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Jun 20, 2008 08:26 AM

Phila coffee houses?

I'm looking for cafes serving top notch espresso, good ambiance for reading would be a plus. Any Parisian or Viennese style spots?

Thanks :)

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  1. The best place to sit and read/study/relax and get good fair trade coffee is called Mugshots, right on the corner of 21st and Fairmount.

    5 Replies
    1. re: lellenberger

      Last time I was at Mugshots, they had a sign up saying not to linger too much (90 minutes, maybe?).
      I understand the rationale, but it still turned me off.

      i like philadelphia java and chapter house, although at both (esp. the 1st) their espresso shots are average to good, not great. La Colombe has very good shots with probably the most distinctive taste I've come across. Not the best, but the most distinctive.

      The single espressos at Stellar on 11th and spruce used to be, well, stellar - but I don't think it's there anymore and in any case had long been wildly inconsistent.

      1. re: Bob Loblaw

        chapter house is great for hanging around, their espresso is good and they only offer fair-trade coffee (and they have free wifi). i love the new coffee house at 7th and bainbridge though i can never remember its name. ergh. tis on the southeast corner and they have excellent coffee, snacks and ther is a nice little feel to the place too. and i think they have free wifi as well. in response to boblaw, the place is called stella's and i think that they are just renovating.

        also, some coffee snobby friends love LaVa, higher grounds in northern liberties is lovely, and you can't beat fante's for yummy coffee and espresso, though you can't really linger there. :)

        1. re: mazza3

          The coffee house at 7th and Bainbridge is The Bean Exchange.

        2. re: Bob Loblaw

          I like Philadelphia Java and at least the one at 2nd and Christian has never disappointed me with their coffees and you can definitely hang all day and there is free WiFi

      2. Glad you asked this...I'd like to know, too. I love those small, intimate places where you can drink and linger. Out in the 'burbs, there's a hole in the wall place in Wayne called The Griffin. It's a 'non-chain' coffee place next to the Wayne theatre on Lancaster Ave. They are such a dying breed. A couple of years ago when I visited Vienna, I saw a construction sign for "COMING SOON: STARBUCKS" and my heart sank.

        2 Replies
        1. re: the dog ate my homework

          I wouldn't describe The Griffin as a whole in the wall by any means. They have been around for ever and do a TON of business.

          1. re: saturninus

            Oops. "Hole in the wall": poor use of a phrase on my part. I don't mean to say that the Gryphon is a dingy, dirty place. It's just modest, on the small side and stuck in between bigger businesses. (-from a fellow Blenheim parent)

        2. If Chestnut Hill is doable, Chestnut Hill Coffee has a great ambience. John Hornall (of Seattle's Hines Coffee fame) roasts his own upstairs. There are two levels, upstairs is very quiet. And the coffee and espresso are terrific.

          Also, while I haven't been to Spruce St. coffee yet, I know some of the staff from the national barista competitions and jams. They use Counter Culture for their coffee so between that and the barista training they get, should be pretty darned good.

          1. la colombe at 19th & walnut: many think that their coffee is the best in the city. the inside is full of dark wood, with businessmen and hipsters alike. background noise is definitely present, but you can happily read a book or the newspaper.

            1. check out higher grounds in northern liberties. you can hang out all day if you want, they have free wifi, and the lattes and snacks are delicious. i love the green tea latte. they always have bagels, sandwiches and a few vegan cakes. local (buyable, i think) art on the walls. it's a really cute neighborhoody place. 3rd and fairmount.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rabidog

                i should also mention coffee house on front & girard near the el... surprising location for a cute, quaint little coffee shop. on a nice day this is THE place to go for its cute garden out back. the interior has some sparse lounging space, and the service is super-friendly. i haven't been in awhile because of my hours vs. their hours, but i do miss their winter drinks - holly jolly mocha, etc. so decadent.