Confetti cafe brings sweet treats to Tenleytown
AU alum-run business offers student discounts and cookie creations
Satisfying a sweet tooth in Tenleytown just got a whole lot easier.
Confetti, a new cafe located just two blocks away from the Tenleytown Metro stop, distinguishes itself with ornately decorated sugar cookies, chocolatey gourmet lattes and five varieties of rice crispy treats. What’s more, American University students who show their IDs can enjoy a 10 percent discount off of their bills.
One especially noteworthy offering is the cherry chai latte. The drink is available iced or hot, with a rich globe of melting chocolate or a flavored glitter bomb to considerably sweeten the deal.
“It’s like a surprising combination, but I really recommend it,” said Elisa Frost, Confetti’s co-founder, chef and manager. “I think it tastes a little bit like cherry pie.”
The cafe also offers savory treats.
“My favorite item is the turkey and swiss panini,” Frost said. “We have really good breakfast burritos, too.”
But how did the Confetti come into being? Frost, a 2013 AU undergrad alumna, jumped from academia to entrepreneurship and made her tantalizing vision a reality.
“I may be guilty of being a triple Eagle,” Frost said. “I was in the inaugural School of International Services class of Global Scholars.”
Frost went on to earn her master’s degree from SIS in 2015, and stayed at AU for two more years as a Global Scholars program coordinator.
Elise Plonski, the events and PR manager at Confetti, is an AU alumna as well. She graduated from the School of Communication in 2021.
“I found Confetti just as a customer,” Plonski said. “I started working part-time and realized it’s fun to be here. Everything I learned in my [AU] program has come to life.”
This cafe also doubles as a venue for events, accommodating meetings and celebrations of all sorts. And though one might never realize it at first glance, Confetti got its origins as a rental space.
“Confetti was started as a pay-to-play space for people to come and do parties and playdates with little kids,” Plonski said. “Coffee was the side element; it was never the focus.”
After the coronavirus pandemic hit, that business model proved to be less-than ideal.
“We opened in the pandemic, so of course everyone had to change gears,” Plonski said. “That really set forth Confetti as you see it today.”
The cafe served its first customer on Dec. 5, 2020.
“We doubled the size of our kitchen,” Frost said. “Then the cafe really took off.”
In essence, the offerings and atmosphere of Confetti are designed to brighten their customers’ days with friendly faces and sweet treats.
“Whenever anyone’s having a bad day, we always offer them cookies,” Plonski said. “Like, being able to give cookies is perfect, right? You can’t fix anything without a cookie.”
Tenleytown locals have started to take notice.
“It’s really fun and friendly,” regular customer Jessica Brown said. “It’s a great spot, welcoming and delicious.”
Unlike Starbucks’s nondescript Siren trademark, this cafe features a mascot with whom almost any local kid will identify: Betty the Confetti Yeti – made to emulate Tenleytown’s annual neighborhood Yeti Hunt.
To bring Betty to life, Frost went all in with her decorating expertise, even producing a children’s picture book — available for view on the cafe’s website — featuring hand-painted illustrations as a backdrop to her own artfully-frosted cookies.
“As we were talking about it, we realized that ‘confetti’ and ‘yeti’ rhymed,” Frost said. “So it only made sense that we create a character that played into that.”
Everything about Confetti — edible Yeti characters included — is meant to make the community feel at home, including AU students.
“It’s a home-cooked, baked-good kind of thing,” Plonski said. “When you’re in college, that’s the one thing you miss all the time, right? There’s nothing better.”