Saturday, January 3, 2015

Philly's Best Coffee

Happy New Year! Here's something to keep Philly locals and visitors awake in 2015 -- my list of Philly's best coffee shops. Who needs Seattle or Portland? Let me know your thoughts regarding type I and type II errors.

[***NOTE WELL:  The live and evolving list lives HERE.  Check it out for the latest.  The list below is indicative, but it is frozen and will soon be outdated.]

Philly's Best Coffee

The written comments are sometimes (often?) negative, to give a feel for what's holding a place back, but all are are definitely worth exploring. Awards "T," "t," and "!" are for things beyond fine coffee. "T" means enough tables/room to work comfortably for a few hours. "t" is a less-good "T" (tables but not so many, room but not so much, whatever). "!" is for unusual quality, barista skill or overall vibe.

Rittenhouse / Center City:
Elixr (T!), 207 S. Snydenham. Just right.
Joe (t), 1845 Walnut. NYC outpost. Don't bother with the outpost of the outpost, Joe at Drexel in University City, which has no electrical outlets.
La Colombe (T!), 130 S. 19th. Hats off to the great Philly pioneer. Recent makeover very nice. See Fishtown outpost below.

Old City:
Menagerie (T!), 18 S. 3rd. Light and airy design.
Old City (T!), 221 Church. Like Chestnut Hill Coffee below, just plain comfortable.

Society Hill / South Street / Queen Village / Bella Vista:
Shot Tower (T!), 524 Christian. Great shots from a massive custom La Marzocco.
Bodhi (t), 410 S. 2nd @ Lombard.
Ox, 616 S. 3rd. Plenty of room and benches for socializing, but no place to work unless you score the lone table in the back.

Center City South:
Bodhi, 263 S. 10th @ Spruce.
Greenstreet, 1101 Spruce.
Toast (T), 1201 Spruce.
Square One (T), 249 S. 13th @ Spruce. On a seedy block. All of center city Philly looked that way in 1980; now mainly just that block.
Plenty (T!), 1602 Spruce. Warm and cozy; decent cafe menu too.

Northern Liberties / Fishtown / Kensington:
La Colombe (T!), 1335 Frankford. Some might say it's over-the-top, but I'm not complaining. Rum bar as well. See original Rittenhouse location above.
One Shot (T!), 217 W. George. 
ReAnimator (haven't been there yet), 310 Master
ReAnimator (haven't been there yet), 1523 E. Susquehanna Avenue
Gryphon (opening soon I hope), 100 W. Oxford (Oxford Mills). See original Wayne location below.
Steap and Grind (haven't been there yet), 1619 Frankford.

Chestnut Hill / Germantown:
Chestnut Hill Coffee (T!), 8629 Germantown. Just plain comfortable.

Fitler Square:
Rival Bros. (t!), 2400 Lombard. Very cool in a hard-to-describe way.
Ultimo (T), 2149 Catharine. A little sterile.

South Philly:
Chhaya (T!), 1819 E. Passyunk. Good staff, tall tables, short tables, sofas, everything, including table service.
Ultimo (t), 1900 S 15th. Oasis in a slightly sketchy neighborhood. Beer as well; good Belgians. Cheap tables and chairs, without many outlets.

University City:
Hubbub (T!), 38th & Spruce. Undergrads don't annoy me; don't go if they annoy you.
Lovers and Madmen (T!), 28 S. 40th. Good University City vibe. To be taken over by Green Line in 2015!
Green Line (t!), 43rd & Baltimore. Good University City vibe. University City outposts at 44th & Locust, 34th & Powelton.

Main Line (Suburbs):
Gryphon (T!), Lancaster Avenue, Wayne. I'm there most mornings 6:45-?. See city location above.

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