Hub for Social Interaction and Pedestrian Activity

Hub for Social Interaction and Pedestrian Activity

Compass Coffee is a hit in Fairfax City.

Participants in the ribbon cutting included (from left) Chris Bruno, Councilmembers Jon Stehle and Tom Ross, David Meyer and Michael Haft, plus Steven Pongrace (third from right).

Participants in the ribbon cutting included (from left) Chris Bruno, Councilmembers Jon Stehle and Tom Ross, David Meyer and Michael Haft, plus Steven Pongrace (third from right). Photo by Bonnie Hobbs/The Connection

Compass Coffee hit the ground running, becoming an instant hit in Fairfax City as soon as it opened this spring in the Point 50 shopping center. And during its recent ribbon cutting, City officials and customers alike sang its praises.

“We’re thrilled that Compass Coffee has come to Fairfax City,” said Mayor David Meyer. “Coffee shops do more than serve beverages – they’re special places where people meet to make friendships and share new ideas. They create a third place outside of work and home.”

Furthermore, he said, “Compass Coffee at Point 50 in our Northfax activity center will bring people together as the City continues to support commercial development in this area. With the opening of Compass Coffee and other new businesses at this center, Point 50 will become a hub for social interaction and pedestrian activity.”

Agreeing, Fairfax’s Assistant Economic Development Director Danette Nguyen said, “Coffee shops are where business is conducted, friends communicate and families come together over a cup of Joe.”

Co-owners Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez are former Marines. “We became friends at Camp Lejeune and we both served in Afghanistan,” said Haft. “And we’re very proud of our coffee.” 

The pair has 14 Compass Coffee cafés, including three in Virginia. They import beans from all over the world, roasting them at their flagship shop in Washington, D.C., to create a variety of espresso drinks, signature blends, cold brews and other handcrafted beverages, including teas.

“Our Cardinal Blend is our most popular coffee,” said Haft. “And we have a whole barista training program teaching coffee-making, customer-service, managing and leadership skills to those interested so we can promote from within.”

The Fairfax City café is at 10400 Fairfax Blvd. at the University Drive intersection and also serves fresh pastries and other snacks. Hours are Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Saturday-Sunday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. 

“Buildout took 12 weeks – our fastest ever,” said Haft. “The Fairfax City team was fantastic; everybody was amazing and very professional. We chose Fairfax because it’s a beautiful City and our customers are here. A lot of people from Fairfax work in downtown D.C. and kept asking, ‘When are you coming to my neighborhood?’ So we knew this would be a popular place to be.”

And, he added, Compass couldn’t have had a better reception here. “Our vibe is a fun, community-gathering space. We get young families with kids, college students hanging out and multiple generations here having coffee,” said Haft. “We designed and built all our furniture. And not only do we roast our own coffee, but we also blend our own teas – and even the coffee flavorings, such as the vanilla syrup and chocolate sauce. We want everything to be as good as the coffee.” 

For café Manager Steven Pongrace, being here means coming home. “I’ve lived in Fairfax for over 15 years,” he said. “And I’m excited to connect with this community in a real, tangible way. My team is committed to delivering legendary service to every customer. We can’t wait to build a strong community of regulars at the Point 50 shopping center.”

He said customers were happy to see Compass open. “Before then, we introduced ourselves to various City organizations to let them know we were here,” said Pongrace. “And we gave gift cards to all the teachers in the four City schools. Now, word has spread that we’re here to offer some good coffee and, hopefully, a great experience. As more people learn about us, we see new faces in our café daily.”

Tabitha Niemann is a regular at the Compass in Ballston but checked out the Fairfax location while in the City visiting her parents. “I like that it’s locally owned, the coffee is good and the overall vibe of the store,” she said. “The employees are friendly, the music’s good and the café is bright and airy with lots of natural light.” 

And that’s on purpose, said Joel Shetterly, head of design for Compass. “It’s about providing connection over coffee,” he explained. “From the second you walk in the door, everything – from the music to the incredible customer service our teams provide, to how the light fills the café, to how the peak-roasted coffee tastes in your cup – just clicks.”

Niemann was enjoying a mocha, while her dad, Shawn, had an oatmeal cappuccino. “It’s the perfect balance of oat milk and coffee with a little bit of foam,” he said. “It reminds me of Italy.”

Her mom, Kristin, was savoring a hot chocolate. “It’s my favorite,” she said. “They mix the chocolate and milk first – rather than pouring the milk into the chocolate – and it’s just the best.”

Meanwhile, Ra Davis was sipping his iced cherry blossom cold brew. “It’s flavorful,” he said. “And I’d recommend this place to others because it’s clean and lively and the coffee’s good.”

City Councilmember Tom Ross called Compass “a wonderful addition to the Fairfax community,” and Economic Development Director Chris Bruno agreed.

“It’s a business that values the quality of its product, space and community,” said Bruno. “Compass provides an important piece of the vision for our City’s Northfax area and is a welcoming space for people to be together and enjoy exceptional coffee.”

Steven Pongrace (in glasses, beard and gray shirt) waiting on some customers. Photo by Bonnie Hobbs/The Connection