Elliot Roper wrote a bit of local criticism today about the local coffee shop scene in Washington, D.C.: DC Translates to DeCaf (INeedCoffee.com). By and large, he is rather unimpressed with the neighborhood offerings. His criteria not only include the quality of the coffee, but also the accessibility of the shop (is a car required to get there?) and the degree of commercialization and frippery in the place.

He presents his candidates for the best coffeeshops in the D.C. area in tiers, much like the political pundits grade presidential candidates. And given his criteria, this means even notable espresso destinations such as Murky Coffee don’t grade above Joe Biden.

UPDATE: March 17, 2008
Apparently, even Murky Coffee is no longer available to D.C. residents. Or at least for those near its former Capitol Hill location. As the Washington City Paper followed up on today, Murky Coffee and its owner Nick Cho (the Portafilter.Net staple and himself no stranger to posting here) have run into hot water with the Washington, D.C. sales tax collector: Washington City Paper: News & Features: Blogs: Even More on Murky Coffee.

Reportedly, Murky owes some $427,395 in unpaid sales tax dating back to November 2004. The D.C. tax collector shut down their Eastern Market location late last month, with the possibility that other assets in the chain may be seized. Despite what you think of Nick and his business practices, this would still be a coffee lover’s loss even greater than the 2006 demise of SF’s Café Organica.

UPDATE: March 21, 2008
More about the demise and downfall of Murky Coffee and Nick Cho from the Washington Post: On Capitol Hill, Back Taxes Lead to Caffeine Deprivation – washingtonpost.com. Meanwhile, here’s Nick’s official response: murkycoffee: murky coffee capitol hill.