As an aging European-American, I came late to the need for lattes in my life, specifically vanilla lattes. In keeping with the aging part, I now have moved into the non-sugar lattes; I am verging on just straight shots of espresso at this point. To help others in my bucolic hometown of Annandale, I share this review of local establishments that sell the brewed bean; I hope it helps.
Tous Le Jours - the New One
Overall vibe: Lots of employees, lots of baking, shiny equipment and comfy chairs. Monogrammed coffee cup lids. Might be a chain, hard to tell.
Clientele: mid-aged executives looking at their laptops and talking in loud voices into their earpieces.
Coffee: available for a price.
Location: kinda near my house in the downtown area, that place with all the parking.
Bathroom: I guess, I mean, everyone is supposed to because of zoning, right?
Starbucks (various locations)
Overall vibe: Like being at the Seattle Fish Market, with less atmosphere and lots of green and mermaids. Always busy.
Best feature: when I go to the one near my house, they know the various iterations of my name and will call me by them. Also, my friend Fred is sometimes there, and we get fired up in conversation.
Coffee: well, yes, but wouldn't you like a sandwich with that?
Clientele: depends on location. Near me, super-polite HS students in masses, teachers, harried dentist and vet employees. Over down the road, excitedly talking Vietnamese men who step outside to smoke every few minutes. Further down the road, Ethiopian men who gather in circles to discuss politics.
Overall vibe: clean aesthetic, Mom and Pop-ish, very present and friendly owner who I talk to all the time.
Best feature: On the right side on my way home, so it is easy to swing into.
Coffee: Pretty sure they have it.
Location: You know that area with a lot of old nightclubs and where Shakey's used to be? Somewhere over in there.
Art: Restaurant art, because they didn't ask me to do their mural.
Clientele: Owner's husband
Overall vibe: Roastery jammed into a small storefront, with seats added only because customers were sitting on the floor. I mean, if they made it cute they would probably triple their sales.
Best Feature: Guy who sits in the glass-enclosed roasting space looking at his cell phone who gives all the appearances of being there under duress.
Coffee: Yeah, I think so.
Location: That strip where Enterprise and Navy Federal Credit Union used to be. Oh, and also where the A&P grocery store was 40 years ago. Near where I get my hair cut.
Clientele: Older folks drinking coffee because they have to, but don't want to get it at a Korean place.
Bathroom: Well, really just for staff, but if you have to, it's over by those bags of beans.
Overall vibe: French bakery that reluctantly sells coffee, always kind of busy.
Best feature: It used to be a hardware store and a bike shop, so I can imagine what it was like back in the day.
Coffee: If you must, they do sell it.
Location: Over by Sal's but a little further.
Clientele: Families, lone people sitting by themselves, those two guys getting loud.
Overall vibe: Busy bakery that knows everyone knows the place and so is a bit brusque, jammed with people all the time, narrow aisles.
Best feature: Easy to see from the street
Coffee: They must have some, everyone does these days, right?
Location: Remember when there was a movie theater in Annandale? It was RIGHT THERE, and they tore it down and now there is a shopping strip and that's where it is.
Clientele: People who like baked goods and are in a hurry. No pushing!
Overall vibe: Lots of cute touches, baked goods, displays, enough space to swing dance, with an upstairs room and balcony that screams "New Orleans" but then its too cold for that.
Best feature: dioramas on the stairway up
Coffee: Yes, but what type of coffee would you like?
Clientele: varied, lots of loners, people who really like to pick over baked things.
Location: Way on the other side of town, but worth the drive because it is near the highway, and near that good 24-hour Korean restaurant.
Overall vibe: Tiny and jammed, no seating, no decoration, lots of beef jerky, "lunch" and "smokes" are available.
Best feature: Cash machines that don't charge a fee. Cheap Christmas and birthday gifts.
Coffee: Only kind that my kids will drink, but you have to use the fresh urn, not the old one.
Location: Near enough the house that I can walk over and get milk if I have to.
Clientele: Traveling salespeople, couples buying cases of bad beer, construction and highway workers on a break, day laborers looking to keep their spirits up by mid-afternoon, my kids.
I am adding a picture of my wife, Erin, because it was a nice day out in the snow.