Judging Java: The City of Philadelphia

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Coffee Columnist

The city of Philadelphia. What more do I have to say?

A lot, actually. The city of Philadelphia has the same vibe as the Mos Eisley Spaceport. Many would describe it as a wretched hive of scum and villainy. But I would not.

Over Winter Break, I was asked by my old friend Santa Claus to go on a magical Christmas journey to the city of Philadelphia to spread Christmas cheer. Full documentation of this journey is available on Youtube if you type in “The Moon is a Hologram and the Journey to Spread Christmas Cheer.”

That being said, I am not here to talk about the reasons for my journey, I am here to talk about the coffee that I had along the way.

The first cup of coffee that I had on this magical Christmas journey was at a Dunkin’ Donuts (I understand that they are now technically called Dunkin’ but I will call them what I want) in a travel plaza in Breezewood, PA. I had previously gone to this Dunkin’ Donuts on a class trip to Washington, D.C. last semester, so I knew what to expect – the mediocrity of Dunkin’ Donuts made even more mediocre by the mediocrity of Breezewood, PA.

I opted for a Cookie Butter Cold Brew, a seasonal beverage that they were offering. Since I was on a magical Christmas journey, it just made sense to order a magical Christmas Cookie Butter Cold Brew. Of all the things that Dunkin’ Donuts offers, this is definitely one of their stronger drink offerings, and I would even go so far as to say it is better than a lot of the seasonal offerings from Starbucks and significantly cheaper.

Once in the city of Philadelphia, I drank coffee from three different places. My first cup was a latte from Old City Coffee in the Reading Terminal Market. This market is located in the Center City of Philadelphia, an area that I would personally recommend spending most of your time in if you are visiting the city. While some parts of Philadelphia have been notably referred to as “not nice” and “scary” the Center City area was incredibly pleasant. 

It was especially pleasant because of the Christmas and other holiday decorations and festivities going on, which were similar to the Market Square and PPG Plaza area but on a much larger scale. They even had a Ferris Wheel.

Although not coffee, while in the market I did stop for an authentic cheesesteak, and I would be remiss if I did not share my thoughts on it. It was delicious and genuinely of the best things that I have ever eaten in my entire life. The phrase “it hit different” does not even begin to describe the way that this cheesesteak made me feel. If you are ever in Philadelphia, I recommend going to Spataro’s Cheesesteak in the Reading Terminal Market.

The next cup of coffee that I had was at a Mexican restaurant specializing in breakfast and coffee called Cafe y Chocolat. It was an incredibly cozy restaurant, that served me an incredible cup of coffee when I needed it the most (I was in the city of Philadelphia after all). Not only was the coffee incredible, but I had a breakfast sandwich that can only be described as mind-blowing. The sandwich was topped with jalapeno peppers and was one of the most flavorful things that I have ever had for breakfast.

The final cup of coffee that I had was from Home Grown Coffee in South Philadelphia. I opted for a butterscotch vanilla latte, and it ended up being delicious. It was a wonderful capstone to the coffee that I had had during my weekend in the city of Brotherly Love.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to the following places that I went to in the city that did not have coffee but were wonderful and deserving of the aforementioned shout-out. Shout-out to the First Unitarian Church for hosting the Jeff Rosenstock and Laura Stevenson Neil Young tribute show that was the real reason for my journey to Philadelphia, shout-out to The Pharmacy for hosting the Moon is a Hologram’s first ever on the road show, shout-out to Chris’s Jazz Club for being a very nice place, and shout-out to Fat Jack’s Comic Crypt for having a dedicated Alternative Comics section and a dedicated Love and Rockets shelf. I’d also like to give a shout-out to Zach Strennen, the other person on the magical Christmas journey with me, for being such a gracious tour guide while we were in the city.

Philadelphia is very interesting because we have a pretty big and notable rivalry with them but in reality many of our interests our aligned. We, as the two major cities in our state, must band together. For too long many aspects of our lives have been dictated by the people living in the middle of the state, and we need to put aside our differences to stop them.