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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

For a caffeine fix

Cappuccino+from+Pilgram+Roasters+%28Photo+by+Alex+Mark+20%29.
Cappuccino from Pilgram Roasters (Photo by Alex Mark ’20).

Three local coffeehouses fit for finals prep.

I love curling up with a hot cup of mocha in the mornings while my mind gets ready for the day. But I’m sick of crowded chains like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, where I only feel welcome to stay for as long as it takes to get my drink.

I decided to shake things up. I visited local coffee shops within three miles of St. Joe’s campus and discovered not just one, but three great options to satisfy my caffeine itch.

Pilgrim Roasters

Location: 4120 Main St., Manayunk

Coffee Ordered:  Cappuccino (espresso with frothed milk) for $3.75

Located on Main Street Manayunk between Pompanoosuc Mills and Salon L, Pilgrim Roasters is fairly new. The shop was founded in 2016 by owners Dan Faehl and Ryan Connelly, and offers a relatively basic menu of coffee and tea.

While one would be hard-pressed to find a pumpkin spice latte on this menu, the simplicity of the available drinks is the perfect method of showing off the true star of Pilgrim Roasters: the high-quality coffee, which is roasted in-house.

In order to understand what high-quality coffee is, Faehl explained it’s best to think of it like orange juice. Just as fresh-squeezed orange juice is superior to juice from the carton, ripe, hand-selected coffee beans are superior to most processed coffees. In fact, the coffee in most chain shops and grocery store bags is roasted to a strength which causes the beans to lose their unique taste.

“[It] destroys all those little constituents which make the coffee special,” Faehl said.

As for my cappuccino, it was the best I’ve ever tasted. The foam was light and fluffy, and the espresso was mild enough for me to taste its bright, nutty flavor. It was even served topped with a little foam heart, making it deliciously Instagram-able.

The shop itself is airy and well-lit, with simple, uncluttered décor and enormous windows. The roaster is prominently displayed while the small seating area takes up the middle section. It’s a great space to spread one’s books over a table and study the day away.

Volo Coffeehouse

Location: 4360 Main St., Manayunk

Coffee Ordered: Small Americano for $2.50

Volo Coffeehouse is exactly what the word “coffeehouse” brings to mind: a place with a bright, vibrant atmosphere and colorful abstract art covering the walls. The shop is just loud enough to enable comfortable conversation, and the antique-looking molded ceiling makes a wonderful distraction from long hours of writing.

Volo’s prices are, in general, reasonable, with  most expensive item on the drink menu being a large mocha, which costs $4.50. My own drink was bold, rich and piping hot. In other words, it forced me awake with the first sip.

Kelly Monahan ’16 has worked as a barista at Volo for the past two years. Her favorite drink to make is a latte, but she also recommends a classic Americano.

In addition to serving standard coffee and tea beverages, Volo also offers lunch and bakery items such as paninis, soups and yogurts.

Rival Bros. Coffee

Location: 210 Bala Ave., Bala Cynwyd

Coffee Ordered: Macchiato for $3.25 and an apple tart for $3.50

Rival Bros. Coffee, which opened this past August, is another newcomer to the area. Its big, open space is reminiscent of a garage, though the walls are adorned with paintings. The space is well lit, with decorated windows covering  the entire front of the shop. Jazz music filters through the shop while customers are immersed in their work or studies, making the space an excellent early morning study spot.

According to barista Ian Donnelly, the shop is a bit of a “work-in-progress” in terms of utilizing its enormous space.

In fact, Donnelly said, many people who walk into the shop come in expecting a sort of Dunkin’ Donuts operation behind the counter. However, the front counter is nothing like one at Dunkin’: it’s made of clean, light wood, and the person behind the espresso machine is easy to spot.

The macchiato I tried was the traditional four-ounce cup, far more intense than anything Starbucks serves. Its espresso base packs a punch of bold, intense flavor, but the added milk mellows it to a dark, earthy taste.

Overall, this is a great place to spend time studying or quietly chatting with friends, especially for those into bold coffee and freeform jazz.

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