Coffee. Tea. Philly
Wondering where to find the best coffee and tea in Philadelphia? Here are some of my favorite cafés and shops for a lovely cuppa either on the go or for lingering and lounging. I numbered the list, but it’s not a ranking by any means.
1. La Colombe
You’ll be able to find La Colombe in several locations throughout the city (and in the U.S.), but my favorite was the flagship location in Fishtown (a neighborhood to the north of the Center City area). Though coffee is their specialty, you can find some quality tea (like their Ruby Oolong) and even have beer and food to order. I loved their mocha (pictured above, about $4). It’s essentially unsweetened cocoa powder + coffee so you can make it as sweet (or unsweet) as you like! They also do some mean latte/mocha/etc art. I always took a picture before carrying it to my table, because the Universe knows that it’s likely I will bump into something.
For snacks, I always liked their leek and ham scone (I tried to recreate it at home…with mixed results. I’ll update my recipe and maybe post it in the future). Their chocolate macaron didn’t have the texture that macarons are supposed to have (it was incredibly dense), but I actually liked it because it was so dense and dark chocolatey – I’m a big fan of dark chocolate and ganache. Also, I wasn’t a big fan of their draft latte, but people rave about it! You might want to try it out 🙂
Perhaps the best part of this café/location is that as long as you go during off hours (read: not weekend brunch, not happy hour time on Friday) you have a nice space to work (high ceilings, large space) without Internet distractions (that’s right, no wi-fi here). This is where I hashed out the final organizing and editing of my master’s paper.
2. Old City Coffee
To be honest, I only visited the physical Old City Coffee café once, but I bought coffee beans from them on numerous occasions (and as little gifts) at the Reading Terminal Market. A staple in their Old City location (hence the name), as well as in the famous indoor market, they have a wide selection of blends and single origin beans to choose from. I particularly enjoyed their Balzac blend (though it might have been because of the name. Anything named after my favorite 19th century French novelist deserves a gold star.).
The one time I did visit, however, I fell in love with the space. It’s simple with a very light ambiance. I went with a friend on a Sunday afternoon and it was surprisingly empty. We might have lucked out, but you might be lucky too! This would be an ideal place to curl up and read a book or chat with a friend.
3. Menagerie Coffee
Menagerie Coffee is home to the smoothest, loveliest cold brew ($3). I’m not really a fan of straight coffee, but I would have no problem drinking this – not bitter at all! If you get to know me, you’ll find that I’m very skeptical of Yelp review (maybe I’m just skeptical generally) and I was definitely giving the Yelpers a side eye when I read all the raving reviews. However, I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong to give the side eye! The cold brew was, indeed, quite lovely.
Another Yelp favorite is their breakfast sandwich which consists of canadian bacon, egg, pepperjack cheese and a drizzle of maple syrup on an english muffin ($4). Again, I am converted! It was delicious! Unlike the scones at La Colombe, I was able to successfully recreate these at home. Still, it’s worth it to get at the café. It has a pretty chill vibe and a lot of people had their laptops out.
4. Hub Bub Coffee
HubBub Coffee is a very good café. There’s one basically on Penn’s campus, so it was the very first café that I frequented in Philly. It was also one of the last! A wonderful place to get coffee or a chai latte (deliciousness at $4.25) and catch up with friends. A lot of people do work there, but for me it’s not the ideal place because there are so many students and it can get quite noisy. Still, as long as I’m not doing work I love the ambience and the drinks! [They also have scrumptious looking donuts and such but I never got around to trying them.]
5. The Random Tea and Curiosity Shop [full disclosure, I’m copy and pasting from my previous blog]
The Random Tea Room is a small, mostly quiet cafe on an unassuming street in Northern Liberties. On one side of the room, a wall of David Bowie artwork (which is for sale, as is almost everything in the shop). On the other, a wall of tea sachets and tins, glass-bottled honey, and scrumptious-looking baked goods. The seating ranges from charming light blue fauteuil to a white stool reminiscent of a Go chip. The back of the shop is the counter, with friendly, tattooed staff (along with a few of their friends, on a Sunday afternoon) who serve up the various teas.
I was in the mood for something iced, so I only looked at their Iced Tea menu (I chose Moroccan Mint, not as good as the one I had at the mosque in Paris, but still good). If I ever get to revisit, I’ll be sure to examine the entire collection. They also have some light food items like granola and parfaits.
A perfect place to sit, chat with friends, read a book, or do some gift shopping. It’s my favorite tea shop in Philly, even though I only went once!
6. P.S. & Co
If you’re vegan, or just super into vegan (and organic/gluten-free) stuff, this might be the place for you! Be warned, though, this is one of the more expensive hipster cafés in Philly (a slice of cake can be like, $9). But if you’re willing to deal with that, the food is delicious. They really make sure that all of their food (and sweets! the P.S. in their name stands for “Pure Sweets”) are tasty and nutritious!
I’m not usually a fan of dishes that try to be fusion-y, but I LOVED their “pad thai” with brown rice noodles, kale, edamame and pickled onions (about $14). When I saw it, I wasn’t sure what it would taste like, but it essentially tasted like a delicious noodle salad with balsamic sautéed onions. As long as you don’t really think of it as pad thai, it’s so good!
Their iced coffee is good, but unless you know for sure that you’re a fan of brazil nut milk…I’d advise against it. I didn’t like it 🙂 They have a bunch of juices too, if you’re into that!
So there you have it, some of the best coffee and tea in Philadelphia! Happy sipping!