Philadelphia’s Hidden Gem: Leotah’s Place

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This post comes from our contributor FP Naomi.

Tucked away in the heart of Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood, lives Leotah’s Place. I first met the owner, Blew, in my college days, but it wasn’t until a long time later that I finally stumbled into her coffeehouse. My friends and I were strolling down the quiet street, on our way back from a vintage excursion, when I looked up and saw the swinging sign. It was made from planks of wood, and had a weathered but cheery sunflower painted on it. I had heard of Leotah’s ethically sourced coffee and recognized the sunflower logo from a business card that, for years, floated around in my purse reminding me to stop in.

sign

outside cafe doors

The Environment

We went in for a break, a drink, some relaxation – the kinds of things you go to a coffee shop for – and my eyes instantly grew with adoration. Everything, from the food to the décor, was exactly how it should be. Plants at every turn, a chain of little rooms, each splashed with color, rustic elements, and space to temporarily sprawl out and call your own. It was cheery and cozy at the same time, and included all of those little boho elements that I love so much.

cafe interior

lamp

Beginnings

So I got to talking with Blew as she told me about getting her start in direct trade coffee beans (sourced from roasters who work directly with the farmers, ensuring quality and ethical practices). After having left art school with the ambition to open a café, she met a fairy godlike friend. Less was sourcing direct trade coffee beans, and ended up helping Blew setup a hand-delivered subscription service for others in her community. In the end, he gave her $5000 worth of equipment to open the shop, and she’s called him a dear friend ever since.

cafe food

hanging plants

grains and syrup

The Mission

All of the drinks at the coffeehouse are named after culturally significant figures. Oscar Romero, Sarojini Naidu, Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day – the goal is to start conversations, educate people, and empower with knowledge.  I believe much of the café’s success lies in that mission, and their ability to curate it in the most thoughtful and creative of ways.

pouring milk into a cup

The Community

“All of my customers seem to have one thing that they do really well. I like to learn what they do and then connect them to each other,” said Blew, when asked about the community she’s formed. “People have worked together, formed friendships, even gotten married after meeting at Leotah’s. It’s become that third place. There’s your work, there’s your home, and then there’s your third place.”

muffins

chair

The Perfect Cup

So what makes Blew’s perfect? “The very first thing, I think, is knowing that it’s from direct trade…a good source,” Blew explained. “A lot of our culture thinks, ‘I want it be organic first and then from a good source,’ but that’s just thinking about ourselves. We’re not thinking about how it affects people’s families, and about how people are in poverty because of our indulgences.” The perfect cup doesn’t stop there, “It should be organic. Typically organic beans are grown with other vegetation, and the plant absorbs those flavors, giving it more taste. The beans should have a medium light roast, not burnt. And lastly, filtered water.” All together – sweet, direct trade, organic, medium light roast, and filtered water – make Blew’s perfect cup.

To get a better idea, I had her demonstrate how to make Leotah’s signature Mother Theresa latte…

sugar jar

Mother Teresa Latte Recipe

-          1 Tbs Leotah’s Chai Mix

-          3 Counts Caramel Syrup

-          2 Gentle Shakes Cayenne

-          Add Espresso & ½ a Cup of Steamed Milk; whisk

-          2 Shakes Cocoa

-          1 Shake Cinnamon

-          Complete the drink by topping off the rest with steamed milk

latte with foam top

(The Mother Theresa Latte)

Be sure to stop by Leotah’s Place if you’re ever in the Philly area. It’s truly one of the city’s hidden gems.

Check out Naomi’s blog Numie Abbot.

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Comments

Juliette Laura -August 30, 2013, 9:21AM

This looks like it is probably the best cafe ever. I love that everything is from a good source, the atmosphere looks incredible, and that bagel looks wonderful as well!

xo, Juliette Laura
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Annejelina -August 30, 2013, 10:29AM

We have a coffee shop in my neighborhood like this. They are are fair trade/organic and do all in house roasting. So happy to so other places like this. <3 Nothing better than reading this while sipping on my cup of joe ;)
<3 Annejelina
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Dani -August 30, 2013, 10:31AM

This is awesome… you totally need to take me next time I visit!! I think I would LOVE this place :)

<3 dani
http://blog.shopdisowned.com

Cristina -August 30, 2013, 11:42AM

I’m visiting in a few weeks!!!! Ill try and make it here for sure! Looks like my kind of place :) do you guys have any more suggestions for things you should try and do in Philly if you have only one day?! I’ve done all the touristy things but I’m begging my family to pick me up from the airport and spend the day in the city before we have to be in the suburbs for a rehearsal dinner!!

Crista -August 30, 2013, 9:57PM

these photos are phenomenal.

Megan -August 31, 2013, 10:58AM

I’m obsessed with coffee shops, yet I’m not much of a coffee fan. I just love the environment. It’s so calm and relaxing and some how the food and drink is always amazing. I could sit in a hometown coffee shop for hours. :)

Eva -September 1, 2013, 6:34AM

I’m going to be visiting Philly in Oct…now I have a place that I MUST visit!
thank you <3

Emilie Rose -September 1, 2013, 2:35PM

This is fantastic! I’ll make sure to stop by here when i’m hanging around Temple’s campus! As a fellow Philly girl, I spend most of my time in center city, where the hubbub takes place, so it’s nice to find these little gem’s around the city! My recommendation for anyone looking to visit this city, is to stop by Miel Petisserie, it’s a little french bakery/cafe that is one of the few places that sells french style macaroons. It’s located at 17th and walnut <3

Jim Roletter -September 11, 2013, 1:28PM

I love this place. It really is (was?) a hidden gem. Its run well and the atmosphere is awesome.

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