Best coffee shops in Philadelphia
Ultimo is an original in the “craft coffee” movement and an easy pick for a high-quality pour-over—all orders after 11am, in fact, are hand-poured and include one of the shop’s own roasts. Complement a brew with citrus notes with any of their sourdough bagels or vegan donuts from Dottie’s. It’s one of the more comforting spaces for work or pleasure in the city, featuring a garage door that let’s in a warm breeze on perfect spring days, a repurposed church pew for seating along the wall and an indoor mural that provides the space a little funk.
Practically a force of nature in Philadelphia, La Colombe coffee can be found in a slew of restaurants—and even markets selling cans of its well-regarded “draft lattes.” But if you want the full experience, step into the shop’s cavernous marquee location in Fishtown, where you’ll grab the signature coffee (a palatable medium-to-dark roast) neatly served up with a dainty cup of cream and sugar cube on a plate—made better in the context of the space’s hanging globe lights and coffee-themed art. La Colombe doesn’t just do affordable luxury; it perfects it. Only catch: No WiFi, so laptop toters should steer clear.
Emerging through two heavy drapes covering the entrance door, entering Double Knot's cafe space feels like you've stumbled into one of Philadelphia's best-kept secrets. The cafe menu boasts a selection of bold espresso drinks and hand pours from local outfit Elixr Coffee Roasters. Go for the frothy shakerato espresso drink or the nitro cold brew, an emerging cold brew that’s still elusive in Philadelphia. The simple yet satiating lunch menu gives you the option of rice, banh mi, noodles or a salad with your choice of protein—all for $7.
Easily the best coffee shop in Old City, this is a well-balanced gathering place serving mostly light-to-medium-roast coffees from Dogwood Coffee Roasters (not a common roaster to find in Philly) and an interior made extra cozy with its single brick wall. Also on the menu is a healthy selection of loose-leaf teas, and an assortment of monstrously sized cookies you’ll want to spring for—if there are any left by the time you get there.
A micro-roaster transplant from Lancaster, this open and airy space in the city’s Gayborhood makes it a great place to breathe after a long day or camp out to get work done in peace. The menu is refreshingly simple, stocked with classic espresso drinks done well and a rotating selection of hand-poured coffees. Come for the exceptional service and delicately crafted latte art; stay to line your plate and palate with any one of the shop’s seasonal pastries.
A pioneer in Philly’s craft coffee scene, Elixr has long been a go-to spot for businessfolk and downtown travelers shopping Walnut Street. The cafe is known to turn out an acidic, caffeine-potent, thoughtfully sourced cup of coffee roasted in-house. Wraparound wall sofas in the corner inside this rustic-chic, wood-heavy space make it a suitable place to meet a friend for coffee—just don’t plan to stick around too long; despite its spacious outfit, it gets quite crowded.
A marriage of coffee and science, Function Coffee Labs owner Ross Nickerson is a former mechanical engineer who built his business on getting the science of his coffee just right. (Hence the “labs.”) Try his signature “Coffee Shot," which will fascinate your tastebuds with a curiously fruit-forward flavor that's unlike any espresso shot you've had before. Pair that with a stroop waffle and let the good vibes roll. Just don’t plan to stick around: Seating is minimal. If it’s warm outside, take your coffee to-go to the pint-sized park just across the street.
One of the city’s more unusual concepts, Rally is a triple threat: an ad agency, a coworking space and, of course, a coffee shop. A $100 monthly membership nets you free cups of Passenger coffee (roasted in Lancaster) and a discount on standard cafe fare. Their reservation system, meanwhile, means you can secure a table (for a small fee) without having to worry about a place to squat. The cafe space is refreshingly bright and chic, with extra seating along the sidewalk out front during warmer months.
A delightful corner coffee outpost in Queen Village, Shot Tower offers all the fixings of an unpretentious, neighborhood shop: friendly staff, fair prices and window seating for watching foot traffic roll on by. The baristas serve La Colombe coffee and a particularly impressive selection of herbal teas. To boot, the space is brightly lit and hosts a rack of magazines if you forgot your book at home.
If you’re looking to have a conversation about your coffee, these are the folks to turn to. ReAnimator baristas know their java as well as a good sommelier knows wine—as they should, given their coffee is literally roasted in a backroom right behind the seating area. Here, you’ll get what might be the cleanest cup of coffee in town, in a space that, while a little no-frills, is warm and breathable. Food options are nothing to write home about, but the coffee will assuredly have you walking away with a bag of ReAnimator beans.
Serving their own roasts, Bodhi is a quaint reprieve from the noise of nearby South Street. Stop by to read a book with one of their lavender lattes. The space is tiny but quaint, tucked inside a historic rowhome, and the baristas come sans attitude. Ideally, give this shop a visit on weekends during the Headhouse Farmer’s Market in the covered Shambles located just across the street.
If there’s a coffee shop in Philadelphia that feels like a speakeasy, it’s this moody NoLibs outpost tucked away on a neighborhood street corner. One Shot serves up a solid cup of coffee from Stumptown, yes, but it is better known for its house-made fresh-fruit scones and baby kronuts. In truth, with its full cafe menu, you’d do just as well stopping here for lunch as you would coffee. The seating arrangment, organized for dining over casual lounging or work, sends that message loud and clear.
A mainstay of Philly coffee and legacy institution of the Italian Market, there’s a reason Anthony’s has endured for more than two decades: It accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do, and never tries to fool you into thinking it’s anything more. Yes, you’ll find a divine cappuccino here or satisfying dark roast, and yes, you’ll grin ear-to-ear after indulging in biscotti, gelato or any one of their signature chocolates. Advice: Skip dessert if you're dining at a nearby restaurant, and try something sweet here.
An emerging star in coffee, Saxbys boasts a bevy of locations in the city (with more on the way), but charms the most with its Drexel University location—complete with window seating perfect for people-watching, and plenty of tables for studying or work. It’s the best of fast-casual with a sprinkle of local flair. The espresso drinks only barely outclass Starbucks, but its cold brew tastes near-perfect with every cup, and its recent introduction of the “Groothie” to its shops has us swooning.