There was a time when many would disagree on what was the best coffee shop in the city. Or they would say La Columbe, because Todd Carmichael was a major part of the “Second Wave” of coffee (so was Starbucks). Now though, there’s a third wave – where baristas and shop owners are embracing the crafting of the morning mug, almost likened to a slow food movement. Shops are opening up that put all the love in their hearts into the pour of your cup. – Suzanne Woods
1500 E Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19147-6323
Going to B2 is almost like going to a bar–sans booze. Head barista Nancy Trachtenberg had one of the premier counters with her first cafe, Benna’s, at 8th and Wharton. B2 has more of the same and is right on Passyunk by SWEAT Gym, the Pub on Passyunk East and a myriad of boutiques. The baristas also blend up a variety of healthy smoothies, so you can start feeling yourself again if you spent too much time on the other side of the street the night before.
Residents of Society Hill scored big with the opening of Bodhi by 2nd and Lombard. A sanskrit word for enlightenment, it should be the way everyone starts their day. There’s a purity at play here, demonstrated with the use of reclaimed wood and raw materials. It’s like a blank canvas ready to be painted. Brooklyn’s well-respected Stumptown is the roaster of choice. They are equipped to hand pour per cup. They also cold brew quite possibly the best iced coffee in the city. The cafe just entered partnerships with boutique grocer, Green Aisle, Betty’s Tasty Buttons, and Katie Cavuto of Healthy Bites. Look for their wares there.
Chapterhouse Cafe & Gallery
620 S. 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Though many will grab their beverage and go, Chapterhouse lends itself to staying a while. The 60+ seats are almost sure to be filled by 11 am. The owners have the right idea about purchasing power: instead of just dealing with one purveyor for baked goods, they deal with several and procure what they feel are the best products from each of them. All the milk is straight out of Lancaster. Specialty beverages are available, like Mexican Coconut Smoothies, with banana and rice milk, or an Apply Bobby – an Italian soda with apple and caramel. They work with fair trade Equal Exchange and local roaster, One Village out of Souderton.
Rays Cafe and Tearoom
141 N. 9th st
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Coffee experts around the city were kind enough to share that this is where they get their coffee when they’re not brewing it themselves. As of now, this Taiwanese café is the only one brewing coffee via siphon in order to extract the full flavor of the grind. They serve lunch and dinner on the cheap, and with a smile, and they even write you a little love letter on their website, “We care about your health as much as you do by personally selecting only the finest of ingredients.”
In our city – where you can’t walk 15 feet without seeing a café – Ultimo is one you might just bike across the city for. Their Cup o’ Counter Culture coffee is a magical one. When available, they offer what’s been touted as the best coffee in the world, La Hacienda Esmeralda, from Panama. They carry confections from the popular boutique bakery, Betty’s Speakeasy, like milk chocolate and lavender scones. From 7 a.m. till 11 a.m., they serve coffee “on tap” for the in-and-out crowd, made strictly by a chemex- not a coffee maker on site. After 11, all coffee is just brewed to order. They even host educational “cuppings” on Friday nights at 5 if you want to learn a little more about your favorite day-starter. Finally, Ultimo shares space with a craft beer takeout shop BREW, just in case you weren’t sold yet.