ReAnimator Coffee, painted black on a white background on the brick wall above the door.If there was a Coffee Spot Award for “Weirdest Shape for a Coffee Shop”, I think Philadelphia’s ReAnimator would win it, hands down. It beats even Dublin’s 3FE and London’s FreeState Coffee. Some coffee shops are L-shaped, or variations on a square or a wedge, but ReAnimator is genuinely a triangle, and a pointy one at that.

Of course, just having an interestingly-shaped building doesn’t amount to much if you don’t have very good coffee. Fortunately for us, ReAnimator has very good coffee indeed. It’s one of that breed of roaster-coffee shops that seems, to me at least, far more prevalent in the US than here in the UK.

Right now there’s just the one ReAnimator in the Fishtown neighbourhood, north of the centre, although plans are well underway for a new headquarters, which will combine roastery, training centre and a second café. In keeping with ReAnimator’s neighbourhood philosophy, this will also be in Fishtown.

If you like the coffee, you can buy it on-line, where, according to ReAnimator’s website, it’s roasted to demand. Alternatively, pop into the store itself, where you will find shelves and shelves filled with bags of coffee waiting for you to take them away!

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Philadelphia's ReAnimator Coffee. It's triangular nature is not immediately obvious.
  • That's a better view. I reckon I'm just where the apex ought to be!
  • A lonely table patiently waits on the east side for tomorrow's morning sun.
  • Meanwhile, three of its fellows bask in the evening sunshine on the opposite side.
  • Stepping inside. The view from the door. Quite busy today.
  • The vast, empty space in front of the counter. Baristas Austin & Brian wait behind the counter, exuding an air of confidence.
  • The view the other way, once we'd scared off the customers with our photo-taking.
  • This one was so anxious to leave, he forgot to take his laptop!
  • Greg and I bagged the sofa. And the two chairs. And the coffee table.
  • Philadelphia's (only?) coffee plant. It's not really the right environment...
  • Talking of coffee, there's the odd bag for sale...
  • ... y'know, just one or two...
  • So, to business. The Synesso occupies one end of the counter...
  • The business end of the Synesso...
  • ... with its three, yes three, grinders!
  • Down at the other end of the counter is the filter rack. But wait, what's that behind it?
  • Siamese grinder twins? Double-headed battle-grinder? No, just a Mahlkönig EKK43.
  • Some of the sample output from the EKK43. Very uniform.
  • Anyway, we need coffee!! Nice, concise menu.
  • We put Austin and Brian to work. A barista called Brian? It's too confusing!
  • Greg got this wonderful decaf cappucino.
  • Meanwhile, I wanted pour-over. V60? Or Chemex? Just me, so V60 it is.
  • ReAnimator keeps the filter coffee behind the counter (along with the tea!)
  • Everything is pre-dosed in little tins... Except there's no decaf.
  • Not that this was a problem. 'Pretty good for a decaf...' Hmmm, not over-selling it then!
  • So, let's get going. Woah! That's a pretty big filter rack.
  • So big, in fact, that it takes two kettles to service it!
  • My decaf (which was excellent, by the way) is ground and put in the filter.
  • Start the pour and press Go! on the stop watch...
  • Nice, steady pour...
  • Almost ready.
  • And here it is, complete with a pair of cupcakes.
  • They looked inseparable on the counter; we couldn't bring ourselves to part them.
  • When two coffee bloggers get together... endless 'mine's bigger than yours' arguments!
  • We had to separate the cupcakes in the end. My half of the excellent carrot cupcake.
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So, this triangle thing. ReAnimator sits on a five-way intersection, known locally as “The Forks”. It stands between Susquehanna Avenue and Norris Street as they converge on the intersection, the beautiful brick-built two-storey structure filling the ever-tapering space until it gets to about a door’s width wide. So, yes, technically, it’s not actually a triangle.

ReAnimator has two entrances. The first is in the aforementioned door-width wide apex facing “The Forks”. Entering here, the store stretches out before you, getting ever wider as it recedes into the (admittedly near) distance. The counter’s at the back, running across the base of the triangle. The second door is here, just before the counter on the right, opening onto Susquehanna Avenue.

Outside, there’s plenty of opportunity for tables on the broad (and relatively quiet) pavement (apologies to my American readers: I still can’t bring myself to say “sidewalk”). While I was there in the evening, there were three folding, wooden tables, each with a pair of chairs, set against the west-facing wall on Susquehanna Avenue, catching the evening sun. On the other side, a solitary table waited on Norris Street for the warmth of the following morning’s rays.

Back inside, I was struck how uncluttered ReAnimator is. There’s a pair of two-person tables against each wall, then, as the store widens, a massive couch, complete with coffee table and a pair of comfortable chairs, takes up a large part of the right-hand wall. Opposite is a large wooden display case, shelves full of coffee bags, then a communal table that can seat up to six. Beyond this, there’s a clear run to the counter, with the espresso machine on the left, huddled together with its three grinders and, on the right, across a clear line of demarcation, the six-station filter rack. Nervously keeping the peace in the no-man’s land in between is the cake.

The wooden furniture goes well with the wooden floorboards, themselves a contrast with the whitewashed walls and ceiling, with its exposed air-conditioning conduit. The counter, which looks to have a lovely stone top, is in fact, concrete, a bespoke piece for ReAnimator. Could have fooled me (did, actually).

So, to the coffee. I’d been hitting the coffee shops of Philadelphia, along with my host, Greg of Coffee Guru App fame, all day long and ReAnimator was our last stop. We already had that over-caffeinated twitch about us, so both decided, sensibly, for some decaf: a cappuccino in Greg’s case and a pour-over for me (even though decaf wasn’t on the pour-over menu). We also had the last two cupcakes. Well, Greg was having one, but they looked very cosy on the counter, like they didn’t want to be separated, so I had to have one too. It’s all Greg’s fault.

The coffee was excellent, my decaf evolving in flavour as it cooled. Greg also professed himself happy with his cappuccino. We couldn’t decide who was having which cupcake, so we had half each. The vanilla cupcake was very good, but the carrot one was excellent, very moist and bursting with flavour.

While we were there, the two Marks (co-owners of ReAnimator) turned up with their latest toy investment, a double-headed Mahlkönig EK43 grinder (the EKK 43). Much fun then ensued as it was plugged in and various grinds attempted.

Marh 2018: You can see what I made of ReAnimator’s new (to me, at least) coffee shop and roastery in the nearby neighbourhood of Kensington.

1523 E SUSQUEHANNA AVENUE • PHILADELPHIA • PA 19125 • USA +1 215 425 5805
Monday 06:30 – 19:00 Seating Tables, Sofa, Tables (outside)
Tuesday 06:30 – 19:00 Food Cake
Wednesday 06:30 – 19:00 Service Counter
Thursday 06:30 – 19:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Friday 06:30 – 19:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Saturday 08:00 – 19:00 Power Yes
Sunday 08:00 – 19:00 Mobile N/A
Chain No Visits 9th March 2014

Liked this? Then take a look at the Coffee Spot Guide to Philadelphia for more great coffee Spots.

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