Imagine the scent of freshly roasted espresso beans—earthy, rich, and overflowing from their stoneware crocks on the countertop. The aroma of Old City Coffee is the most wonderful experience to step into.
Sometimes it seems as though Philadelphia has a café on every corner. Around Rittenhouse Square this may very well be the case. However, in my opinion, the cafés in the Old City are hit or miss. Perhaps as a result of the plethora of breweries popular with locals and tourists alike, there is not a high demand for cafés in the Old City. Nevertheless, one café makes up for any shortcomings by serving the best coffee in Philadelphia.
Old City Coffee has an ideal location—quiet and perfectly concealed on its own little cobblestone alley, just a street away from the hubbub of Market Street. But if you are looking for it, it is not difficult to locate. It is hidden just enough to keep an overflow of tourists away.
In addition to the café’s in-house menu, Old City Coffee sells its own blends of coffee and teas online. (Your dorm room can also smell like the inside of Old City Coffee—sublime!) There is always a selection of baked goods, including scones and cookies. I recommend the lemon bars— tart, smooth, and savory, with a flaky, buttery crust. When it comes to drinks, try the cappuccinos and lattes first.
A cluster of small marble tables in the main room is often bathed in sunlight from the windows at the front of the café. In warm weather, the large windows are opened up onto the alleyway. Whether you are working on an essay or catching up with a friend over an espresso, Old City Coffee is the place to be.
*Yes, they do have WiFi—remember to ask for it when you order. They will print out your own personal WiFi user name and password that expires after three hours.
If you are tempted by green-tea-flavored beverages, walk to Cafe Square One (a couple of blocks away) and order the matcha latte there instead.
Old City Coffee is a few steps away from the back of Christ Church, although if you are walking along Market Street from the independence sites, simply turn left on 3rd Street.
(They also have a location in the bustling Reading Terminal Market. This is perfect for those near Chinatown. However, it is not the ideal place to do homework, as there are very few seats.)