Oct 08, 2017David Blanchard

Hey! Crimson is a multifaceted food and beverage concept housed in the two lower floors of the POD Hotel in Chinatown, Washington, DC, featuring a downstairs whiskey bar in the evening, an upscale diner concept all day, and a full service coffee and espresso bar in the morning. The POD Hotel concept features small, yet well appointed rooms in the heart of the city, with the thought that guests have come to experience the city, not an oversized bedroom. The coffee shop and restaurants downstairs provide the perfect starting point for a city adventure, while still being open to the public at the second highest trafficked intersection in the greater DC area.

The Crimson-Blanchard’s partnership began with a phone call from the restauranteur, Ian Hilton, who was charged with opening the food and beverage concept within the POD Hotel. That phone call led to a meeting at the Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co. roasting and training facility in Richmond, Virginia, which led to the birth of the Crimson Coffee concept. Ian’s vision for the coffee bar and attached upscale diner was a juxtaposition of visual elegance and simple southern comfort food and drink. From a coffee perspective, that meant we wanted to create a sleek, clean coffee bar, visually, while developing a menu that was both enticing for the coffee aficionado, and pleasing for the average diner guest.

The equipment package for any coffee concept is incredibly important, both from a visual design perspective, and obviously for functionality. In sticking with the upscale diner theme, we decided to use Modbar espresso and steam units for the espresso bar. The mechanical elements of Modbar equipment lives under the bar, leaving the countertop completely clean and open with only the barista control towers mounted above bar. The espresso and steam heads, which were custom copper-plated to match the copper-heavy aesthetic of the bar, invoke the style of an old-fashioned soda bar. Backing up the espresso bar is a suite of Mahlkonig grinders, a Fetco batch brewer, hot water tower, and copper hand pour equipment.

Menu development and design focused on the continuing themes of elegant and simple. The shop offers a house batch brew - our Handshake, which is a full bodied, medium roast blend designed to be a crowd pleaser - rotating single origin batch brew and hand pours, and a full espresso menu including a rotating single origin espresso.

Because construction timelines ended up getting extended, the existing Crimson management team was able to come to the Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co. Education Lab to begin training before their space was even ready to receive coffee equipment. The BCRC Education Lab is outfitted with full equipment packages from multiple manufacturers, and allows clients to train on their specific equipment package before their shop opens, or in a lab environment, removed from the distractions of normal shop business. After equipment was installed on-site, our education team provided full staff training on site prior to opening, opening week on-site support, and ongoing training as Crimson enters its second quarter of operation.

Crimson is an example of what is possible when the Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co. team is involved from the idea and planning stages, throughout design, construction, and through opening day and beyond. We want our partners to have access to all the tools they need to open and operate a thriving, efficient coffee concept that is focused on quality and sustainability, so we always offer our knowledge, experience, and consultation at no cost to our clients.

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