Did you know that Ben Franklin was a big coffee nerd? Yep, Philadelphia’s founding father was once quoted as saying that coffee was the most valuable luxury available on the table (they spoke like that back then). So it’s no surprise that Philadelphians are equally as enthusiastic about the caffeinated drink. From the black bean behemoth La Colombe to micro-roasteries to diehard vegan spots, Philly is pouring some seriously good coffee. Here are 11 of our favorite places around town to try some of the city’s best.
When we have to get stuff done and actually focus (or at least look really busy while browsing Facebook), Chapterhouse is one of our favorite coffee shops to do it. There’s a ton of space, ample natural light on the first floor, and friendly baristas. The coffee is all organic, fair-trade, and it also has a funky latte menu with options like the Mexican mocha and black & tan, made with peanut butter and chocolate.
Started by lifelong friends and native Philadelphians Jonathan Adams and Damien Pileggi, Rival Bros is the brick and mortar location of its roasting operation (there used to also be a roving food truck). At Rival Bros., expect the standards: traditional drip coffee, a Chemex bar, and a variety of your standard espresso beverages. All of the coffee is prepared using beans roasted daily at its Frankford roastery and the shop also serves breads from High Street on Market.
A short button hook off South Street, Queen Village’s Ox Coffee is a throwback to what coffee shops used to be: a place where you could hang out with your friends and get a good cup of coffee without having to fight over a table with someone on their first cup and eighth hour of computer-time (there's no Wi-Fi at Ox anyway). Started by two friends, Ox focuses on serving high-quality coffee that is harvested, processed, and roasted using sustainable organic practices. Ox has also recently started selling its own line of micro-roasted coffees for the DIY coffee fans.
Kensington & Fishtown
Located in the site of a former elevator factory, ReAnimator’s Kensington cafe and roastery is a coffee lover’s dream. The rehabbed space is completely open, allowing customers to see (and smell) the entire roasting process. And while the space itself is cool, it’s the coffee that really makes ReAnimator stick out. Every year, the ReAnimator team travels to locales like Ethiopia, Guatemala, and Costa Rica to meet with its producers, brokers, and importers for super-involved quality control.
You could call Old City Coffee a hidden gem... it is, after all, pretty damn hard to find, even if you live in Old City. The 25-seat coffee shop of the same name is located on a tiny alleyway north of Market St between Second and Third Sts, and only serves batch-roasted Arabica coffee and Chest Teas, with a penchant toward strong flavors. Prices are also some of the lowest in the area too, with an XL coffee setting you back around $3.00.
Fishtown & other locations
With 18 shops around the country, La Colombe has to be one of Philly’s most famous (and successful) food exports. Of the five local shops around town, our favorite is the flagship cafe in Fishtown. Inside a former warehouse (we're sensing a theme here... ), the cafe includes a coffee lab where owner Todd Carmichael invented the draft latte and a micro-distillery, where La Colombe produces Different Drum rum, a coffee-infused craft sipping rum. Pick your poison on how you want to get your buzz.
Unlike some of the other roasters on the list that favor darker, bolder blends, Rittenhouse’s Elixir is about the lighter roasts, resulting in a less bitter, but slightly more acidic cup of coffee. If that sounds a little too hipster-coffee nerd for you, then you can stick to your cup of WaWa Kona. The rest of us will be enjoying a hand-pour at Elixr, stroking our well-groomed beards, listening to the latest Radiohead album.
Quality coffee has always been at the backbone of Greenstreet -- owners (and brothers) Tom and Chris Molieri first started as coffee roasters, only to open up a cafe when they realized how much they loved teaching new people about coffee. So at this Washington Square West cafe, don’t be afraid to ask questions. The Molieri brothers will be happy to help you find the perfect cup.
Turns out, vegan (and vegetarian) stuff isn’t half bad, which is what first got us hooked on Pennsport’s Grindcore House. Located on the ground floor of a row house, the vegan coffee shop is dripping with cool -- there’s dark wood, tin ceilings, and a heavy metal and hardcore soundtrack on rotation at all times. And since it’s a vegan shop, there's every choice of non-dairy milk you could want: soy, almond, rice, coconut.
If Bon Appétit editors are getting coffee drinks from here, you should probably follow suit. Menagerie serves up a fine cup of artisanal coffee and beverages -- think carefully selected espresso blends and hand-pours. There isn't the most available seating, but if you do nab a spot at one of the blonde wood tables or tree stumps in the front window, you'll be treated to a serene woodland vibe -- an appreciated respite from city life with a great cup of coffee to ruminate over.
Like most places in the Italian Market, Anthony’s has a story that traces back a few generations. The coffee shop and chocolate house is in the same spot where Anthony’s grandfather operated Anastasio's & Sons Produce for nearly 50 years. It timelessly focuses on the simple things done well: good espresso and Italian roasted coffee. Chocolates, cookies, and other signature sweets. We’re pretty sure it’s a spot that our grandads would have liked to grab a cup of coffee at 50 years ago, too.
