Bear, Elcy's adopted mascot, sits loyally on his stoop.
Bear, Elcy's adopted mascot, sits loyally on his stoop.

The Nooks of Philadelphia: Coffee Shops

Back when I went to school in South Carolina, my friends and I always used to meet up at the local coffee shop, Kudu. There we could catch up during a long week, bring a group to work on a project, or make that five page history paper a little more enjoyable to write. The local staff was friendly and the atmosphere made us feel comfortable enough to lose ourselves in their comfy chairs for hours. When I moved back to the area to attend Arcadia, I set out to adopt a new Kudu and luckily found several.

Here are my delightful finds.

Chestnut Hill Coffee

Want more? Chestnut Hill Coffee has two floors of space for those long study days.

Want more? Chestnut Hill Coffee has two floors of space for those long study days.

My immediate go-to was Chestnut Hill Coffee, just up the street from the bakery where I work. The shop sits at the top of Germantown Avenue, which is also a great place to spend an afternoon. “The Hill,” as the locals call the neighborhood, is filled with cute, locally-owned shops including anything from quirky jewelry to cooking spices.

The coffee shop itself has a low-key vibe with two spacious floors with tons of tables and seating. I’ve been known to spend a long afternoon here drafting out many an Anthropology paper. You will probably get distracted by the delicious smells that waft up the stairs.

Their friendly staff can put together any caffeine concoction, as well as some soup-of-the-day and pastry options.

Coffee lovers: Be warned! This Chestnut Hill Coffee is so well-known in the area that many restaurants and bars around the city contract it for their use. Only a 15-minute drive from Arcadia, it’s a great place to end up after a couple hours spent exploring the avenue of shops. Bonus: cool upstairs window seating.

Elcy’s Café

Bear, Elcy’s adopted mascot, sits loyally on his stoop.

Bear, Elcy’s adopted mascot, sits loyally on his stoop.

I was so excited the first time I stepped inside the cozy interior of Elcy’s Café. Conveniently located right down the street from Arcadia, Elcy’s became a great place to break up the day and catch up with friends for lunch. Food options include a variety of pre-made sandwiches and salads.

A featured coffee of the day distinguishes this shop from your typical Starbucks and their blends carry cool local names like Forbidden Drive and Schuylkill (pronounced Skoo-kill) espresso. They make a killer Dirty Chai Latte. Served with an extra shot of espresso, this is great when you need that extra boost of energy. The variety of drinks at Elcy’s is perfect for those who prefer a smoothie or a milkshake to the tradition cup of coffee.

The 10-minute walk from campus is also a bonus if you’ve got a bit of a break between classes in the early afternoon. The only drawback to this coffee shop is its early hours—make sure to give yourself enough time to eat, drink, and relax before the 3 p.m. closing time.

Good Karma Café

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Sidewalk seating in front of Good Karma Café’s Fitler Square location. Photo Credit: Good Karma Café.

One day this summer, while wandering the streets of Philadelphia with my boyfriend, we stumbled across Good Karma Café. Just like the name suggests, Good Karma has an unmistakably positive energy about it; maybe it’s the 100% fair-trade, organic coffee, or, the bubbly staff, helpful to suggest any vegetarian, low-fat, gluten-free, or dairy-free options for those interested.

Drinks here include tasty seasonal specialties, like the delicious Lavender Latte, as well as frappuccinos, hot drinks, Italian sodas, and iced teas.

Lucky for me (and you), I found out that Good Karma has three locations around the city making it a great option for commuter students from the city area or students looking for a cozy spot to stop by while exploring Philly. One of my favorite touches on the Filter Square location (22nd and Pine streets) is the hidden garden in the back.

Starbucks in Barnes & Nobles at Rittenhouse Square

Statue and fountain at Rittenhouse Square Park, across the street from the Barnes & Noble. Photo Credit: Mirsasha.

Statue and fountain at Rittenhouse Square Park, across the street from the Barnes & Noble. Photo Credit: Mirsasha.

Ok, so I know I said that I was looking for local spots around the area, but the Starbucks at Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia is all about location. Right in the center of Philly’s shopping district, this Starbucks lies on the second floor of the three-story Barnes & Nobles. With its large work spaces and free WiFi, it is perfect place to balance work and pleasure.

I love hanging out in Rittenhouse Square Park across the street, as well. With grassy areas and benches, it’s a great space for a picnic. Most of the time, you can catch local buskers and singers play and sometimes they even have free events going on. Also, this Starbucks is particularly nice in the winter, when you want a place to warm up in the middle of a day in the city.

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