Maryland’s ‘best coffee,’ right here in Hyattsville
By HEATHER WRIGHT — If you were wondering where to find the best coffee in Maryland, look no further than Gallatin Street. According to Food & Wine, Vigilante Coffee Company serves up Maryland’s best coffee.
David Landsel, the author of the online article “The Best Coffee in Every State,” notes, “Back before the nation’s capital had a whole lot going on in the way of local coffee, Chris Vigilante was roasting for local restaurants in the basement of a District row home. These days, his product is a firm D.C. favorite, even if home base is a somewhat sprawling roastery, café and social hub, just over the line in Prince George’s County.”
Chris Vigilante, founder and owner of Vigilante, said that he had not been aware that Vigilante Coffee was under consideration for the designation and found out about it over social media. “We’re super proud to be recognized as the best roaster in the state of Maryland. There are some really quality roasters in our state, so we consider it to be a big honor,” said Vigilante. He added that the honor was “a testament to our amazing employees who work really hard to give a great Vigilante experience to our customers.”
Baltimore’s Dovecoat Café was the Maryland runner-up, described as “so much more than just another coffee bar — this appealing space is creating community in the city’s evolving Reservoir Hill neighborhood.” Other establishments honored as providing the best coffee in their state included Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Company in Richmond, Va., and Passenger Coffee in Lancaster, Pa.
The methodology of determining a state’s best coffee was admittedly vague: “We set out to take a close look at the [coffee] scene in each of the 50 states, sampling a lifetime’s worth of espresso and coming up with some incredible finds.” Although the article suggested that the sampled coffees would be scored, no findings were provided. Unlike when Chris Vigilante was rated as a top-five roaster in the 2017 U.S. Coffee Championship, there were no tallies of the espresso’s aroma, flavor or body. No descriptions or ratings of beans.
The results may have hinged on established reputations as much as anything. However, reputations are usually earned, and Vigilante Coffee has certainly earned its share of honors from both local and national sources. In 2013, Vigilante Coffee earned Slow Food DC’s Snail of Approval for “contributing to the quality, authenticity, and sustainability of the food we eat and the beverages we drink in the National Capital Region.” Washington City Paper awarded Vigilante Coffee Best Pop-Up Cafe (2013) and Best Locally Roasted Coffee (2015). Zagat describes the coffee roaster as providing “artisanal java in [an] airy, modern setting.”
Then there are the beans themselves: Vigilante’s DANK Espresso Blend received 2016 Silver & Bronze Medals from Golden Bean North America and their Kenyan Gathiruini was rated 95 out of 100 by Coffee Review.
Landsel also referred to College Park’s Vigilante Coffee venue that opened mid-March at 8200 Baltimore Avenue: “The company’s adopted home seems to be agreeing with them — a second, also rather impressive space, has now opened [its] doors near the University of Maryland campus in College Park.”
About the new location, Vigilante said, “The community here has really embraced us, and we are stoked to be a part of what’s going on in College Park.” Vigilante said that the menu differs (“just a bit”) from the one in Hyattsville, and that, “It’s an experience worth having even if you’re already a big fan of the roastery.” He continued, “One thing that’s consistent between the two — providing a world class coffee experience for our customers.”