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Sep 7, 2011 01:29 PM

Alternative to Starbucks!

Visiting Philadelphia, looking for recommendations for places to drink good coffee in the city?


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  1. Where are you going to be, exactly? There are dozens of options.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Buckethead

      We'll be based on Race Street and probably spend most of our four days fairly centrally based in the city!

      Race Street Cafe
      2 Race St, Frenchtown, NJ 08825

      1. re: elgordo

        Elixir and Spruce St Espresso are probably your two best options. La Colombe (two locations) is ok but not in the same league for espresso.

        1. re: barryg

          I've not been to La Colombe for a few years, and only to Elixir once. But I'd take La Colombe over Elixir, in a heartbeat. Maybe there's some difference in the brewed coffee, or the drinks with milk, but the espresso I had at Elixir just wasn't that good.
          La Colombe can be a bit of a sceney hassle, but I like the espresso.

            1. re: Bob Loblaw

              Wow maybe a difference of taste. I stopped getting espresso at La Colombe a while ago but the baristas were not good. Elixir, Ultimo, et al are light years ahead IMO. La Colombe does good drip coffee but AFAIK is still not doing per-cup pour over and chemex like the newer places which IMO makes better coffee.

              1. re: barryg

                I'm with barryg on this one. I have only made it to Elixr once, but I thought it was superior to La Columbe (which is still very good). Elixr reminded me of Intelligentsia in Chicago--they really take their coffee seriously and the different brewing options are fun.

                1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                  i agree with barryg as well- im a big elixr fan and prefer them over la colombe

                2. re: barryg

                  i've never asked for a per-cup pour over or chemex. so i've nothing to say there. and it's been a while since i've been to la colombe. but the shot of espresso i had at elixir just wasn't that great.
                  i was ready to like "third wave" espresso, but it hasn't wowed me yet.

                  1. re: Bob Loblaw

                    I was just back at Elixir for the first time in a bit and the espresso was good but not as great as past shots. A lot depends on the barista and some are just not that consistent. Ultimo still #1 for me. Maybe I need to give La Colombe another shot (no pun intended).

          1. There is a great app called coffeeguru that lists and reviews independent coffee houses. It uses your current location to suggest options. Extremely useful when traveling. I think it costs $1.99. I love it. I don't love Starbucks.