Peddler Coffee

Espresso in a glass at Peddlar Coffee, a single-origin Brazilian Materia.I was last in Philadelphia two years ago when I visited a bunch of places, took photos and wrote them up, but, for a variety of reasons, failed to publish them. This week, therefore, is going to be Philadelphia week, which kicked off yesterday with the original Plenty Café, on Passyunk Avenue, and continues today with Peddler Coffee, another in a long line of Philadelphia coffee shop/roasters.

When I first visited Peddler, following a tip-off from my friend Greg, it had been going for just under a year, serving a range of single-origin coffees on espresso and on pour-over, exclusively through the Chemex. Fast-forward two years and Peddler will be celebrating its third birthday next week. It’s still going strong, still roasting great single-origin coffee and still essentially doing the same things, with a few tweaks here and there for good measure. As well as coffee, there’s tea, and, if you’re hungry, a range of cakes and pastries.

In a city full of physically beautiful coffee shops, Peddler is up there with the best of them. Indeed, I had forgotten how beautiful it is. Kitted out in dark wood and exposed brick, it’s a glorious place to drink your coffee.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Peddler Coffee on the north side of Philadelphia, looks pretty small from this angle.
  • However, it actually stretches all the way back to the (left-hand) end of the building.
  • Technically this is the front, by the way, on Spring Street.
  • The front corner is pretty much all glass, as seen here from the inside.
  • The door, in particular, is a thing of beauty...
  • ... seen here in reverse so that you can read the writing.
  • It's flanked by a pair of two-person window-bars, this one to the left...
  • ... and this one to the right (from 2016).
  • Also from 2016, these two fold-down seats were the only chairs in the whole shop.
  • They kicked off a row of four tables along the exposed brick of the right-hand wall.
  • They've gone now, replaced (as you can just see here) by a fifth, slightly higher, table.
  • The other major seating change is over by the counter. In 2016 these tables formed...
  • ... a wall between door & counter, now removed by dint of taking out one of the tables...
  • ... and turning the other one around by 90 degrees. Who tried to eat it though?
  • Beyond this is the counter, on the left, and another bar, on the right. This is from 2016...
  • ... and this is a similar view from 2018.
  • The bar, which provides useful overflow seating.
  • The front, naturally, is bright, but the back needs plenty of artificial lights.
  • These beauties hung above the counter in 2016, casting pretty patterns on the ceiling...
  • ... and they were still there in 2018, looking as gorgeous as ever.
  • Obligatory close-up.
  • I particularly liked the play of the lights on the exposed brick of the back wall...
  • I'm not sure I did it justice in this photo.
  • The Peddler logo (of sorts) carved into one of the table tops.
  • The counter is a large affair, dominating the back of Peddlar, coffee to the fore...
  • ... with cakes and food at the back.
  • This lovely wooden case holds the baked goods, seen here in 2016...
  • ... and looking very similar on my return two years later.
  • Right at the back though, there used to be sandwiches/salads. Alas, these are no more.
  • The water station, and DIY toaster for the muffins, are still there though.
  • The drinks menu from 2016...
  • ... and the equivalent from 2018. Again, not a lot has changed.
  • Back in 2016, the various beans were chalked up on a slate...
  • ... whereas now they are printed out and stuck on said slate.
  • There's also one for the tea.
  • The beans, naturally, are also available to take home.
  • The espresso side of Peddler, from 2016. The La Marzocco Strada & its two grinders...
  • ... are still there in 2018, but the EK-43 has gone, potentially never to return.
  • Instead the beans are pre-dosed and ground on demand is this old, but reliable, grinder.
  • Peddler Coffee's main thing is the use of the Chemex. Here two are on the go...
  • ... with the barista topping up each one in turn...
  • ... and then letting the coffee brew for a while before topping up again.
  • The basic recipe is 25g of coffee, with 50ml of water for a 30 second bloom...
  • ... followed by another 300ml of water and another three minutes of brewing.
  • Then, once the coffee has all filtered through, pour to serve.
  • My only slight quibble: it's all poured into a single mug.
  • Nice presentation though.
  • My coffee, from 2016, the Finca San Jose from Costa Rica, eyes up the espresso machine.
  • On my return, in 2018, I pressed the espresso machine into action. Nice extraction.
  • My espresso, the Prima Materia from Brazil, served with a glass of sparkling water.
  • I love espresso served in a glass.
  • I couldn't resist: I had to have an English muffin, toasted of course, to go with it.
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Like Ultimo Coffee and Plenty Café, Peddler Coffee is one of those places that that looks small from the outside but is much bigger than it seems. On the corner of North 21st and Spring Streets, it’s across the road from the Franklin Institute and a couple of blocks from the Barnes Institute, a world class art gallery.

From the street, it looks like it’s a small, square coffee shop, with the door on the corner, at 45⁰. However, stepping inside, you find that Peddler extends a long way back, occupying the entire building along 21st Street, ending up maybe three times deeper than it is wide. Nevertheless, the bulk of the seating is in the square part at the front, where all the natural light is, which makes sense.

The door is flanked by a window-bar on either side, each with a pair of stools. Taking the front to be the short side facing Spring Street, the majority of the seating lines the right-hand wall, starting with a high, two-person table, followed by four low, two-person tables. When I first visited, a pair of tables between door and counter made access a little difficult. However, one of these has since been removed, and the other, a four-person table, turned around by 90⁰, which has opened Peddler up no end.

The counter is in the back two-thirds of Peddler on the left-hand side, with a two-group La Marzocco Strada espresso machine facing the front. The main part of the counter faces the right-hand wall, with a generous space for the three Chemex (Chemexes?) and the till, while at the far end is a cabinet with cakes and pastries. The wall behind the counter is taken up with grinders (espresso, decaf and filter), a hot water boiler and cold-brew kit. There’s more seating back here, with a narrow five-seater bar against the right-hand wall, opposite the front part of the counter.

Peddler Coffee only roasts single-origins, with four or five on offer at any one time, the specific coffees on offer change on seasonal basis, roughly every 2-3 months. One of these is always a decaf, with another (the top one on the menu) available as espresso. Meanwhile, all of them can be had as a pour-over through the Chemex.

Before 11am, Peddler offers a neat alternative to batch-brew. Instead of using an automated brewer, a large Chemex is prepared and then kept warm in a standard batch-brew flask. It’s batch-brew by stealth!

When I first visited in 2016, I had the excellent Finca San Jose from Costa Rica as a Chemex. This had a surprising amount of body (for a Chemex) and was well-balanced, with a strong flavour, and got even better as it cooled in the mug. On my return, I was sorely tempted to have another Chemex, but instead I went for an espresso, rewarded with the gorgeous Brazilian Prima Materia.

This smelled fantastic and was served in a glass with a glass of sparkling water on the side. To drink, it was no less impressive, turning out to be beautifully well-balanced with a rich, complex taste. A very impressive coffee indeed. I paired this with an heirloom whole-wheat English muffin, toasted of course, to soak up all the caffeine (the espresso was my fifth coffee that day!).

Monday 07:00 – 18:00 Roaster Peddler (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Window Bars (stools)
Wednesday 07:00 – 18:00 Food Sandwiches, Salads, Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 18:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:00 – 18:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 08:00 – 17:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 13th February 2016, 5th March 2018

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

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