Rally

The interesting sign hanging outside Rally in Philadelphia.Philadelphia’s speciality coffee scene is dominated by roaster/coffee shops, with the occasional exception such as Menagerie Coffee. Into this mix comes Rally, a coffee shop which not only isn’t a roaster, but is also a creative marketing agency, as well as doubling as an events and co-working space. However, don’t let that put you off, since it’s still an excellent coffee shop in its own right.

Rally is in Bella Vista, just south of the centre, having opened in early 2016, not long after I visited the city, so I just missed out. However, on my return in 2018, I was alerted to its presence by the lovely folks at Ox Coffee, so naturally I had to check it out.

Using local suppliers wherever possible, Rally originally used Passenger Coffee Roasting from nearby Lancaster. However, it has recently switched to Philadelphia-based roaster Blind Tiger Coffee (which I’ve yet to try), set up last year by Charlie, one of the baristas at Rally. There’s a concise espresso-based menu, plus batch-brew and pour-over through the Clever Dripper. If you don’t fancy coffee, there’s tea, while if you’re hungry, there’s a selection of cake from local bakers, plus ice-cream from Weckerlys in Fishtown.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Coffee shops on corners seems to be a Philadelphia speciality. Here on the corner of...
  • ... Bainbridge and 7th Streets, in a lovely three-storey brick building, is...
  • ... Rally, a creative agency and coffee shop. This is the 7th Street side...
  • ... while the long side is along Bainbridge Street.
  • The door, meanwhile, is on the corner, at 45°, showing no favouritism to either street.
  • Nice sign.
  • Okay, let's go in!
  • Inside, the counter's on the right, set back a little from the door, with seating on the left.
  • A view of the door from the gap between counter and window.
  • The seating down the left-hand side starts with these two two-person tables...
  • ... seen here looking back towards the door.
  • The rest of the seating runs all the way down the windows along the left-hand side...
  • .. starting with three pairs of two-person tables.
  • Opposite these is the only seating on the right-hand side, this row of four stools...
  • ... at the far end of the counter.
  • Beyond this, there are some shelves on the right-hand walll and on the left...
  • ... after the final pair of two-person tables, screened off from the passage to the right...
  • ... is this six-person communal table.
  • One neat feature is that you can hire/reserve any of the tables by the hour.
  • Despite all the windows, there are still plenty of lights. This group hangs over...
  • ... the counter and I was, of course, fascinated by them, either all together...
  • ... or on their own.
  • However, they weren't the only lights. These hung over the tables in the windows.
  • I was even more fascinated by these since they were obscured.
  • This gives a (slightly) better view of their make up.
  • As well as the windows and lights, Rally also has lots of plants.
  • These guys in the windows for example...
  • ... or these ones on the back walls.
  • More plants on the shelves at the back...
  • ... where you'll also find mugs (for sale, I believe)...
  • ... and greetings cards.
  • Meanwhile, there are more plants (and cards) on the shelves at the front, along with...
  • ... retail bags of coffee (from Passenger Coffee Roasters when I visited in 2018).
  • Right. Down to business. The till is at the front of the counter...
  • ... which is also where you'll find the cakes and pastries...
  • ... laid out to tempt you.
  • There is also freshly-baked bread for sale.
  • And ice cream!
  • The menu is on the counter top, next to the till.
  • There's also a selection of tea.
  • The espresso machine, and its twin-headed grinder, are off to the left.
  • The filter coffee, including the obligatory batch-brew & pour-over (via Clever Dripper)...
  • ... is at the back. The choice on Clever Dripper was this Ethiopian single-origin.
  • And here is it, served, as it should be, in a carafe with a glass of water.
  • My coffee, in the cup...
  • ... which I paired with an almond croissant, which is where I'll leave you.
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In what seems to be a Philadelphia trend, Rally is another coffee shop on a corner, in this case Bainbridge and South 7th Streets, occupying the ground floor of a long, rectangular three-storey building. The long side runs along Bainbridge, while the short side faces South 7th. The door, however, shows no favouritism, sitting on the corner at 45° to both.

Inside, Rally is long and thin, with the counter running along the right-hand wall, set back slightly from the front wall, while the seating is on the left. The (short) front wall has a single large bay window, while the left-hand wall is punctuated by three tall, thin French windows with a solitary thin window at the back. During warm weather (ie not early March), Rally opens the French windows to connect to the pavement outside, where extra tables are put out.

Inside, rows of two-person tables line the windows. There’s a solitary two-person table immediately to the left of the door, followed by a second solitary table, and then three further rows, each with a pair of two-person tables. Finally there’s a six-person communal table at the back with a screen to the right, giving it a little bit of privacy. In a neat move, you can pay by the hour to reserve one of the small tables (or the communal table) if you want to guarantee a seat (if, for example, you are using Rally as an office for the day or want to hold a meeting). This neatly solves the problem of laptop users hogging a table. In an extension of this, you can hire the whole space if you really want to.

The counter occupies the front half of the right-hand side, leaving a small gap to the bay window, with some retail shelves on the wall between counter and window. The cakes face front, with the till just around the corner, diagonally opposite the door. Then comes the La Marzocco Linea and its grinder, after which you collect your coffee. The counter continues, although here it’s just seating, with four comfortable saddle-top stools. After that, there’s a minimalist set of retail shelves on the wall beyond the counter. Unusually for a coffee shop, the merchandising is mostly design-related material rather than coffee things. In this respect is reminds me of places Coffeewerk + Press and The Cow & Co Cafe, but on a smaller scale.

When I visited in 2018, Rally was using Passenger Coffee Roasting with a seasonal blend (Stowaway) on espresso, the obligatory batch-brew and a single-origin via the Clever Dripper. This is still something of a rarity in America and, in March 2018, was a relatively new innovation for Rally. Charlie, the barista, wanted to offer something different, with a new single-origin every month.

Having spent all day drinking espresso-based drinks, I went with the Clever, pairing my coffee with a rather tasty almond croissant. The coffee itself was a Bokasso, a washed Ethiopian from Sidamo, served, as it should be, in carafe with a cup on the side. It started out as a very smooth, well-balanced coffee, but the flavour kept evolving as it cooled, coming through much more strongly when cool. In fact, I enjoyed it more and more, so by the time it was cold, it was awesome!

701 SOUTH 7TH STREET • PHILADELPHIA • PA 19147 • USA
www.heyrally.com +1 215 925 3657
Monday 07:00 – 18:00 Roaster Passenger (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Counter; Tables (outside in summer)
Wednesday 07:00 – 18:00 Food Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 18:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:00 – 18:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 08:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 08:00 – 17:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 3rd March 2018

Liked this? Then take a look at the rest of Philadelphia’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Philadelphia.


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