Joe Coffee, a New York-based coffee shop, will open its doors in Philadelphia today, April 2. The artisan coffee shop will become part of the Rittenhouse Square streetscape, on 18th and Walnut streets.
Philadelphia developers approached Jonathan Rubinstein, co-founder and proprietor of Joe Coffee, about bringing the coffee shop to the city. This will be the first location outside of New York.
“We had a couple of different cities listed – Philadelphia, Boston and D.C.,” Rubinstein said. “We kept an open mind, and it just opened up for us to come to Philadelphia.”
There are currently eight Joe Coffee shops in New York, including one at Columbia University; Rubinstein said this is one of the busiest locations. Expansion plans include bringing the coffee shop to Drexel University later this year.
“When deciding where we would be expanding to, we kept thinking about how the brand would transfer over to another city,” Rubinstein said.
Rubinstein passed the vision of the New York-based coffee shop to Amy Hattemer, the director of Joe Coffee Philadelphia. Hattemer is working to ensure the vision of Philadelphia’s Joe Coffee is as transparent as New York’s.
“I started in New Zealand. There was a lot of pride surrounding coffee. When I came back, my best friend worked at Joe in New York, and I asked her about job opportunities,” Hattemer said.
She was hired to work at Joe Coffee in Grand Central, one of the busiest locations, Hattemer said.
Rittenhouse patrons, residents and business people are eager for the Philadelphia coffee shop opening.
Greg Stevenson, Philadelphia Joe Coffee construction manager, said the 10,093-square-foot shop will feature both indoor and outdoor seating. The site included reclaimed wood counters and a rotating showcase of photography from local artists.
“I’m excited, because it’s close. My daughter lives in Manhattan, and she said it’s fabulous, and I’m a coffee connoisseur, so I can’t wait until it opens,” Dawn Balog, an actuarial consultant, said.
Joe Coffee shops are on a mission to become viable members of the communities they inhabit.
“We like to build a coffee community around us. We like to work with other places doing good for the community,” Hattemer said.
Joe Coffee has started fundraising initiatives involving the coffee community, including Haiti relief, “Baristas for boobs” and Hurricane Sandy relief.
The cafe will offer drip coffee and espresso beverages using a selection of its own Joe beans, roasted in New York City, and Intelligentsia Black Cat beans for espresso.
“We offer quality mixed with hospitality. Our menu is really basic, people would never feel intimidated,” Rubinstein said. “We hope to establish brand loyalty with our customers in Philadelphia.”
Joe Coffee will serve tea and a variety of baked goods, including selections from Philadelphia’s Brûlée Bakery and custom Joe treats from Brooklyn’s Ovenly. Prices will range from $2 to $5.
“Joe Coffee is not your deli coffee, and they don’t pretend to be,” Rubinstein said. “We did some research on the market, and these prices are about average for coffee in Philadelphia.”
The coffee shop serves organic and direct trade coffee.
“Direct trade coffee is purchased straight from the growers by the importers and roasters, cutting out the traditional middleman. We like it, because it allows us to develop a close working relationship with the growers,” Rubinstein said.
Communicating both value and quality to customers extends to the way baristas are trained.
There will be 14 baristas working at the Rittenhouse Square location.
“Baristas come from area colleges. They’re artists and musicians,” Hattemer said.
“We train our baristas in on several topics: approximately 12 sessions on espresso theory, then practical teaching, then milk theory, then milk steaming and then combining all those elements. Each barista has to pass a test for a panel to determine whether or not the drinks are up to Joe standards,” Rubinstein said.
Rubinstein anticipates that the planned Drexel University location of Joe Coffee could be the company’s busiest location in Philadelphia. The company is planning to hire a larger pool of staff there than at the Rittenhouse location.
“Since I moved here in January, I’ve been blown away by the food and beverage scene in Philadelphia. I’m excited that Joe Coffee is joining that world,” Hattemer said.
Priscilla Ward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.