Food

Gate 3 of the USNA was known for many years as “Bilgers’ Gate because that was the exit through which washed-up middies left the Academy. But that is ancient history. The latest news is that one of the two Gate 3 guard houses has been reborn as the new 1845 Coffee Shop, a place where not only midshipmen but the general public can stop for a customized coffee, tea, pastry or Navy-themed gifts.

1845 Coffee House. Photo courtesy of the author.

The two historic buildings are fraternal twins, each a little different from the other in architectural details. One serves as headquarters for the military personnel who check the ID/s of walk-ins to Academy grounds and the other has assumed the identity of the latest on-grounds attraction of the USNA. Orchestrated by the Naval Academy Business Services Division as a rare joint venture with nearby St. Johns College, the 1845 Coffee Shop is meant to provide jobs for students at the college who can apply for financial aid in addition to hourly wages earned as employees of the coffee shop.

According to Julie Stinemire, USNA manager of the café, this unique partnership has been mutually rewarding. “It has been a delight to work with the people at St. Johns and to provide an extra service to our midshipmen and the general public.” Six St. Johns students have worked regular hours at the café, although their schedules face disruption as a result of the coronavirus restrictions.

USNA Gate 3. Photo courtesy of the author.

Gate 3 is at the very end of Maryland Avenue, where it ends at Hanover Street. Initial response to the café has been positive. David Michaels, resident manager of the historic Chase Lloyd house at 22 Maryland Avenue, finds it a welcome and convenient diversion. Michaels says he and his director come often for a change in routine as well as the chance to chat with out-of-town visitors to Annapolis and the USNA. Another downtown resident, former Annapolis Mayor Richard Hillman, likes the Café but wishes more people were aware of its existence.

Patrick, the on-duty “barista” at the time of our visit, reported that both USNA staff and students were gradually discovering the convenience of the Café’s “grab and go” set up as well as the high quality of its product, provided by Ceremony Coffee, a local company. He also praised the muffins, breads, and scones that initially comprised the café’s menu but that has probably expanded since this writing to include more breakfast and some lunch options.

1845 Coffee House Interior. Photo courtesy of the author.

Patrick confided that currently the ranking favorite among Academy officials was the Gate 3 Mocha (espresso flavored with caramel, vanilla, chocolate syrups in whole milk). “Our customers want everything with ice,” he said. We tried the reigning favorite – with ice of course – and found it delicious.

In addition to flavored coffee drinks, there are lattes (Almond Joy, Pumpkin Spice, Dirty Chai), caffeine-free creations (Ambrosia: steamed milk and honey; White Wedding: vanilla half-and-half with caramel syrup and whipped cream) as well as hot chocolate, chocolate milk and apple juice for the younger set. One side of the café features a couple of umbrella tables overlooking Academy grounds and the Naval Academy Club next door. Add this to your options for outdoor excursions for young and old as well as a unique place to take visitors after a roam through the beautiful grounds of the Naval Academy.

Note: The café has a gift rack featuring USNA-themed caps, stuffed goat,cold cups, and mugs.

1845 Coffee Shop: 2 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis MD 21401. HOURS; Mon-Fri: 7 am-3 pm; Sat-Sun: 8-3 pm Contact: Naval Academy Retail Dining – 410-293-2611

Mary Lou Baker

Mary Lou Baker is a longtime food and travel writer who relishes the opportunity to tell her readers about good eating and drinking in the Chesapeake Bay area. Among her culinary credits are as a weekly columnist and restaurant reviewer for the Capital, (the Annapolis daily newspaper; a monthly columnist for Chesapeake Life Magazine; former food and wine editor for Baltimore Magazine; co-author of "Dining in Baltimore"; and co-author of Seafood Lover’s Chesapeake Bay: Restaurants, Markets, Recipes & Traditions, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the United States Naval Academy Gift Shop. A native New Englander, she is happy to have called Annapolis her hometown for most of her adult life. Cooking is her favorite thing to do, second only to sampling the talents of the chefs who make Annapolis and the Eastern Shore a mecca for food-loving visitors. She can be reached at [email protected]