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1. Chapterhouse Cafe & Gallery620 S 9th St, Philadelphia
2. Rival Bros Coffee2400 Lombard St, Philadelphia
3. OX Coffee616 S 3rd St, Philadelphia
4. ReAnimator Coffee900 N 4th St, Philadelphia
5. Old City Coffee, Inc.221 Church St, Philadelphia
6. La Colombe Torrefaction Rittenhouse Square130 S 19th St, Philadelphia
7. Elixr207 S Sydenham Ave, Philadelphia
8. GreenStreet Coffee Roasters1101 Spruce St, Philadelphia
9. Grindcore House1515 S 4th St, Philadelphia
10. Menagerie Coffee18 S 3rd St, Philadelphia
11. Anthony's Italian Coffee House903 S 9th St, Philadelphia
This Bella Vista cafe and gallery offers organic roasts, tasty treats, and funky lattes in a warm, brick-walled setting. Hosting numerous art exhibitions and readings, local artists flock to this homey locale for its friendly and quirky vibe. Options off the latte menu, like the Mexican mocha and black & tan, made with peanut butter and chocolate, are sweet and sure to please.
Founded by native Philadelphians, life-long friends and coffee aficionados Jonathan Adams and Damien Pileggi, Rival Bros is former mobile food truck turned brick and mortar. At Rival Bros., expect the typical craft coffee bar standards: traditional drip coffee, a Chemex bar, and a variety of your standard espresso beverages. All of the coffee is prepared using beans roasted daily at its Frankford roastery and the shop also serves breads from High Street on Market.
This brainchild of two life-long friends and veteran coffee roasters, Ox Coffee's a pint-sized labor of love that's set up shop in Queen Village. Regularly rotating vinyl records, Stumptown coffee on tap, and cute backyard space make Ox a quaint local favorite. There's no Wi-Fi at Ox, so come prepared to have a conversation.
ReAnimator's a chill brick and mortar cafe with locations and Kensington & Fishtown. They're also an online coffee purveyor, specializing in small-batch single origin and blended joe roasts from around the world. Snag the favorite brew of your choice and a cool mug and t-shirt when you buy one of their combo packs, or subscribe and get your brew of choice delivered to your door on the regular.
You could call Old City Coffee a hidden gem... it is, after all, pretty damn hard to find, even if you live in Old City. This Philly mini-chain's Old City location is a cute and cozy hole in the wall off Church St-- this tiny beanery and cafe hosts a simple seating area and outdoor benches perfect for lazy weekend people watching. Generously portioned lattes, bistro salads, and freshly baked muffins and pastries round out the cafe menu.
With 18 shops around the country, La Colombe has to be one of Philly’s most famous (and successful) food exports. Frothy cappuccinos in china cups pack the marble tables of Philly's preeminent bean-roasters, who've expanded their buzz from New York, to Seoul, and now to you with its seven proprietary coffee blends, plus cold-pressed iced coffee available for sale by the bottle.
Abandoning its Broad Street digs, Elixr's now set up a block away on that little stretch of Syndenham between Walnut & Chestnut. The menu -- like the space -- is larger, with Intelligentsia beans joining their existing PT & Southpaw espresso blends. The hipster friendly, rustic locale sports a) maybe the raddest bathroom entrance ever (a sliding industrial meat freezer door) and b) definitely the oddest marble coffee counter ever (it's from an old restroom at Penn).
Owners (and brothers) Tom and Chris Molieri's GreenStreet is a sweet neighborhood java shop serving up sustainably sourced brew, all roasted at their processing facility on Alter Street. The cozy Spruce Street cafe hosts GreenStreet's well-curated selection of single origin and blended house brews from around the world. Don’t be afraid to ask questions while browsing; the Molieri brothers will be happy to help you find the perfect cup.
This heavy metal coffeehouse serves vegan fare and strong house roasts in Pennsport. Located on the ground floor of a row house, Grindcore House's unpretentious digs and hardcore soundtrack contrasts with its decadent, no-dairy lattes (get yours with almond, soy, or coconut milk). Fill up on healthy, vegetable-packed deli sandwiches in addition to bagels and donuts from the pastry case.
This brightly lit Old City coffee shop serves up fine artisanal coffees and espresso-based beverages, including caramel macchiatos, pour-overs, and cappuccinos signed with beautiful latte art. It's mostly a grab-and-go shop, but if you're lucky enough to grab a seat at one of the blonde wood tables, you'll be treated to a serene woodland vibe -- an appreciated respite from city life with a great cup of coffee to ruminate over.
Like most places in the Italian Market, Anthony’s has a story that traces back a few generations. The coffee shop and chocolate house is in the same spot where Anthony’s grandfather operated Anastasio's & Sons Produce for nearly 50 years. Today, it continues to offer up a repertoire of expertly prepared espresso-based drinks, chocolates, cannoli, and paninis.