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Locally Wired: Vigilante Coffee

Vigilante Coffee - El Balsamo - El Salvador

We Drink A Lot of Coffee.

Being married to a Physician, I have to make sure there is always coffee available. Between the two of us, there is a lot of coffee being consumed, and absolutely none gets wasted. Even though I didn’t start drinking coffee until my mid-20s (I blame art school and a girlfriend at the time sending me down the wormhole), I’ve grown quite passionate about my favorite life-giving beverage. I’ve tried to seek out small, locally-based coffee roasters, as they usually have exceedingly high standards and are extremely knowledgeable about coffee.

Recently, Mark Holcomb of Periphery (one of my favorite bands, and based here in the area) started talking about Vigilante Coffee, a third-wave coffee roaster and purveyor based in Hyattsville, a city in Prince George’s County that is going through a lot of changes right now. (Here’s a recent piece in Washingtonian about Hyattsville’s urban renewal written by my friend, Dan Reed of Just Up The Pike.) The gents in Periphery seem to like Vigilante Coffee so much that they recently featured it in a studio update while working on their upcoming album, Periphery III: Select Difficulty:

Knowing that Mark is every bit as passionate as I am about good food and drink, I had to seek it out.

Last weekend, Jennifer gave a talk about Foot & Ankle Care at Crossover Church in Hyattsville, so I took the opportunity to ride along and check out Vigilante Coffee.

Vigilante Coffee: Is It So Good That It Incites Violence or Something?

Nah, man. Vigilante Coffee is named after its founder, Chris Vigilante:

Chris Vigilante’s (our founder) passion for coffee began while living and working in the Hawaiian Islands.  While in Hawaii, Chris worked directly with some of coffee’s finest professionals and developed direct relationships with farms on Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island. While working with Hawaiian producers, Chris went on to help establish the award winning farm of Manoa Valley (best in Oahu, 2010).
A few years after returning to the mainland, Chris decided that Washington, DC was the perfect place to start his own coffee roasting company.  With the help of friends and family,  Chris began forming a team of other passionate coffee-loving individuals to help lead Vigilante Coffee Company on a path to become the region’s premier specialty micro-roaster, specializing in direct-trade coffee.
Originally started in 2012 in DC’s H Street neighborhood, they grew into a Roastery on Hyattsville’s Gallatin Street. Hyattsville, a suburb in Prince George’s County, is undergoing an urban renewal, adding Busboys and Poets and other shops and boutiques, with Pyramid Atlantic moving there from Silver Spring this summer. Over the last couple of years, Vigilante Coffee has grown to provide coffee to many local shops and retailers in the area, including Silver Spring’s Bump n’ Grind, which has their own custom espresso blend from Vigilante in addition to a killer record collection.

Enough of this Babble. How’s the Coffee?

So in addition to picking up a cup of Cold Brew, I also bought a bag of Sumatra Mandheling. I tend to favor darker roasts as they have a fuller flavor and lower acidity (damn GERD!), so the Sumatra definitely caught my eye:

Sumatra coffees are famous for their peculiar flavor profile, low acidity, thick body, and rustic flavors that can often be described as earthy.

I checked the bag for a roasting date and saw that it had been roasted 2 days prior: another great sign.

Sumatra Mandheling | Vigilante Coffee
Sumatra Mandheling

Cold brew and bag of Sumatra in hand, I gleefully went home to grind some beans and make a pot of coffee. Without sounding over-enthusiastic, the Sumatra was a revelation: This coffee is definitely not what you’d get at Starbucks, my friends. I’ve had the Sumatra at Starbucks, and this was a lot more complex. I really enjoyed it.

Coffee To Your Door

Being enamored with the Sumatra Mandheling, I went back to Vigilante’s website to get more. In my search I noticed that they offer a Roaster’s Choice Rotating Coffee Subscription, where you can get fresh-roasted coffee shipped to you on a recurring basis. You can get coffee shipped to you every 1-4 weeks, with no obligation – you can modify or cancel at any time. Considering that we drink a lot of coffee, and that we’re often so busy that it’s hard to go to the shop, I quickly signed up to get a 5lb bag of coffee every 4 weeks. The total including shipping was $72, which averages out to $14.40 per pound. Not bad for coffee that was roasted and shipped the day before I received it.

The first bag I received this week was El Balsamo, a coffee from El Salvador that has tasting notes of caramel and butter. The tasting notes were spot on – delicious flavors of caramel and butter, extremely smooth with a bit of sweetness. I’ll definitely enjoy this for the next 4 weeks.

Vigilante Coffee

4327 Gallatin Street
Hyattsville, MD 20781
(301) 200- 3110

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