One More Reason To Eschew Starbucks For Your Friendly, Neighborhood, Locally Owned Coffee Shop

coffeebeansSlightly disturbing (if not at all surprising) news from the Wall Street Journal: Apparently, in order to help increase efficiency, Scott Heydon, Vice President of Starbucks‘ Global Strategy Dept. is employing Japanese-style robotic reorganizing of the counter area. The more we read about all these Brave New World-esque policies being implemented – “lean efficiency techniques” that will allow each barista an entire 8 seconds of “chit-chat time”, not to mention Heydon’s quote that the company is “[...] on a never ending quest to get to perfection,” – the more creeped out we get. We’ve already lamented the pitiful iced-coffee situation at Wawa, so in the spirit of finding a decent cold caffeinated beverage with some more local flavor, here is a very short list* a few of our personal favorite alternatives to Big Coffee.

· The Bean Cafe 615 South Street, (215) 629-2250
We’re not sure why, but the Bean Cafe on South Street evokes very strong feelings in one of our interns here, namely because she spent much of her angst-filled youth chain-smoking and reading (what she hoped were impressive) piles of books at this establishment. It’s open pretty late, has really cute baristas, and is always showcasing local art on the walls.

· Old City Coffee 221 Church Street, (215) 629-9292
This locally bred coffee shop has been going strong for 25 years now. Started by Ruth Isaac as a one-person operation in 1984, it quickly opened its Reading Terminal Market branch as well. With an information-filled website and a knowledgeable staff, Old City Coffee is a connoisseur’s coffee shop.

· The Last Drop 1300 Pine Street, (215) 893-9262
The Last Drop is an ideal place to meet someone for a lengthy chat, or sit around for a rainy afternoon (which we’ve seen a lot of so far this year). My personal favorite online review simply states, and I quote “IIGHT PLACE … JUST KINDA WHATEVA. MAD NERDZ.” – pretty much sums it up I guess (except for the “just kinda whateva” part).

· The White Dog Cafe 3420 Sansom Street, (215) 386-9224
The White Dog Cafe has the perfect blend of homey cozy feel, excellent food, and local, community-based activism. Add cool local history to that mix and you’ve officially won our hearts.

* It goes without saying, of course, that if there’s a chance in any of this to point your cab in the direction of La Colombe, you should absolutely probably do that.

  • Stan

    A reason to never leave Chestnut Hill/Mt airy is Chestnut Hill Coffee Company. In-house roasting and great baristas

  • tracey

    You should really add Ultimo at 15th and Mifflin to this list. They brew the best coffee in the city, hands down.

  • Ben

    Brew/Ultimate Coffee at 15th & Mifflin. Best coffee in Philadelphia. Try it and its hard to go elsewhere.

  • Clare

    I fucking haaaaaaaate the “chit-chat time.” I don’t want to tell you what I’m doing this weekend, and I don’t care about what you bought your mother for her birthday. Just shut up and give me my iced light mocha, dammit.

  • rob

    dont forget ants pants, lava, and cafe lutecia in g-ho

  • will

    yeah, i was surprised not to see ultimo up here. was there for the first time today and had easily the best cup of drip coffee i’d ever tasted. but what about rim, at the bottom of the italian market. rene pulls a pretty mean espresso, not to mention the fact that he always sings the godfather theme while he’s doing it.

  • rory

    cafe l’aube and walnut bridge cafe as well.

  • jon

    i third brew/ultimo. BEST COFFEE in the city. which is pretty undisputable if you go there.

  • CEF

    Almost forgot Spruce St. Espresso. Sheer brilliance.

  • Charles

    For the ones that never tried, you’ve got to go to RIM CAFE at 9th and Federal! Won best of philly in 2007. An amazing place in the middle of the Italian market, opened at night, where the owner prepares very unusual coffee and tea drinks!!! DO NOT MISS!!!!

  • Michal

    The absolute best cappuccino, and I don’t even like coffee, but this is not coffee, this is cappuccino – there was a guy waiting for their drink, but I could not believe it because the guy was using a blow torch light up the coffee. I thought it was coffee place and then I see this guy using my Home Depot blow torch. Made me curious, so I asked what are you making here, and he sad he’s making the best drink in the city. I said, I have to try it. And then he told me he was French, and then I told him I was not French, but I will try it anyway. He called it a cappuccio brulay, so if you go there ask for it. Tell him to make you the best one ever.

  • barista?

    one shot coffee in nolibs on liberties walk. intelligentsia coffee & espresso that is amazing. good for fishtown locals too!

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