We recently visited the Philadelphia area to spend time with my brother and his wife for the holidays. One weekday we took the local train into the good City of Brotherly Love. We saw some historic sites and turned Old Philly’s Reading Terminal Market inside-out. It was brisk and chilly for Philly on foot that day, so we were happy to enter the market right at the Old City Coffee espresso stand — how convenient! We had two right-on Americanos and learned they also have a roasterie inside the market.
Warmed up, we wound and tasted our way through some local, some international foods to the Old City Coffee roasterie, where they had coffee from all over the world. What really caught our eye was coffee from India. I know South India is a major coffee producing region, but we don’t often find Indian whole beans in the States, and Old City had brought it direct from the farm. They sell “India Plantation A” from the state of Karnataka, freshly roasted, in five pound bags. Thinking of friends and family back in Seattle who would enjoy it with us, of course we had to buy a bag!
It is a light to medium roast and Brian wrestled with getting the extraction just right to reveal the most flavor. He knows coffee better and I’m including a few of his notes here, too — it had to be pressed, first of all. For how to use a press pot or “French” press, see CoffeeGeek. Brian suggests a coarser than usual grind, stresses it needs to be even, and he steeps this coffee for a full 4, maybe 5 minutes. India Plantation A is less forgiving to brew than a dark or super sweet roast, but when you get it right the subtle flavors really shine. Even people who never drink coffee without cream or sugar have enjoyed this coffee “black” or as it is, a nice medium brown. We tasted tobacco and butterscotch in a super smooth body, it had a lot of sweetness without being dark, and was still balanced with pleasant acidity. Old City roasts these beans well :)
We still have plenty of India Plantation A and we’ll share with anyone in Seattle who makes it to our place before they vanish. That’s an invitation, people! so truly anyone, if you’re out there …
Coffee was the only shopping I can brag that we did in Philly for ourselves, believe it or not! But we did enjoy our time walking around this local market, which opened in 1893. It has fewer produce stands than Pike Place or a typical United States farmers’ market, but it stands behind the same old principles of supplying the fresh and local with love! It is known for its amazing prepared food stalls and I can testify it’s a great place to eat.
Nothing makes me happier than visiting old markets to meet hard working people who bring everyday goods to all of us. I can go without “shopping” for myself for months, but ask me to go to a good market everyday and I will. It also reminds me, my grandmother went every morning to pick fresh vegetables from our local market … some ways you do turn out like your parents and grandparents :)
We enjoyed lots of different, small delights, instead of one big meal at the market. Indian samosas and Middle Eastern baklavas were two highlights. I found some great herbs for my Thanksgiving side dish and Brian had a good old beer at a tiny Biergärten inside the market. Most of all, I’ll never forget that they had a Cookbook Stall, something I think all markets should have. With everyone shopping for food right there, where better! Enough said, enjoy a few more of my shots from good old Philadelphia!