Long-delayed Rare Bird Opens, Adds to City’s Growing Coffee Scene
By Stephen Siegel
The Falls Church Times
October 6, 2016
Rare Bird Coffee Roasters, a new specialty coffee house that roasts beans right at its store, quietly opened its doors Tuesday in a move that adds to Falls Church City’s growing premium coffee options.
The bar and roastery, located in the former Tutti Frutti space at 230 W. Broad Street, is the brainchild of Bryan Becker and Lara Berenji, who originally operated the shop in a location well off the beaten path in Northeast Washington. They had originally targeted a July opening, but finishing the space and getting the necessary permits took longer than they planned.
The Broad Street location is not a second one for the couple; they opted to close their Washington store and relocate to Falls Church. They appear to have a real passion for coffee, not only because they roast their own beans, but because they carefully measured and weighed the amount of ground coffee that went into a reporter’s cappuccino on Wednesday.
“We want to make really good coffee,” Mr. Becker said, “but we don’t want to be snobs about it. We want to be inclusive. We like what the coffee community is about.”
That can be a difficult balance to navigate, especially when one has a lot of knowledge of any specialty area. And, as high-end coffee bars have proliferated in Washington and elsewhere, some have become perceived as a bit off putting because of their exotic lingo and approach that in some cases seems to rival that of wine connoisseurs.
But judging by the early response, Rare Bird seems to be doing well; customers streamed in during the early afternoon hours on the store’s second day, even though 1:30 pm wouldn’t seem to be the highest demand time for caffeine. An official grand opening is planned for Oct. 13.
Rare Bird follows Cafe Kindred on North Washington Street, the Happy Tart on South Maple, and Guns and Coffee on West Broad into the City’s burgeoning premium coffee segment. In addition, South Block Coffee Company is located just steps from the City limits on Westmoreland Street. All have opened in just the last few years. Prior to that, local coffee lovers only had two Starbucks locations to fuel their passion.
Both Cafe Kindred and Happy Tart also offer very good espresso drinks, but the Times has yet to sample the unusually named Guns and Coffee. However, a new fan of Rare Bird on Wednesday said he liked that store as well.
Rare Bird also is offering a variety of teas and baked goods from Arlington’s Village Sweet Bakery, as well as baked goods from Natalia’s, which previously had a cafe at the same location.
After Natalia’s closed, Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt moved in, becoming the fourth fro-yo place in the Little City. At the time, it seemed difficult to imagine that all four could survive in such close proximity, and Tutti Frutti and the West Side’s Orange Monkey already are gone, leaving Zinga, which is popular with George Mason High School students, and Sweet Frog as Falls Church’s two fro-yo survivors.
It’s an open question whether the City can support so many premium coffee houses as well, but coffee is certainly more widely consumed than frozen yogurt, and the Starbucks at the Broaddale Center is frequently packed, even during weekday afternoons, which suggests there is demand here for more quality coffee.
By Stephen Siegel
October 6, 2016