3406 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA | Directions 1910439.953598 -75.192478
Neighborhoods: University City, West Philadelphia
Wawa coffee for $2.05 – This is just about coffee because I don't buy 90% of what's in the shop. The brewed coffee is expensive and old. The 6 or so pots sit there all day steaming away on the hot plates. Maybe he changes them, but it doesn't taste like it. For $2.05 or whatever (some stupid amount over $2 that get's you a half pound of change back) the cup of coffee isn't great. When I forget this and go anyway, I bring my own container which is worth $0.00 in discount.
The whole bean selection is great with a lot of countries and beans represented, but I don't know how fresh it is. I bought a 1/2 lb. bag and it tasted old (IMHO). So when I went in the next time I asked John what was fresh and he said everything is fresh and that it's all brought in every 2 weeks. But I never see people buying beans when I'm in there or hanging out outside Sansom. I figured that I just let it sit too long or didn't brew it right, so I decided to buy another lb. of beans and try again. To repeat: I believed him and asked for another pound of coffee.
But then he started berating me about me being the first person in 27 years to question the freshness of his coffee. He kept saying this over and over "you are the only one in 27 years", etc. So I said never mind. I wasn't going to spend my $ at some place that doesn't respect me as a customer, which is too bad because he's probably right that the coffee is almost always really fresh. But who's going to trust a place that has 6 pots steaming away on hot plates for $2.05? I'll go back to getting my coffee from *$$ where they at least don't yell at you for buying their products, even if it is crappy coffee.
I live in San Diego now, but dream of this place – I used to live in West Philly years ago and remember this place fondly. The chocolates from Belgium and France that could be found nowhere else, the outstanding selection of French language and British magazines, and when I smoked, there were always the best premium cigarettes. I plan to visit next time I'm in town. I seem to remember that the name of the place is taken from the first time the owner saw Paris. Such a special thing he took that moment and created this shop. And there is better espresso in South Philly than there, but none so fine, sadly, in my corner of San DIego.
Travel the planet for magazines, coffee, smokes and candy without leaving West Philly. – In Short
This shop fills the first floor of the rowhouse containing White Dog Cafe and Penn's law school. A sole proprietor stands in a narrow space behind the counter or guides customers to magazines like Sight and Sound, Italian Vogue, and Le Monde Diplomatique. Every lit journal imaginable, plus new American magazines and newspapers, share space with an assortment of imported teas, rare chocolates and sweets runs. Tobacco fiends and coffee lovers will also be satisfied.
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