Housing Complex

WiFi Backlash Continues With New Filter Coffee in Foggy Bottom

Coffee, hold the wifi.

If you've been to Filter, the tiny craft coffee place tucked away on 20th Street north of Dupont Circle that's apparently the best in the city, you probably haven't been able to find a seat, it's that full of people tapping away on their laptops. Its new location in Foggy Bottom, scheduled to open in April at 1919 Pennsylvania Avenue NW (but behind the building, on I Street between 19th and 20th), will have—brace yourself—no wireless Internet.

Other coffeeshops have started to turn off the WiFi on weekends in order to dissuade the laptopping squatters (UPDATE, Saturday, 7:30 a.m.Peregrine Coffee's new 14th Street location has also never had wireless). But Filter's owner Rasheed Jabr says he's going cold turkey with the new location, which will be only slightly larger than his current one.

"I would like to have the space for people to come sit, chat, have a cup of coffee whenever they want to, rather than a sea of laptops," Jabr says, noting that he's catering more to Foggy Bottom's international crowd than its students. "I promote conversation and reading because those are good things. I'd rather people walk into my coffeeshop and see that it's busy because it's busy, rather that it's busy because people have been sitting in front of their laptop for three hours."

Of course, people may still hang around and read textbooks for three hours. But the folks who are attracted to WiFi like a plant is to sunlight will have to find it somewhere else.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Dan

    Because what would make any coffee house better is replacing laptops with even more people loudly talking about politics, that thing their cat did, and their latest adventures in potty training their kid.

  • drez

    Better than Qualia? No way.

  • anon

    I don't touch free wifi -- unlimited dataplan and an Android device and I'm good

  • anon 2: electric boogaloo

    Why, Dan?
    Option A: Two people come in and buy two coffees, sit down aty a table and talk while drinking their coffee (lets say 15 minues), and leave.
    Option B: One person comes in and buys a coffee, sits down at the same table with his or her laptop tapping away for 3 hours, and leaves.
    If you were the business owner, which would you choose?

  • Mike

    Alienating your customers buy cutting off Wi-Fi is the wrong solution to the problem. Monetizing your Wi-Fi through a service like, Hotspotrevenue.com and using it as a tool to upsell & retain your loyal customers is more effective than just shutting it off in hopes of turning tables. Full disclosure: I have a vested interest in the aforementioned company.

  • noodlez

    YO MIKE SOMETIMES IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT MONEY! SOMETIMES IT IS ABOUT HOPE, FAITH AND THE PRODUCT YOU ARE PUSHING. IF HIS COFFEE AND ATMOSPHERE IS THAT GOOD THEN HE DONT NEED SOME GIMMICKY BULLSHIT LIKE HOTSPOTREVENUE.COM TO SELL HIS WARES.

    THE GREED OF FOLKS OF YOUR ILK IS RUINING THIS COUNTRY!

    @DAN-IF YOU WANT QUIET WHILE DRINKING YOUR HOT BEVERAGE STAY YOUR ASS HOME.

    COFFEE SHOPS AND TEA HOUSES ARE CONVERSATIONAL SPIZZOTS. WHEN DID THEY BECOME FREE WI-FI CENTRAL???

  • DupontDude

    Yeah, squatting in a coffeeshop with your laptop for three hours was cute in 2005.

    Now, it's just annoying to walk into a place and find nary a seat in sight because of all the laptop-zombies colonizing the place like a bad yeast infection.

  • Christine

    I'm with you, DupontDude.

  • anon

    Someone please enlighten me -- what't the difference between parking in a coffee shop with a laptop (with or without free wifi) vs parking in a coffee shop with an iPad?

  • http://fromraewithlove.com/ Rae

    Love this!!! Such a good retraction. I worked in one of the well-known city spots for laptop squatters and just never understood it. As a result, I rarely if ever am out with my laptop in a coffeeshop or anywhere else, parking for hours. Not to mention - what did happen to the lost art of conversation & reading! Bravo! I'll be sure to stop by the new location!

  • H Street Landlord

    Great post Noodlez

  • Bluftooni

    @anon - Is all that you're taking away from this article that laptop users are not welcome but iPad users are free to do as they please? The term "laptops" is being used generically. Do you feel enlightened?

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