For some of us, attempting to do any work without a morning coffee is as pointless as playing Jenga with Edward Scissorhands. So it’s great that Philly has plenty of spots where you can get your caffeine fill, while surrounded by natural light, a few bookshelves, and some trays of pastries that you can peruse in between emails, brainstorming sessions, and setting your Slack status to inactive when you need a little break.
We put together a list to help you out that includes 15 spots from all over the city—which range from places where you don’t have to throw elbows to get a seat to shops that get so crowded that you have to play hide-and-seek with some power outlets. But they all let you tap into their wifi and have coffee and an atmosphere that are good enough that you might even forget that you’re actually working.
Càphê Roasters is a casual Vietnamese coffee shop in Kensington that is lined with tall plants, bookshelves on its walls, and plenty of long and wide tables that are perfect if you're with a group. A day there can be spent choosing between chacha fries that are covered with salsa roja and fried eggs, breakfast tacos packed with cloud-like eggs and avocado, or a crispy chicken bánh mì coated with a syrupy gochu glaze. They source their beans from Vietnam, as well as other Southeast and East Asian regions, and you can get a coffee with a thick layer of egg custard layered on top or get it iced on a sunny day.
Franny Lou's Porch
If you’re looking for somewhere that has more plants than The Secret Garden and a place where you can sip on a latte in a rocking chair, head to Kensington’s Franny Lou’s Porch. They have a lineup of coffees, teas, and juices but it’s their espresso drinks—which are named after activists throughout history—that make this place stand out. From the Martin Luther King that has a peanut butter and mocha twist to the Ida B. Wells that has a subtle taste of mint and lavender, all of the drinks go well with their salads, sandwiches like their turkey sausage and cheese, and Philly muffins. It’s an easygoing and quiet place with a patio sofa outside where you can recreate the feel of a lazy weekend on a Monday.
Vernick Coffee Bar
Vernick Coffee Bar in the Comcast Tech Center is one of the coolest places to grab a croissant and coffee in the city. The space is surrounded by massive indoor trees, along with a white dome that looks like a spaceship ride at Universal Studios—looking up at a ceiling with glowing words is great for productivity after all. There is tons of open space, and you can choose from a menu of Caffè Umbria coffee (which you can surprisingly get for under $5). They also have in-house baked goods like strawberry and passion fruit kouign amann, grain bowls, sandwiches, and light options like their chilled soba and sesame that’s topped with cilantro and a citrusy dressing. Unlike most coffee shops, they take reservations here so you can calmly come in without having to plot a seating strategy while you’re in line.
Since most of us can’t focus without a good playlist, working at a coffee shop that also doubles as a record shop seems like a no-brainer. At Milkcrate, you’ll find tables whose surfaces are made out of vinyl, window seating for people-watching, and bagels, breakfast sandwiches (vegan options as well), salads, and tacos all coming out of the kitchen until 3pm. If you need some caffeine, they serve everything from iced coffees, teas, macchiatos, and a few espresso drinks that will get you more amped up than the Pink Floyd albums on the wall. It’s a place where you could end up sending your last email of the day on an early Friday and heading to Happy Hour at Cheu or another Fishtown spot nearby.
Uncle Bobbie’s Books & Cafe
This Germantown Ave. coffee shop and bookstore has a full espresso and coffee bar menu with things like cold brews, teas, lattes, and fresh-squeezed juices. With a sit-down space that has some couches and sofas that could work for a group meeting, and some single seats at the counter space when you’re solo, you can kick back with a croissant, yogurt, bowl of soup, or a slice of sweet potato pie until they close at 7pm. This a place that we’d hang out even if we weren’t working just so we could lay out on the ottomans and crack open our favorite Toni Morrison novel while The Roots play in the background.
There are a lot of great things about Herman’s—like all of the food trucks that park out front, and the daily 1900 Ice Cream pint deliveries. But the best thing about working here is that they have garage doors that stay open the whole summer, which makes you feel like you’re working outside. On a nice day in July when you just can’t force yourself to sit at a cubicle, park up at one of the red-and-white lawn chairs lining the sidewalk here after grabbing a pistachio and rose donut and a fresh cup of coffee.
