Even though this is a food blog, we have to admit: we have a thing for coffee too. Ending a good meal with a quality cappuccino, savoring a single-origin brew at Elixr- even gearing up for a long run or race with a big cup of steaming hot caffeine- coffee is something we enjoy in many forms. While we don't drink it every day, sometimes you just have one of those days, where all you need is a jolt of energy to get yourself going. You know what I'm talking about. Unfortunately, our workplaces don't give us a great variety of choices in terms of picking up a good cup of coffee- sorry, ABP, but your coffee kind of sucks.
A couple of years ago, I stumbled upon the latest and greatest (at the time) food truck phenomena on Penn's campus, HubBub Coffee- just a few blocks from my lab, and brewing my personal favorite Stumptown beans. If you've never tried this Portland-based coffee, you should search it out.
Owned and operated by a Penn grad, the truck has been sadly closed for the past.. year?.. or so, but recently we received word that it was rejoining food truck society (we asked the owner what happened, apparently he's been away attending graduate school). Of course, I needed to go ASAP. The truck sits adjacent to the bridge over 38th Street at Locust (which ironically happens to be immediately next to a Penn-operated Starbucks AND Au Bon Pain), and is hard to miss- it's big and bright red.
The menu is actually pretty extensive for a coffee shop run out of a truck, offering a number of espresso -based drinks as well as lots of options for tea drinkers. Their long list of cold drinks makes me think it would be even more popular in the summer months.
I ordered a cappuccino, which comes in a single size- a little on the small side, but it packs a punch ($3). The beans used on this particular day (I think they rotate through different Stumptown roasts) were a mix from Africa, Indonesia, and Central America, and "Hair Bender" is a well-deserved name for the assortment. While this wasn't the all-time best cappuccino I've ever had (Bodhi gets those honors), it's hands down the best one available in University City. Strong, smooth, and full of flavor, the beans don't lose the war to the steamed milk.
We also got a cup of regular coffee (available in Little or Big), a good deal at $1.50 (even watered down WaWa coffee can be more than that- yep, I'm a coffee snob). The "Little" seeemed on par size-wise with a medium at that coffee shop that rhymes with Smarbucks. It was interesting comparing the flavors of the espresso based drinks to the drip coffee- even though I believe they're made from the same beans, the regular brew was so much smoother (not in a good or bad way). Served with a touch of cream (at our request), it wasn't scorchingly hot which made it dangerously drinkable. Dangerous? Yes- you definitely don't want to gulp this down because it's just too darn good. AND it packs a caffeine punch that you might want to apply slowly.
We're pretty pumped to have HubBub back in business, and while it's still a special treat to skip out of lab for 20 minutes to grab some coffee, you can bet we'll be doing it from time to time! We're hoping they also add back some baked goods to their menu, since they originally served locally baked croissants and muffins. If you live or work in the University City area and drink coffee, do yourself a favor and stop by. They're currently open 7AM-1PM Monday through Wednesday and will add extended hours (and more days of the week) once the weather perks up.
38th and Locust
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