Thursday, March 17th, 2011
“If you go to Asmara, Eritrea, you will see that every corner has coffee. I grew up hanging around coffee shops and it made me love coffee so much. We, Eritreans, drink mostly espresso. My mother started drinking espresso at 16. Now, she is 84 and still drinks one every day. I started drinking when I was younger than her, at ten years old. Now, I drink five espressos a day.
“I lived in Eritrea until there was revolution and other bad stuff happened. I had to leave my country and go to Sudan. I used to be a professional cyclist in Eritrea. We would go 120 miles or more at a time. We were, what you Americans call, Army Strong! I loved the sport and it let me see all of the beautiful countryside of Eritrea. Biking is a very popular sport in Eritrea, and a lot of people knew who I was, especially the little kids. I had to leave the cycling when I went to Sudan. From there, I had an uncle in San Francisco who helped me to come to the United States.
“When I came here, I had all kinds of jobs. I worked in Reno as a cashier in a casino. I don’t like gambling, to tell you the truth, but it was still a lot of fun. My friends lived in Washington, D.C. and they encouraged me to come and visit. When I came, I met my wife and moved here in 1990. We got married one year later.
“After working for a few years in parking and then doing room service, I decided to open my own coffee cart in 1997. I opened close to the State Department, Diplomatic Security, and the Pan-American Health Organization because I thought it would be nice business and people would come to get coffee from me. It was my first time running a business and I didn’t know my customers yet, so it was a little bit hard at first. I knew how to make the coffee, though, so people started coming to me. After one week, things got easier and easier. Since 1997, I have been in the same spot. One time, I tried to move to the other side of Virginia Avenue, but it didn’t work. Even though it was so close, I guess people didn’t want to cross the street. I came back and things have been great.
“I really love the people who work around here. They are beautiful people and we are like family. They come to me and we talk and laugh. The people at Diplomatic Security give me nice little things like hats and pins. I even have two friends from the State Department who park my car every morning, so that I can work and not worry about parking because it is difficult to find spots around here. See, me and my customers have come to know each other that much. Even though I work in this small space by myself, I have my friends around and am always busy, so I never feel alone.”
Musie’s cart is located on Virginia Avenue NW between 21st and 22nd St. NW.