With a Starbucks around every corner, privately owned cafes tend to struggle under corporate competition. On 20th and Sansom streets, steps from a Wawa, a Dunkin Donuts and, without fail, a Starbucks, the Crimson Moon Coffee and Tea House has held its own for over 10 years. Specialty coffees, an espresso bar, exotic teas, fruit drinks, homemade desserts, vegetarian sandwiches and wraps satisfy the caffeine craving, the sweet tooth and the grumbling stomach. A sign at the entrance welcomes visitors and thanks them for supporting a “local, independently owned and operated coffee house.”
Owner Koko Darling describes the clientele as “international” because the store has been around for so long and attracts people from all over the city and the suburbs. The coffee is equally as diverse, with a Spanish-style Koko Cubana, Vietnamese coffee, a spicy, Indian-style Marsala Chai and a Kenyan coffee as the house blend.
While the traditional espresso, latte and hot cocoa (renamed Hot Koko after Darling) make the menu, other creative specialties expand it to appeal to those looking for something different. Particularly delicious are the Chocolate/Banana Cappuccino, the Strawberry Latte, a Mango Lassi (mango juice and dairy-free cream) a Hot Berry (warmed strawberry milk), and the Conpanna (espresso topped with whipped cream).
Desserts are French, Italian, Middle Eastern, Jewish, and home-style, and including brownies, coffeecakes, and croissants – these vary daily. While not all sandwiches are vegetarian, options for vegetarians and vegans are made with hummus, vegetarian chicken salad, and lentil and spinach.
What further sets the Crimson Moon apart is its décor. Velvet couches, bold colors, ample seating and two wall-length windows create a cozy atmosphere. Williamson wanted the ambiance to be “colorful, warm and vibrant, combined with music that is international, club, and some hip hop. In the front [by the windows] I want people get a feel for what’s out there, in the back it’s more like someone’s home, we have a good fusion, and then a middle room for group seating so people can have their meetings and not be too distracted.”
Frequent live performances by area musicians or a DJ are supplemental entertainment.
The Crimson Moon opens at 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday, at 11 a.m. on Sunday, and is open late night. Prices start at $1.50 for coffee, and average for specialty drinks is between $3 and $5.
Nadia Stadnycki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org