LAST MONTH, The Daily Meal proclaimed Ultimo Coffee "America's Best Coffee Shop." To do so, the website had a panel of experts vote on "nearly 150 shops from coast to coast," it said, to seek out the best java, "food, atmosphere, customer service and the 'unique' factor."
Like some other top raters, Ultimo uses minimalist, beaker-looking, 3-cup Chemex pots to make morning batches. After 11 a.m., the Philly shops brew one cup at a time in ceramic Bee Drippers. Top-of-the-line La Marzocco machines create Ultimo's espresso and espresso drinks. Their single-origin beans, supplied by Counter Culture, rotate frequently. (Insiders call such meticulous methods the "Third Wave" of coffee culture.)
But the thing that really set the South Philly spots apart? They were just plain nice. Said The Daily Meal: "Philadelphia, often seen as the underdog to the big cities of the Northeast, is hands-down the winner for the best cup of coffee because the coffee scene there is hardly home to the snobbery that can come with 'Third Wave' coffee."
The craft-beer store attached to Ultimo's Mifflin Street location didn't hurt, either.
Try for yourself. Before 11 a.m., a coffee costs $2.39. After, it's $2.49. Fridays at 5 p.m., the 15th and Mifflin store holds free cuppings (tastings) for the first eight people who reserve spots.