In Praise of Local Coffee


What’s your favorite local­ly-roast­ed bean? I’ve tried three recent­ly myself: old favorite La Colombe as well as new jacks Green Street and ReAn­i­ma­tor. Is it blas­phe­my to say I pre­fer La Colombe?

It may be my per­son­al pref­er­ence, but no mat­ter how much cof­fee I brew, I just find that La Colombe has a bet­ter, rounder fla­vor than the oth­ers.

Am I miss­ing some­thing? Are their local beans that blow your socks off? Drop me a line in the com­ments.


In Praise of Dock Street Brewing Co.

Ah, spring. It’s so nice to be out­side again. Noth­ing quite like run­ning Char­lie ragged in some nice parks. Thing about nice parks in Philadel­phia is that most of them are in West Philly. Helen and I may be river­ward  chau­vin­ists, but, man, I wish Penn Treaty Park were as nice as Clark Park.

You know what else the river­wards don’t have? A brew­ery and piz­za spot like Dock Street Brew­ing Co. Went with Mark and Erin before a Par­ty Pho­tog­ra­phers’ show at Younglove’s last win­ter, but had no idea how great it was for lunch. Bought two pies — Flam­menkuchen and Flo­ren­tine — and got a growler of their Sum­mer Ses­sion to go. Can’t beat it!

Helen, who tends to hate brew­pubs because the food is often oh so bad, real­ly loved it. Win-win! Beats hav­ing to con­vince her to haul out to Iron Hill or Vic­to­ry for lunch and we can stroll down to Clark Park after­ward.

Maybe we’ll be West Philly peo­ple yet…


How Much Can You French Press?

French press cof­fee is as much a part of my morn­ing rit­u­al as “Thomas the Tank Engine.” I’ve watched sev­er­al videos to help me hone my skills and Jasper here has real­ly done the trick, espe­cial­ly with the tem­per­a­ture of the water and the tim­ing. I feel pret­ty con­fi­dent about my cof­fee to water ratio these days.

I’m drink­ing a deli­cious, oily cup of cof­fee right now. Love it!


The Fishtown Coffee Problem

When Helen and I moved to Port Fish­ing­ton, or Flat Iron as it’s prop­er­ly known, from the hus­tle and bus­tle of Two Street, we were in for a rude awak­en­ing. There was prac­ti­cal­ly noth­ing here! Want a bite to eat? Our neigh­bors rec­om­mend­ed Apple­bees! Good piz­za? Key Foods!

Yuck. Stranger, there was just one cof­fee option for the bulk of Fish­town: the dread­ed Rock­et Cat. Now, Rock­et Cat brought cof­fee right into the heart of Fish­town, locat­ed at the cor­ners of Frank­ford and Nor­ris, which is about as great a loca­tion as you can have in this neck of the woods. It’s a shame they serve bad cof­fee at pre­mi­um prices with ser­vice that will ruin your day. Top it off with the shop’s west Philly vibe and you’ve got the tri­fec­ta of awful.

Last year we wel­comed Milkcrate Cafe to Fish­town. It’s been out go-to spot when con­ve­nient. They serve La Colombe cof­fee, which is the gold stan­dard of Philly cof­fee. Major upgrade over Rock­et Cat, although they claim to have fol­lowed suit as cus­tomers reject­ed their watery organ­ic blend. Bonus, right? It is, but Milkcrate is quite a hike, unless I’m head­ed to Penn Treaty Park with Char­lie on a Sun­day morn­ing. The coffee’s good, the price is right and the ser­vice is won­der­ful, but I just don’t get over their often enough for it to be my reg­u­lar spot. Wouldn’t hurt if they did some­thing about the seat­ing, too.

Enter the Lola Bean, which opened Sat­ur­day, right on Frank­ford just a block from John­ny Brenda’s. I’ve already been twice! The coffee’s great and the ser­vice is love­ly. It’s a great addi­tion in the heart of what will soon be a bur­geon­ing strip of new busi­ness­es. I’m real­ly excit­ed to see what hap­pens next!

Best part about the Fish­town cof­fee “prob­lem?” We have options! It’s a lux­u­ry we didn’t have just three years ago. Love local folks invest­ing in the neigh­bor­hood!

Drinking, Eating

Have You Been to Kraftwork?

I’ve been to Kraft­work a num­ber of times now and I think I like it. I mean, it’s okay. There’s that one sand­wich that’s real­ly deli­cious, but not much else that real­ly stands out on the (recent­ly recon­sid­ered) menu. The draught list is amaz­ing, although it’s like doing surgery with a shot­gun; put enough beers on tap and you’re sure to get some­thing right, no?

But you can fix menus and curate beer lists to make it seem like you know what you’re doing, rather than not want­i­ng to get it wrong. What you can’t real­ly change is phys­i­cal plant. If you want to be clubbed over the head with con­cept, Kraft­work is the place. With­out even men­tion­ing the clunk­er of a name, you know it’s styl­ized to a fault, which real­ly dis­tracts from the things that prob­a­bly brought you there in the first place. Did I men­tion how NOISY it is? Now, I know I’m get­ting old­er, but when you have a DJ spin­ning dance music dur­ing din­ner, at a place that doesn’t have a dance floor, you’re going out of your way to seem sil­ly. I mean, at least the Abbaye had sen­si­ble brunch DJs.

Thing I hear from fans of craft beer and gas­trop­ubs in gen­er­al though is that the prices are sim­ply too high. I can get a pint of Russ­ian Riv­er Blind Pig for less than I can a tulip of the same at Kraft­work. And while the taps are more plen­ti­ful than oth­er neigh­bor­hood bars, I don’t get the sense that more thought went into select­ing what’s on them. Instead of feel­ing like you’re get­ting a deal on some­thing that’s been care­ful­ly con­sid­ered, you know you’re over­pay­ing for some­thing you can prob­a­bly get some­where else in town.

Will I keep going back? Absolute­ly. I have faith that Adam Rit­ter will get it right and, hell, who I am to say any­thing: the place is usu­al­ly full to over­flow­ing, which is a good prob­lem to have in this econ­o­my. If they can build a tasty, inex­pen­sive menu around their beer can chick­en sand­wich, then they’re already on the right track. Where else can you get a Mikkeller Break­fast Beer Geek Impe­r­i­al Stout at 10:30 on a Sun­day morn­ing?