Origins of M.E. Swing Co
The M.E. Swing Co. was established in Washington, D.C. by M.E. Swing and his son, Edward Swing, in 1916. Father and son found a ready market for the premium Arabica beans which were imported from Africa, Latin America, and the Far East. In 1920, the company opened its now historic Mesco Coffee Roasters building at 1013 E Street.
The E Street retail store, with its hand-crafted, gleaming mahogany interior and bright-red, wooden coffee bins occupied the first floor of the Mesco Building. On the second floor, M.E. Swing made hand-dipped chocolates, and on the third floor, a huge German roaster turned out hundreds of pounds of expertly roasted coffee every day. The smell of roasted coffee beans became part of the downtown experience for the next 70 years.
Fresh Roasted Coffee
The fresh-roasted coffee was cup-tested. Small samples would be roasted, brewed, and tasted to test the quality and freshness of the beans. After the complete batch was roasted, there would be another cupping to ensure quality and consistency. Edward Swing was known and recognized throughout the industry for his expertise in roasting and blending beans. The Mesco Blend (from M-E-Swing-Co.) was given a patent in 1918 and is still one of Washington’s best selling coffees.
The coffee business boomed in the Roaring 20’s, which saw D.C.’s E Street corridor filled with fashionable stores, soda fountains, restaurants, and clanging streetcars. Throughout the Depression of the 30’s, and then the difficult war years, M.E. Swing continued to roast delicious coffee. By the 50’s, Swing’s Coffee was practically a D.C. institution. Ambassadors, members of Congress, and the professional and working people of Washington came regularly to buy Swing’s fresh-roasted coffee beans. As the decades passed, Swing’s has become a D.C. tradition, passed down from parents to children.
The now legendary Swing’s Coffeehouse was opened in 1994 at 1702 G Street, across from the historic Old Executive Office Building. Swing’s at G Street is filled with the original mahogany and mirrored fixtures, vintage burr grinders, wooden coffee bins, and counter-weight scales that graced the Mesco Building on E Street. Today’s M.E. Swing Coffee Roastery, located in Alexandria, VA, still operates classic German roasters, with the same craft and artistry as before, continuing the Swing’s tradition to this day.