What's a Coffee Commentary?
Subject: Murky Coffee
Location visited: Arlington, VA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]
Update 6/26/09: Murky is closed for good, though owner Nick Cho has new ventures in mind.
I would have to admit that being 2 hours from DC most of my life has only resulted in a surprising three visits, most of them when I was a youngin. For some reason, DC seemed so much farther away (probably because of the traffic). So recently, the wife and I decided to make the trek down to DC with two friends as well as to meet up with a friend who happens to live in Arlington, right near Murky Coffee.
Now my friend, who happens to be a fellow fanatic, has often teased me with his wondrous proximity to such a quality establishment by sending me text messages as he worked from their shop or with tales of his encounters at their facility. So needless to say, I begged my fellow travelers to make our first stop Murky Coffee to which they so gracefully acquiesced.
Murky's 2 story converted house sits right at the junction of what appears to be a fork in the road, the exterior outfitted with a lovely dark greenish-gray paint job and has plenty of outside seating in the front. The interior looked welcoming but also a bit like a cute gutted house; the ceiling beams were exposed yet decorated, the floor had a chic concrete look and aside from the furniture and the bar area, the rest of the structure seemed to be a bit shack-ish. My friend later informed me that they had been improving the building periodically, so I guess the building is going through a slow makeover.
The coffee is actually Counter Culture, though all the bags are repackaged with a Murky Coffee label (a practice I'm not particularly fond of as it gives the impression that the retailer had a role in the coffee preparation). Murky does take a unique stance on their coffees, not serving anything anyone would consider a "dark roast," which I must concur that usually I'm not really a fan of oily beans and I've had about five dark roasts in my life that I would drink again.
I sampled a lightly roasted limited-offering Peruvian coffee which tasted smooth and sweet, with a hint of marinara, but overall seemed to be a very light coffee (very similar to a coffee I recently sampled the day prior at the Spin Caffe).
The espresso is where I expected Murky to shine, as they've hosted numerous barista competitions as well as taken home a few awards. It was easy to see that the baristas definitely know what they're doing after watching them prepare a few drinks as I waited for mine. The espresso was wonderful, with a beautiful citrus tang and a nice zest. My friend got a macchiatto that he enjoyed greatly, though we both agreed that the macchiatto seemed to be more of a strong miniature latte then a macchiatto (that is, if you traditionally define macchiatto as being "marked" with a 1:1 milk to espresso ratio). Overall, an impressive espresso operation.
The teas were free leaf but I failed to discover from whence they came.
Since Murky has definitely been on my radar for a while, I was truly glad to finally have made it down to try the place out. In the end, I would say that I even more envy my friend's location and look forward to making a return trip.
If you happen to be in the area or near a Metro stop (as Murky is right off the Clarendon station), definitely make a stop at Murky.
PS: My condolences with the loss of the Capitol Hill location