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Indie coffeehouse 29th Parallel brews up expansion with new Vienna shop

After more than a decade on Church Street, Caffè Amouri has some competition in the Town of Vienna’s independent coffeehouse scene.

As shared by Vienna Business Association Executive Director Peggy James on the Vienna VA Foodies Facebook page, newcomer 29th Parallel Coffee opened its doors just down the road in Windover Square (106 Lawyers Road), the shopping center occupied by Plaka Grill and Papa John’s Pizza, on Nov. 21.

While they share a similar neighborhood-centered mindset, 29th Parallel differs in focusing on pour-over or hand-drip coffee and bringing in a variety of roasters, while Caffè Amouri roasts its own beans.

Co-owner Amir Khalil describes the shop as “counterculture” to chains like Starbucks, catering more to coffee connoisseurs who might prize craft over convenience.

“Everything is to-go, very fast. We take our time [with an] artisan kind of coffee,” Khalil told Tysons Reporter last week. “You come in, you order, and it takes a couple of minutes, but if you don’t have that [time], we have a different way to please that client.”

29th Parallel also has a coffee shop in Fairfax Station Square on Ox Road that opened in 2017.

The name comes from the 29th parallel south circle of latitude, which passes through countries like Brazil, Australia, and South Africa with strong coffee cultures. It also coincidentally nods to the business’ original Fairfax location on Route 29, according to Northern Virginia Magazine.

Like the rest of the food service industry, 29th Parallel has grappled with its fair share of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, surviving by pivoting to online ordering and reducing its operating hours to manage labor costs.

However, the team also saw an opportunity to expand. Drawn to Vienna’s small-town atmosphere, they landed a space previously filled by Oreck Vacuum.

“I think this is a great fit for the community here,” Khalil said.

Like its Fairfax Station counterpart, the Vienna 29th Parallel gets beans from a couple of primary roasters — in this case, Delaware-based Brandywine Coffee Roasters and Black & White Coffee Roasters from North Carolina, with Annapolis-based Ceremony Coffee Roasters as another mainstay.

Starting next year, the shop will also rotate through different guest roasters, including Corvus Coffee Roasters and, potentially, Norway’s Tim Wendelboe, who Khalil describes as “a rock star of coffee.”

In choosing its distributors and vendors, 29th Parallel emphasizes community-based, independent businesses as much as possible, even bringing in milk from Amish farmers in Pennsylvania.

“It’s just how the economy and money stays within the community,” Khalil said. “…Locals coming to support local coffee shops, and we support local distributors and all those things. It’s all connected.”

Currently in soft-opening mode, 29th Parallel operates from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Khalil expects to have a grand opening sometime around Christmas or New Year’s Day, after which the shop will expand to regular 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. hours and offer a full menu of beverages and food, including sandwiches and pastries.

The gradual rollout stems in part from the global supply chain issues that have disrupted industries from grocery stores to automobile manufacturers. For 29th Parallel, those issues have affected product deliveries as well as the construction process. Replacing the building’s HVAC system, for instance, took two months, according to Khalil.

In the meantime, Khalil hopes community members in Vienna and the surrounding area will stop by to see what makes 29th Parallel different.

“People really loved it over there [in Fairfax], and I’m hoping that is the case here,” he said.

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