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Protesting Starbucks? Here are Philly's best independent coffee shops

Philadelphia's independent, non-Starbucks coffee scene has something for everyone.

Aaron Ultimo, coffee shop owner, prepares an " El Filo " flavor cup of coffee at the Ultimo Coffee in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia. Wednesday, January 10, 2018.
Aaron Ultimo, coffee shop owner, prepares an " El Filo " flavor cup of coffee at the Ultimo Coffee in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia. Wednesday, January 10, 2018.Read moreJOSE F. MORENO

This story has been updated to reflect reader response.

Those looking to boycott Starbucks after last week's arrest of two black men at a Center City store have plenty of other options. With numerous independent chains and a growing number of individual coffee shops, the city has never been a better place for a caffeine fix. Here are some of Philly's best non-Starbucks options:

  1. La Colombe. Available in countless local stores as well as its locations in Fishtown, Rittenhouse Square, near City Hall and on Independence Mall, the city's coffee giant is easily the most accessible alternative. Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan always goes for the slightly pricier "workshop" single-origin beans. Today it's a Sumatra Americano, followed by a Burundi on the drip pot that "has so much flavor — fruit and cocoa notes, and real balance."

  2. Ultimo Coffee's newest location is at 20th and Locust, just blocks from the Starbucks that has been the site of protests since last week's arrests. Owner Aaron Ultimo roasts his own beans and offers limited-release varieties like Matambo AA, which comes from fair-trade farmers in Colombia. Inquirer food news writer Michael Klein says it "has such a natural fruity sweetness, you won't even think of adding sugar."

  3. Rival Brothers has coffee bars at 2400 Lombard, 1528 Spruce, and 1100 Tasker Streets, all of which serve traditional drip coffee, Chemex bar and a variety of espresso beverages, all prepared using their locally roasted beans.

  4. ReAnimator Coffee is now in West Philadelphia as well as Fishtown, Kensington, and at restaurants including Res Ipsa Cafe.

  5. Elixr Coffee, which has a shop just off Walnut Street on South Sydenham, also has pour-overs and espresso. Owner Evan Inatome also runs the coffee program at Double Knot.

  6. Menagerie Coffee, just off Independence Mall, pours great coffees from around the country and has, according to LaBan, "perhaps the most mellow coffee shop vibe in town."

  7. One Shot Cafe, in Northern Liberties, and Ox Coffee, near Third and South, both serve Stumptown Coffee.

  8. Shot Tower Coffee, at Fifth and Christian, serves Counter Culture Coffee.

  9. Herman's, a newcomer to the city's coffee scene, roasts its own beans and also serves espresso tonic cocktails in creative seasonal flavors.

  10. Ray's Cafe and Tea House in Chinatown began brewing siphon pot coffees long before anyone knew what a "Third Wave" coffee shop was.

  11. Square One Coffee is based in Lancaster but has two Philly locations, at 18th and JFK and near 13th and Spruce.

Update: Our readers pointed out the lack of black-owned businesses on this list. That was a mistake.

  1. Uncle Bobbie's Coffee and Books. Owned by scholar Marc Lamont Hill, the Germantown Avenue shop invites patrons to stay and read by offering books along with food and coffee.

  2. Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse. Ariell Johnson, owner of the Frankford Avenue shop in Kensington, has been called the first African American woman on the East Coast to open a comic book store. The shop pours Philly Fair Trade coffee.

  3. Franny Lou's Porch. This cozy Kensington spot has an extensive variety of coffees as well as teas.