To-Bean or not To-Bean: The Best and Worst Starbucks Alternatives

Zoe Davis, Sentry Reporter

The recent Starbucks closure on Langston Boulevard left many people struggling to find a place to find coffee. It was as if a piece of everyone’s identity went missing along with their iced coffee. Some good may have come out of this hardship, however, as people have been forced to branch out and try some local coffee shops. Unfortunately, this can be a daunting task filled with disappointment and bitter coffee. To help you avoid this trial-and-error process, we have created a guide of the best (and worst) local coffee shops. 

Kaldis Social House (3100 10th St N, Arlington, VA)

Kaldis is the epitome of all things local-coffee-shops-related. Located in Clarendon, it has perfected the trendy yet cozy aesthetic. From the music that gets you lost in your own world to an assorted array of comfortable seating, Kaldis has the perfect atmosphere to study or enjoy a brunch with friends. The food is delicious, and their drinks shine as well. Whether you are grabbing a quick bite or staying for a while, Kaldis is a great shake-up from the normal Starbucks run. 

Three Whistles (2719 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA)

A smaller coffee shop, Three Whistles is more on the quiet side. Art and plants are found in every available space, which is limited, as the café is usually filled with people studying. 

Three Whistles has excellent customer service and offers not only gourmet lattes but authentic gelato as well. It is an ideal location for homework and college essays, but if you are looking for a place to talk with friends, this definitely would not be the place for you. If you end up visiting, be prepared to walk, as parking spots are difficult to find. 

Tatte Bakery & Cafe (2805 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA)

If you are looking for a Gilmore Girls-type coffee shop, save yourself some time and skip this visit. While Tatte has undeniably delectable pastries, it lacks the coziness factor. Maybe it’s that it can seem empty, or that the coffee is overpriced for their small size, but it definitely feels more like an upscale brunch place than a cute café. 

Bayou Bakery (1515 N Courthouse Rd, Arlington, VA)

A New Orleans inspired eatery, Bayou has plenty to offer, with one of their specialties being their famous beignets. To accompany these, make sure to check out their never-ending list of coffee drinks. Along with the food, Bayou is known for its lively chatter and charm. On Saturday mornings, you can grab a latte and stop by the farmers market across the street. Bayou is a perfect place for catching up with friends but not ideal for studying. While it is more of a sit-down than a grab-and-go place, Bayou offers an excellent alternative to Starbucks. 

Compass Coffee (4710 Langston Blvd, Arlington, VA)

Set in a nondescript building that used to be a bank, Compass Coffee doesn’t exactly look inviting from the outside. When you walk in, however, it is  immediately clear that the inside is full of everything the exterior lacks. The large room is lined with bright windows and light wood paneling. Plants in repurposed coffee tins adorn the variety of tables and chairs, which are perfect for conversing or studying. The ambience is vibrant and cheery, with a noise-level that is lively but not distracting. Their regular coffee drinks are tasty, but their specialty drinks–such as the oat milk chai latte–are where they really excel.