HOME > Chowhound > Pennsylvania >


Alternatives to Starbucks

When I visit Philadelphia on vacation I want to drink good coffee.
Any suggestions of really good coffee houses/shops worth visiting, preferably not the corporate chains?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I love Old City Coffee in the Reading Terminal.

    1. Bean Exchange at 7th and Bainbridge.

      1. Anthony's in the Italian Market.

        1. For a unique experience, try Ray's at 141 N. 9th street. Taiwanese dumplings and complimentary cuisine with a coffee bar boasting an array of Japanese glass coffee siphons and fresh ground beans.

          If you've never seen Japanese coffee siphons, bring your camera.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Chefpaulo

            I 2nd Ray's and will add La Colombe as well. Can't go wrong with either.

          2. the northern liberties neighborhood oozes coffee shops. all of these within about 1 sq mi:
            coffee house (on girard, near el stop)
            one shot (in liberties walk, between 2nd and 3rd)
            euphoria (2nd st in the funky 5-story building) - addictive pretzels
            elixir (2nd street, just south of euphoria)
            arbol (2nd and poplar)
            higher grounds (on 3rd st) - great lounging area - my personal fave, even though i love em all
            random tea room (4th st) - they do french press coffee

            i put them in an order that you can literally do a coffee bar crawl walking for approx 1 min between most of these! don't know if your travels will take you up this way, but it's a short walk / 2 min drive from old city (where most of the historic sights are). just google the zip 19123 to get an idea of the area. i really love all the coffee options northern liberties has to offer. :) oh, and you can find a great brunch in the neighborhood, too.

            1. The best I've had in Philly to date is at Chestnut Hill Coffee. But that might be out of your way, so I'll suggest Spruce St. Cafe, corner of Spruce and 11th. They're still in "soft opening" until the 15th. They are serving Counter Culture Coffees and their espresso machine is a LaMarzocco GB5.

              1. Places for a good shot of espresso:
                Stellar (10th and spruce)
                La Colombe (19th and Sansom)
                Joe's (10th and Walnut)
                Haussbrandt (15th and Walnut)

                Places to have a shot of espresso, then sit and hang out:
                Philadephia Java Company (4th and Lombard)
                Chapter House (9th and Bainbridge)
                La Colombe, again

                Plenty of others are good, too, outside of center city (incl. Chestnut Hill coffee, which is good but a bit overrated IMHO, and varies a bit too much barista to barista).

                If you're staying someplace outside of center city people can probably give more specific advice.
                I don't really like other drinks (brewed coffee, drinks w/milk) so I can't say anything about what they're like from one place to another. Good job staying away from starbucks when there are so many better options.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Bob Loblaw

                  Phila Java at 2nd and Christian too!

                2. la colombe. the best coffee. i buy mine at Cafe Loftus; a funky/artsy little place on 15th, just shy of Walnut.

                  1. What a fun topic! Aside from some of the ones named, in university city I like GreenLine Cafe on umm 43rd adn Locust I believe and Brew Ha Ha on 12th and Locust (that location might not be right so I apologize) is great for sitting down (comfy chairs!) and even having a scone or muffin.

                    1. It depends where you are in the city. Assuming you are staying in center city La Colombe as previously mentioned is a great choice. If you are in Old City, I like Cafe Ole on 3rd and between Arch and Race (also serving La Colombe).

                      1. Another vote for La Colombe. I've posted this point before- I remember reading an article somewhere that when Alain Ducasse first came to the US and New York, he chose to use La Colombe coffee. I may be "misremembering" (thanks Roger), but I think that's true.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: JCap

                          Only issue with that statement is that Ducasse came to NY eight years ago when LC probably was among the best choices. It's a much different coffee world today. Change happens!

                          Not saying LC isn't any good, but it's sort of stood still over that time and is getting lapped.

                        2. Wow you received excellent recommendations. Rays is a good choice if you want a spectacular brew their blue mountain is as good as the best of Jamaica and the Kona is a s good as 5 star Hawaii. Old City is also excellent. If you think your cafe has more elan with a whiff of BO Colombe is your spot.

                          Old City Coffee 221 Church is an excellent spot for a visitor. Trendy neighborhood near historic stuff, nice architecture, and you can walk anywhere in town from there or hop on the El. The spot in RTM is also an excellent place to grab a cup.


                          1. The Last Drop (12th and Pine, I believe) is really cute, filled with eclectic art and snooty hipsters. The coffee/tea is good, the atmosphere chill, and the bathrooms are pretty snazzy too.