner and chairman of Peet’s Coffee). “We were all so passionate about coffee. Starbucks wasn’t really here yet,” Weinberg says. The first East Coast Starbucks opened in Washington, D.C.’s Cleveland Park in 1993. Micro-roasteries—coffee shops roasting on-site instead of buying prepackaged coffees—started popping up in the early ’90s, too.
The service counter and coffee bins run down one side of the narrow and bustling Bethesda Avenue store, with tables seating 36 lined down the other. Enjoy the good weather when the windows are open at the five-seat counter in the front. Perusing the back-of-the-store coffee bins during our last visit to Quartermaine we saw beans from the Americas, Africa and the Pacific, and several blends, among them lighter roasts (Aromatica, Papua New Guinea Aromatica) and darker roasts (Viennese, espresso, French). Steve Brown, the company’s coffee specialist, says relationships with farmers and importers built over almost 30 years translate into controlled costs and reliable bean quality.
Even though Quartermaine has old-school roots, the coffee drink selection is abundant and up to date. Along with the usual espresso-based drinks, you’ll find frozen frappes, flat whites, nitro and cold brews, and pour-overs.
Quartermaine Coffee Roasters, 4817 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda; 301-718-2853; quartermaine.com
Record Sales: Bump ‘n Grind
Looking to combine his love of music with his work skills in community development and marketing, David Fogel, now 44, hit upon the idea of combining a coffee shop with a record store. The former host of multimedia music events in the D.C. area opened Bump ‘n Grind in Silver Spring in 2015 on East West Highway, a five-minute walk from his home.
The “bump” part is vinyl records, more than 1,500 of them, mostly new releases but some used—funk, soul, hip-hop, opera, techno, house, reggae and more. There’s a turntable with headphones for customers to check out records before buying them. The first Thursday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m. is Vinyl ‘n Tell night, when you bring in a record to share over the sound system. DJs and live artists perform several nights a month.
The “grind” part is the coffee, in which Fogel gave himself a crash course. He works directly with people who have ties to farms in El Salvador, Honduras and Ethiopia, and also uses a distributor. “I’m only interested in farms that are good environmental stewards and good to their workers,” Fogel says. “They aren’t all necessarily fair-trade certified, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t being fair to their workers; it means there are barriers to certification.” Beans are roasted at a facility Fogel has in Silver Spring. He hopes to switch to a new roastery he’s opening in Kensington by this summer and will eventually add an espresso bar there.
Bump ‘n Grind, which seats 55 inside and 20 outside, has high ceilings, lots of windows and 2,100 square feet of space. Tables are spaced far apart, so many people use Bump ‘n Grind as their office. Sip and do good by downing house-bottled, lavender-infused “Purple Rain” cold brew, made with 734 Coffee, a company whose profits support Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia.
Bump ‘n Grind also operates a kiosk at Dawson’s Market in Rockville.
Bump ‘n Grind, 1200 East West Highway, Silver Spring; 301-588-8000; bumpngrind.co
David Hagedorn is the restaurant critic for Bethesda Magazine.