Wednesday, July 12, 2006

CC: Mugshots CoffeeHouse and JuiceBar

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Subject: Mugshots CoffeeHouse and JuiceBar
Location visited: Philadelphia, PA
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 4+ [see key]

*Updated 8/6/09

Probably the easiest part of finding this place is that it's right across the street from Eastern State Penitentiary (hence the name "Mugshots"). But the play off the prison's name is the only thing the two have in common.

I had first spotted Mugshots this past Fall when coming out of a tour of ESP. The look is well-done, with outside seating bordering the ramp that goes inside. Inside the place is superbly decorated, with a good deal of seating options.

The signature (or so it seems) of this place is that everything is organic/fair trade/environmentally friendly, which can be a great aspect of the business if it's not at the expense of quality (cause if it stinks, why bother?). The menu, as the title suggests, has a juice bar as well as other food and drinks.

The coffee is Equal Exchange out of Massachusetts, a socially-conscious roaster that makes not a bad cup of coffee (I didn't think it amazing though). The espresso was from the same place, but the drink that I got was a little bleh, whether it was the espresso machine or the coffee itself I couldn't tell.

The tea was Choice organic teas, a socially-conscious tea distributor based out of Seattle. I didn't get to try it, though I do plan to soon, but it looked promising. The chai was Oregon Chai, which is good if you like your chai sweet and thick (of course prep of the milk has a lot to do with it as well).

Overall, of Philly coffeehouses, Mugshots is a good place to grab some java, especially if you're going to visit the neighboring penitentiary.

*Update 8/6/09
Wanting to revisit a lot of my older haunts, I made it back to this Philly spot the other day to give this review a bit of an update.

I didn't bother with the drip again as it's still Equal Exchange (and my opinion of their coffee has greatly degenerated over the years) but they DO offer a coffee featured from the Independent Coffee Cooperative (this month was Crescent Moon's Las Milagras) which looks promising.

I did get an espresso, also Equal Exchange, which came out surprisingly fair. While it had the expected punch of charred bean, it also had notes of dark chocolate, nutmeg and tobacco. Not the best shots ever but pretty good for what I expected.

On other notes, the seating seems to have expanded and the place seems to still be going strong.

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