What it’s like to be at Delysées, the hot Washington coffee and tea bar with strict rules

Fred Naggar, 52, owns Delysées with his wife and partner Vanessa Larkaway, 37. Like many other chefs at Delysées, he’s a former culinary school instructor, which he thinks is the secret to mastering a…

What it’s like to be at Delysées, the hot Washington coffee and tea bar with strict rules

Fred Naggar, 52, owns Delysées with his wife and partner Vanessa Larkaway, 37. Like many other chefs at Delysées, he’s a former culinary school instructor, which he thinks is the secret to mastering a new skill: The secret to an amazing espresso blend, for example, is not just how well it roasts, but how quickly and evenly the roaster pulls out the beans. “It’s not so much about the flavor of the coffee—it’s the flavor of the extraction, the timing of its extraction, the instrument,” Naggar says. (The inside doesn’t pour out evenly, so he carries a coffee press nearby.) The easy-to-read charts and secret pods that he had on hand at our interview explained all of this in an easy way, which is of course why so many of his customers keep cup after cup of them in the store.

Earl Grey and Earl Grey Tea, a bar of one of the store’s sold-out flavored bars. Delysées sells them by the cup or large batch (about 30 cups).

In a jar of Bhangra, the deliciously spicy mistletoe elixir.

Vana Jangla (or “hearty purple”) is a soup he always makes that combines summer fruits with rice noodles; you can also order the stir-fry topped with cooked chicken or crunchy tofu, or make it as a salad. He uses xangla, a favorite ingredient of his grandmother, for it.

Whatever drink that he whipped up just now he slurps down directly from the glass.

Red leaf blossom tea (a blend of six varieties) on ice is served in a mug shaped like a pastel hand.

At a tiny counter-service bar, Naggar serves — in a butcher’s bag with a handmade label — reputedly by the grams, the more expensive size, and the loose, per-cup equivalent. (“I choose not to pay the full price for you to not be consuming at a full-size cup.”)

A mix of 100 percent white chocolate that he says only takes one hour to make.

This article appears in the November 2018 issue of Washingtonian.

Join the conversation!

Leave a Comment