Drunk off that drip: Coffee overload in Fishtown, courtesy of New York-based java chain Cafe Bustelo

There’s no reason to bring up gentrification in Fishtown anymore.

Everyone can see it and no one is hiding it. But does anyone see the coffee war brewing here? The factions are as multifaceted as the concept, but it’s worth noting.

Later this month, mega coffee chain Cafe Bustelo install a pop-up coffee spot right on Frankford Avenue in the heart of Fishtown. Cafe Bustelo officials originally hoped for a June 9 launch of the site but confirmed that the pop-up would go up at a later date this month.

The site plans to take a hiatus on Mondays but will be open to the public Tuesday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-6p.m., Friday-Saturdays from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. and from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday Fun Days when you need to sober up just in time to get the back-to-work blues.

The placement is a bit uncanny considering that there are seven coffee houses to choose from on the stretch of Frankford between Girard Avenue to York St. where Fishtown is said to officially end. Seven. Technically, eight if you count the soon-to-be Starbucks mega house with a roaster on-site, a Mecca for the early morning risers.

Count the surrounding area two blocks in any direction and add more than four more coffeehouses peddling Joe.

The location for the New York-based coffee company (which is under the umbrella of the J.M. Smucker jelly empire) couldn’t be more perfect, but one wonders if this would even be considered if they weren’t tipped off to the fact that Fishtown is already Philly’s coffee haven. Perhaps they’re coming in now to stake their claim.

“The Fishtown neighborhood in Philadelphia is a catalyst for artistic development, musical trends and culinary inspiration and we’re excited to bring Café Bustelo to this great community,” said Eduardo Merino, senior brand manager. “Fishtown attracts those who enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of trendy art studios, hip bistros and entertaining nightlife. Our café will fit right in and we can’t wait to be a part of the magic.”

In that entire quote, it was surprising that Merino didn’t weave in the line “and a shit ton of coffee houses” into his statement. It’s a situation where it plans to stack up to the longstanding competition that’s witnessed the evolution of Fishtown. Some locals, needless to say, were skeptical, yet interested in the next new thing coming to the neighborhood.

Cafe Bustelo will set up shop at 1221 Frankford Avenue, the site of the old NOVEM CrossFit studio, in celebration of a new brand of coffee called Sabor Latino. If it’s anything like the site of the coffee company’s Houston pop-up, then Philadelphians are in for something certainly different, yet completely the same in the long run.

“I’m not worried about a novelty,” said Dan Stratman, a longtime Fishtown resident who gets his coffee at the flagship location of La Colombe along Frankford Avenue most mornings. “It’s going to come and some people will check it out because it’s new. But they’ll realize it’s commercial coffee and they’ll keep it moving. Story over.”

Cafe Bustelo summer pop-up | Soon come. 1221 Frankford Ave. CafeBustelo.com


  • Kerith Gabriel's Headshot

    Kerith Gabriel is the former editor-in-chief at Philadelphia Weekly but somehow hasn’t figured out that means he doesn’t have to write nearly as much. As a routine contributor, journalism has been in his blood since his beginnings as a sports writer over a decade ago for the Philadelphia Daily News.

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