Big Bear Cafe // Washington, D.C.

Name: Big Bear Cafe 

Location: 1700 1st St NW Washington, DC 20001

Closest Metro Stop: Shaw-Howard U Metro or Noma (but both are kind of a walk)


Vibe: I mean from the outside, it’s absolutely breathtaking. It feels like a little secret garden tucked away into an interesting part of DC. The outside is so enchanting with so much outdoor seating so it’s perfect for warm DC days. On the inside, it’s all dark wood and brick which is pretty cool. And even though it’s pretty dark, there are some beautiful windows that really do make a huge difference and lighten the place up which creates an awesome juxtaposition between light and dark. This place was packed, but that only added to the charm of it.

Wifi: Yes- they have a network called BBC which at first thought was them being funny and later realized that it stood for Big Bear Cafe… silly me. However, they don’t have it on the weekends… I learned this the hard way. 

Hours: Their hours change daily, but generally it’s somewhere around 7AM-10PM

Seating: There’s a lot of seating both inside and out. However, I will say that even though there was a lot of it, a seat inside (to charge my electronics before heading to the patio) was hard to come by. There’s as much seating as they can possibly fit in there without making it feel cramped in any way.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 4.02.30 PM

Music: When I first walked in, I thought I was in Spain. It was so bizarre that Spanish indie rock was playing, but I feel like it first perfectly with the vibe of this place. However, the Spanish indie rock didn’t stay forever. Eventually, more emphasis on indie rock and reggae and less Spanish seeped in. It isn’t my favorite type of music to listen to as I do work or converse with a friend, but it wasn’t distracting either. 

Coffee & Food: I only tried the coffee as this was my third pit stop to a coffee shop that day. They actually have quite an extensive menu as they serve breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner… oh and coffee of course! The small pastries they had didn’t look particularly appetizing to me but I have a good feeling about their food otherwise. As for the coffee, all I can say is wow. It doesn’t look particularly fancy, but I can easily say that this is hands down the best mocha I’ve had in months. It had the perfect balance of coffee and chocolate. Every sip has a bit of foam. And I guzzled it in about 10 minutes (which is fast for me) despite it being 4 in the afternoon.

Price: It was $5 and worth every penny.


Overall: I’ll be honest, before turning the corner and seeing the oasis that I would soon find, I wasn’t sold. I felt pretty uncomfortable as a single woman walking down the street and wasn’t quite sure what I was walking into (see the things I do for you on my quest to report on the best coffee shops). Upon walking in, the staff is pretty quirky and I couldn’t tell if that was something I was into or not… but because I was a little irritable from feeling unsafe walking there, I determined I wasn’t a fan. I then ordered and sat down where their char proceeded to have nails that needed to be hammered in and therefore put a hole into my jeans (this is something that happens to me all. the. time. and I have no idea why). But then, they called my name and I took a sip of my mocha and all my frustrations melted away. Overall, it’s undetermined if I would come back. The coffee was phenomenal and the outdoor space is to die for. However, I think I would want to bring a friend next time to have a buddy to get to and fro because I simply didn’t feel safe en route. If they ever opened another location (but honestly this place is too cool and they probably never will since it’s pretty one of a kind), I would go in a heartbeat all the time. So, anyone want to go with me next time? 🙂

You can also read an update about how much I love Big Bear Cafe, here.

As always, you can follow along by following the hashtag #coffeexploring and @musingsovermochas


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