Qualia Coffee is little more than a locally-owned Starbucks you couldn't be more mistaken. Qualia is a coffee shop. Starbucks is a retail store focused on a coffee product. Qualia sells coffee and a few pastries. You can get a cappuccino, a latte, tea, and coffee.Nothing more, nothing less. If you want a dark cherry frappucino with extra whip you know where to go.
Qualia Coffee is run by an area resident who knows coffee like we know beer. Actually, he knows a lot more about coffee than we could ever hope to know about beer. The owner, Joel, is in the shop every day of the week logging hours only small business owners can handle. What really makes the shop is that every bean in the place is roasted on site. You can't get a fresher cup of coffee inside the beltway.
It's great when you can live in the big city and find a nice locally-owned shop where you can meet the neighbors, have a great conversation with the employees, and swap some beer. That's right - Qualia recently introduced a beer swap. (You didn't think this was going to be only about coffee did you?) Every other Friday evening staff and neighbors get together after hours to enjoy a few cold ones and we don't mean ice coffee.
The rules are simple. Show up around 8p with a six pack of any craft, American brew or a sampling of your home brew. Drop said brew in the communal cooler. Start drinking - your beer or any other in the cooler.
We attended the swap this past Friday. Several of us braved the elements and we were able to sample 4 different beers, including a Scratch from Troegs and 2 home brews. There was more to sample but we had our share. In two weeks we'll be back for more. In the meantime, we'll drop by regularly for our caffeine fix.