Vigilante Coffee is the brainchild of owner/roaster Chris Vigilante. Vigilante cut his teeth in Hawaii, where he learned to brew and got a crash course in “the art of serving coffee,” before moving to D.C. Hawaii is also where he grew to appreciate supporting small coffee farmers. Vigilante Coffee’s beans are sourced from around the world — from Indonesia, Ethiopia, to Brazil. They have two locations in the DMV and one in Oceanside, California.
OUR ARTICLEBY: Andrew Williams Contributing writer
There’s no shortage of quality beans in the DMV and Vigilante Coffee is no exception. Located just beyond the District with locations in Hyattsville (Roastery and Cafe) and College Park (Cafe), Maryland, this roastery delivers delicious artisanal brew made from organic and fair-trade beans.
They drive home their support of small farmers — a core part of their ethos — with a diverse selection of specialty coffees, with beans sourced from around the world, including Brazil, Columbia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico, and Rwanda. They are all available for purchase online, though we encourage you to take a detour to their digs, if for no other reason than to explore a less traversed part of the D.C. region.
One of our favorites is the “Indonesia Java Hendra” which features notes of brownie brittle, baker’s chocolate, and blood orange. It’s balanced acidity, a light body, and super juice. Gotta have it.
The other star of the show is its impressive menu of offerings, including an array of coffee options; healthy bowls; specialty drinks and teas; snacks and juices; and bagels.
Of course, appreciating good coffee goes well beyond taste — the story is equally as important as the product. Vigilante’s founder Chris cultivated his love of java as a barista at boutique shops in Downtown Honolulu. It was there that he received a crash in brewing, “the art of serving coffee,” where he gained a deep appreciation for the “seed to cup” experience of the industry, and where he came to champion collaboration with small coffee farmers.
Chris eventually arrived in D.C. in 2012 with only a 1994 4runner (much love for the vintage wheels) with more than 300,000 miles logged and a tiny investment from a friend. Embracing the art of the hustle, Chris acquired a used 5-pound roaster and poured everything in launching his company from his back porch. This was the foundation for the present-day iteration of Vigilante Coffee.
Today, their brand’s footprint has expanded to Oceanside, California (Roastery and Cafe). Though, their first foray into brick and mortar retail (having organically evolved the company through farmer’s markets, Pop-ups, and distribution to local businesses, was the modest café & roastery in Hyattsville before opening its cafe in College Park — each location designed with an industrial aesthetic.
Vigilante incorporates elements of wood and concrete and pays homage to Chris’ Hawaii beginnings as a roaster with “Aloha” and “Peace” signage, a colorful skateboard display, and a rich tapestry of plant life hanging from its ceilings, arranged on its walls and positioned throughout each space as decorative details. The roastery fully embraces the low-key island lifestyle and CYTIES is here for it.
The rest, as they say, is history.
We love everything they stand for and encourage you to check them out during your next trip to the area.
Vigilante’s Hyattsville location is a 30-minute drive from the middle of Downtown D.C.
The Vigilante Coffee gear is dope. Peep the Tie Dye Vanagon Tee and auburn Vigilante Beanie.
They sell Root Beer floats. Yep.