Ultimo Coffee, Newbold

The sign, painted on an old window, on the back wall at Ultimo Coffee's Newbold coffee shop.The first ever speciality coffee shop I visited in Philadelphia was Ultimo Coffee’s Graduate Hospital branch on Catherine Street. It is therefore a little ironic that it’s taken me two years to visit the original, Newbold, on South 15th Street, where Ultimo started back in 2009. As is usual in these cases, the loss is all mine.

Ultimo, rather unusually, shares the space with Brew, a speciality bottle beer company, with Ultimo and the coffee taking the front of the store and Brew taking the back, the two sharing the seating. Ultimo, also unusually, has a strong focus on pour-over coffee, something which is slowly catching on in the US, but which Ultimo has championed from the start, using BeeHouse drippers to serve an interesting selection of single-origin filters to go with two more on espresso.

During my visit in February, Counter Culture was the house-roaster, with occasional guests on espresso and filter. However, since then Ultimo has started roasting its own coffee (with the roastery based at Newbold), which is now available on-line and in both stores. If you’re in a hurry, there’s bulk-brew until 11am, while for those with a sweet tooth, there’s a selection of cake.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The original Ultimo Coffee, looking fairly compact on the corner of S 15th & Mifflin Streets.
  • And here lit up at night when it looks even better!
  • However, perceptions can be deceptive. Ultimo goes a long way back to the right...
  • ... where it also plays host to brew, a beer shop.
  • Interesting pillar placement... Let's go in, shall we?
  • Summing it up nicely on the door: coffee & beer.
  • A panoramic view from just inside the door. The coffee end is at the front, beer at the back.
  • There's limited seating up at the front, mostly clustered around the door.
  • There's this two-person window-bar to the left of the door...
  • ... and this one to the right.
  • There's also a two-person table by the counter, plus this bar stool.
  • There's lots more seating towards the back, including a row of tables by the window...
  • ... and this row of tables down the centre.
  • Meanwhile, there's beer along the left-hand wall...
  • ... which you can try if you like.
  • The staff (for the beer, at least) are tucked away at the back, where you also pay.
  • Although there are lots of windows, there are lots of lights too...
  • ... which I was obvously fascinated by. I particularly liked the reflections in the windows.
  • There are also these lights at the back, along with this interesting drawing on the wall.
  • Back at the front, there's a retail shelf to the left of the counter.
  • There's coffee and merchandising for sale from a variety of roasters...
  • ... as well as coffee-making equipment in the shape of these Bee House Drippers.
  • Alternatively, how about a Chemex?
  • Nice sign, by the way...
  • ... which is matched by the concise coffee menu.
  • For details of the actual coffee, there's another menu on the counter.
  • Talking of which, here's the counter, which is directly opposite the door.
  • The coffee side of the operation is to the left...
  • ... while the food is on the right.
  • There's a range of tempting sweet things...
  • ... as well as a selection of biscotti in jars on the top of the counter.
  • The coffee: espresso, on the left, pour-over on the right, and, at the back...
  • ... the bulk-brewers and the rest of the filter operation.
  • Ultimo is big fan of pour-over, using these Bee House Drippers.
  • Man making coffee.
  • The espresso side of the operation is off to the left.
  • I started with an espresso and a slice of raspberry crumble.
  • My espresso, an Ethiopian Guji from Tandem, served in a glass.
  • Lovely crema.
  • My raspberry crumble.
  • I finished things off with the same Tandem coffee as a pour-over.
Javascript Sliders by WOWSlider.com v4.6

From the outside, Ultimo Coffee looks like a pretty compact spot, perched on the corner of South 15th and Mifflin Streets in south Philadelphia. Certainly it looks a lot smaller than the Graduate Hospital branch on Catherine Street branch. However, appearances can be deceptive since Ultimo goes quite a long way back along Mifflin Street, ending up maybe four times longer than it is wide. Since it’s on a corner, there’s plenty of light despite these dimensions. The narrow side, which looks out over South 15th Street, is entirely glass, while about two-thirds of the Mifflin Street façade is given over to windows.

The door is a cut-off on the corner, with symmetrical window-bars to the left and right. Even the counter mirrors this, with a cut-off corner holding the La Marzocco espresso machine, which faces the door. To the right of this is a row of BeeHouse filters, then comes the cake, before you reach the till at the far end, where you’ll also find the coffee menu. Apart from a solitary bar-stool and a two person table in front of the La Marzocco, that’s it for seating in the front part of Ultimo.

However, beyond the counter, Ultimo morphs into the Brew beer shop, which is where you’ll find the remaining seating. Starting directly opposite the end of the counter, there’s a row of three two-person tables lining the window on Mifflin Street, an up-and-over affair, which, in the warm weather, can be opened up to the street. Beyond this are three more two-person tables and another in the corner, plus a line of five two-person tables down the centre.

This is definitely no longer a coffee shop (although you can sit down here with your coffee). The entire left-hand wall is given over to bottles of beer, as well as 10 beers on tap which you can taste. You can either buy your beer to take home, or you can grab a seat and drink it there and then. Either way, you need to pay at the separate beer counter/till right at the back, tucked away in a corner (Brew is a separate business).

When I was visiting in February, Ultimo had yet to start roasting its own coffee. Back then, the guest espresso was an Ethiopian Guji from Tandem Coffee Roasters, which was also available as a filter, so naturally I had to try both.

As an espresso, it was really fruity and sadly way too punchy for my palette. It really hit me in the back of the mouth though, rather than the sides, but despite this, I was pulling funny faces as I drank it. Switching to the pour-over, I found that it was a little too hot at first, but as it cooled, it was much more to my taste, less punchy and with more balance, although retaining its fruity notes.

I paired this with a slice of the raspberry crumble, which was lovely. A tray bake, with a pastry base and sides, it was then covered with raspberry jam and topped with crumble, rather like a crumble version of a Bakewell Tart. It was simultaneously really sweet, crunchy and tasty. I enjoyed it so much that I may have to work out how to make it myself!

www.ultimocoffee.com +1 215-339-5177
Monday 07:00 – 20:00 Roaster Ultimo (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 20:00 Seating Tables, Window Bar, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 20:00 Food Cake, Savoury Pastries
Thursday 07:00 – 20:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:00 – 20:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 20:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 08:00 – 20:00 Power Limited
Chain Local Visits 11th February 2016

As well as the Graduate Hospital branch, you can also see what I made of Ultimo’s new branch, Rittenhouse, when I visited in March 2018.

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

If you liked this post, please let me know by clicking the “Like” button. If you have a WordPress account and you don’t mind everyone knowing that you liked this post, you can use the “Like this” button right at the bottom instead. [bawlu_buttons]
Don’t forget that you can share this post with your friends using the buttons below.

7 thoughts on “Ultimo Coffee, Newbold

  1. Pingback: Ultimo Coffee, Graduate Hospital | Brian's Coffee Spot

  2. Pingback: Brian’s Travel Spot: Philadelphia & Beyond, 2016 | Brian's Coffee Spot

  3. Pingback: Peddler Coffee | Brian's Coffee Spot

  4. Pingback: Ultimo Coffee, Rittenhouse | Brian's Coffee Spot

  5. Pingback: Rival Bros, Tasker Street | Brian's Coffee Spot

  6. Pingback: Tandem Coffee Roasters | Brian's Coffee Spot

  7. Pingback: Cupping at Tandem Coffee Roasters | Brian's Coffee Spot

Please let me know what you think. Guidelines for comments are in the "Posts" drop-down menu.