When you’re in Northern Liberties and need to get a lot done in a short amount of time, One Shot Cafe is the best place to go. They have a full breakfast menu, lots of snacks for when the breakfast energy runs out, and a second-floor library that’s always talkative but never too loud. Then, when you finish everything, you can get back to rearranging your kitchen cabinets or whatever it is you do in your free time.
Rally is a lot more than a coffee shop. It’s also an event space, a design studio, and a pop-up shop for local vendors. That makes it useful for a lot of different things, like distracting yourself from work by looking at all of the pretty pottery and greeting cards sitting on the shelves. But when you do need to get work done, there are always a few tables available. Plus, you can also reserve their tables by the hour for a small fee, so if you need to have a team meeting, forget going to the packed Starbucks down the street and just come here for an iced chai latte, chicken shawarma salad, or a few treats from Okie Dokie Donuts.
There are a lot of great coffee shops in Fishtown, but most of them are tiny places that fill up quickly—you might end up walking around the neighborhood for an hour looking for somewhere to work. Gryphon Cafe, a larger shop hidden on an out-of-the-way corner on Front Street, always has a big, open table for you to spread some random papers out on. And in addition to coffee, they also have things like lavender lemonade, a ginger-hibiscus cooler, and a full food menu with a few Philly muffin sandwiches, vegan pastries, and a fig and camembert toast that’s drizzled with a mildly-sweet saba.
ReAnimator has three different locations around Philly, but their outpost in Kensington on Master Street is the best for getting work done. It’s big and open, with huge, wall-to-wall ceilings across the front of the store. Add in the free wifi, flaky almond croissants, and some of the best coffee in the city, and you’re primed for a productive day.
Calling the La Colombe in Fishtown a “coffee shop” is kind of like carrying a Swiss Army knife and only using the tiny saw—it’s not technically wrong, but it’s also a whole lot more than that. This place feels more like a brewery, with huge, vaulted wood beam ceilings, plenty of seating, and a full food menu with everything from breakfast sandwiches to Neapolitan pizzas. They don’t have free wifi, but they do have an Xfinity hotspot, which means that if you (or a very good friend) have a Comcast login, you can work here for as long as you’d like.
You might not think that a soundtrack of mostly punk and heavy metal would be conducive to getting work done, but it’s shockingly more soothing than the usual elevator music coffee shops play. The playlist and the worn-in furniture make Grindcore House in Pennsport a great, homey place to set up shop for the day. If you need some food, they have an all-vegan menu with pastries and sandwiches like a plant-based sausage, egg, and cheese and a seitan club sandwich, along with a bunch of tea and coffee options.
All three of the Rival Bros locations are great places to work, but if you get more productive surrounded by bustling people and action, hit up the original one on Lombard Street. They have high ceilings and a few tables lining the wall that face the display case, which we’re sure they only put there so we could keep getting up to grab a coconut blondie or lemony ricotta toast when they bring out a fresh batch. The coffee is also some of the best in the city, and while the food menu is small, there are always pastries from local bakeries like The Might Bread Co. and Crust Vegan Bakery.
The Best Brunch Spots In Philadelphia
Elixr’s roastery is a 2,000 square foot space full of massive windows in Callowhill, which means they have plenty of room for you to work or get distracted by anything zooming by on the streets. Whatever you’re doing, whether you’re updating some spreadsheets for your boss by EOD or reworking your entire fantasy football team after the computer auto-drafted your top two picks, Elixr has you covered with bagels, cinnamon rolls, and floral foamy latte art. If you have a lot to accomplish, get their “coffee omakase,” which is essentially just five shots of their choice of coffee. Even if you don’t end up loving them all, it’ll at least keep you working until next week.
Ultimo Coffee has three locations in Philly, and all are casual and comfortable inside—so much so that you won’t think twice about dragging a bunch of tables and chairs around to feng shui the room for your ideal working environment. Plus, the one in Newbold has a whole wall filled with beer refrigerators, just in case the coffee isn’t cutting it after you get a surge of emails after 4pm on a Friday. Outside of the coffee menu, they also have things like cardamom sugar buns and blueberry ricotta cake. Not to mention that when you bring your own mug, you get a discount on your coffee—which you’ll probably put back into buying more coffee if you’re here long enough.