The coffee scene along the C&O Canal Towpath that stretches between Washington, DC and Cumberland, MD is very much alive and well. Thanks to an influx of new and trendy cafés that have popped up, combined with the tried and true that have been serving customers for years, you’re likely to find a specialty coffee that’s right for you. Here are eight of the best cafés to get your caffeine fix before hitting the trail (or maybe a pick me up along the way). Be sure to call before you go to hear about current hours and any COVID restrictions that might be in place. Look the part and shop The Road Trip Mercantile's C&O Canal Collection here.
1 - Georgetown, MD - Blue Bottle Coffee Company
Their first location in Washington DC, this Georgetown café is part of a well established brand that specializes in brewed single origin and blended coffees that carry on the most historic of missions. The “Takeaway Only” café is located on a cobblestone walkway and offers customers comfortable outdoor seating in a lovely setting. Hours of operation can be found in the link above.
1046 Potomac St. NW | Washington, DC 20007
2 - Palisades, Washington DC - Black Coffee
Located in the Palisades neighborhood of DC, less than a mile from the towpath, this café has earned its bragging rights. Known for their creative foam art, expansive menu options, done-right presentations...and...they serve dinner and cocktails! Kind of odd for a coffee shop, but there's a trendy feel here, and it just makes sense to keep the fun going into the night.
4885 MacArthur Blvd NW | Washington, DC 20007 | 202-333-1111
3 - Brunswick, MD - Beans in Belfry
Located in a century-old, restored church building nestled in the heart of downtown Brunswick, this café rewards you with the finest coffees & teas, excellent espresso, delicious coffee specialty drinks, and the best hot chocolate. You will be delighted to find a small retail space here which has C&O Canal themed merchandise available for purchase.
122 W. Potomac St. | Brunswick, MD 21716 | 301-834-7178
4 - Frederick, MD - Gravel and Grind
This coffee shop is off the beaten (tow)path, but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention this gem! Have you ever been to a coffee shop that sells bikes?! Located 13 miles Northeast of the towpath, this Frederick coffee and bike shop is what many refer to as “Instagrammable.” Known for their Specialty Waffles of the Day, you might be lucky enough to snag one with a Cranberry/Orange and gingerbread spiced butter with gingersnap crumble or maybe a Bananas Foster sauce that is creamy and decadent (and spiked with a bit of rum). Note: Waffles are available on Saturdays and Sundays only.
15 E. 6th Street | Frederick, MD 21701 | 240-741-9524
5 - Harpers Ferry, WV - Battle Grounds Bakery & Coffee
A variety of Iced Latte flavors, from Cookie Monster to Blackberry Parfait. This coffee shop doesn’t stop at coffee, they offer Lattes, Cappuccinos, Macchiatos, Americanos, Chai Tea, AND…wait for it…the best Affogatos ever! What’s an Affogato you say? It’s an espresso poured over ice cream...(Shut the front door!)
180 High St. | Harpers Ferry, WV 25425 | 304-535-8583
6 - Shepherdstown, WV - Lost Dog Coffee
Feeling like Hot Tea today? Lost Dog will not disappoint. They pride themselves on having delightful offerings for both tea and coffee drinkers. Order from their convenient walk-up window then stroll the town shops while enjoying a jolt of Java
134 E. German St. | Shepherdstown, WV 25443 | 304-876-0871
7 - Williamsport, MD - Desert Rose Café and Sweet Shoppe
I have to be honest, no one comes here just for a cup of coffee. There is a wide selection of lunch items and an assortment of delicious cakes to choose from for dessert. So, go ahead and carb-up. Their great service combined with the folksy atmosphere makes it a must stop.
2 E. Potomac St. | Williamsport, MD 21795 | 301-223-6400
8 - Cumberland, MD - Cafe Mark
I love coffee, but let’s talk BREAKFAST! In the heart of Cumberland’s historic district, Cafe Mark offers more than a cup of joe. Get a hearty meal before hitting the trail with a wide selection of breakfast and lunch options. Grab a seat outside or dine in and enjoy the relaxing (art filled) atmosphere.
37 Baltimore St. | Cumberland, MD 21502 | 301-777-0037
Author: Maria Lane
Maria Lane is Co-owner of The Road Trip Mercantile. She enjoys the creative process of designing merchandise to promote the C&O CANAL and the GREAT ALLEGHENY PASSAGE. View and shop her latest creations HERE.