And lo, before us all there lay an ever-expanding field of build-outs; Omaha, San Francisco, Helsinki, Hong Kong, and on anon, a vast expanse of new specialty coffee commerce spanning from sea to shining sea, and beyond. A manifest destiny of excellent new coffee bars. A plethora, a smorgasbord, a king’s ransom in not-yet-open spaces. What began as something simple – a running features concept on a half-reputable coffee blog – has now become something else entirely. We thought this was Build-Outs of Summer; turns out this is The Summer of Build-Outs.

DONA tea, Equitably sources teas and tisanes
DONA Cardamom Rose
DONA chai, specialty coffee's other half
DONA now serving Matcha

For the 14th entry in an ongoing series, we turn attentions back to Philadelpha, a city whose white hot specialty coffee scene (well documented previously on Spurge) shows no signs of slowing. Back in July we featured ReAnimator Coffee, in Philly’s highly hip, warehouse loft laden Fishtown neighborhood; today the focus is on Menagerie Coffee, a charming new space in Philly’s Old City District, just blocks from the iconic Liberty Bell.

The Phillies may suck this summer – even the lowly Seattle Mariners have a better record – but still, from food to beer to coffee, it’s an awesome time to be in Philly. Menagerie is just one more (brand new!) reason why.

As told to by Elysa DiMauro. 


Can you tell us a bit about your new space? 

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The space is relatively small at about 900 square feet and it was previously an art gallery; a brownstone located in the Old City District of Philadelphia. Our aesthetic is functional and clean contrasted with cozy – select areas of reclaimed wood, antique windows, but primarily white walls and white tile. The length front-to-back of the space lends itself to building in different “nooks” and environments. Most of the furniture and the bar will be constructed by a talented design friend of ours.

What’s your approach to serving coffee? 

Our approach to serving coffee is just that, serving coffee. There is little that makes a barista different than a server at an upscale restaurant and a smile goes a long way. The coffee will be good because we care; we’re using roasters we believe in and methods that we trust. The goal of Menagerie is to create a feeling of home, of dwelling – and that’s where the name comes from. At the same time, we recognize our task to equally serve those customers who want to learn more about the beans and the methods, and those who want to get their large coffee to-go and catch the subway.


Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?

For the espresso bar, we’ll be using a custom color 3-group La Marzocco GB5 and a Mahlkonig K30 Vario grinder. The grinder we bought gently used from Josh Taves of Dogwood Coffee (he trained and competed with it in the USBC). Coffee on tap will be Fetco-brewed and we’ll be doing both 12 and 16 ounce pourovers on a Hario V60 bar setup. In an effort to represent both the East Coast and the Midwest, we’re proudly serving Ceremony Coffee of Annapolis, MD and Dogwood Coffee Co. of Minneapolis, MN.


What’s your hopeful target opening month? What’s the address?

September. Ready, set, go. We’re in the “specialty coffee wasteland” of Philly, specifically the Old City neighborhood, at 18 S. 3rd Street.

Follow Menagerie Coffee on Twitter and Instagram for more updates, both at @MenagerieCoffee.

Can’t get enough build-outs? Explore them all in the Build-Outs of Summer archive. 

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