Walnut Bridge Coffee House

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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I was very pleased when I learned that a new coffee shop was being installed right near my residence. Looking back, I’m not sure how I allowed my expectations to be raised so. Located on the left bank of the Schuylkill, along a major east-west artery leading into University City, Walnut Bridge Coffee House is strategically sited to function like a trawl, scooping up Penn and Drexel students walking to and from campus, as well as service the anonymous loft-dwellers who live in the box across the street. Nevertheless, in the earliest stages of my brief relationship with Walnut Bridge Coffee House, I was still in the naive throes of relishing the pairing of ‘bridge’ and ‘coffee,’ and, overall, was looking forward to sampling this neighborhood cafe’s goods.

Walnut Bridge Coffee House

It’s nice that the cafe is on a bridge. On the other hand, seeing that there is no bike rack in front of the cafe, one is left with few options for locking, other than to shackle one’s wheels to a nearby, trash-strewn staircase, or to give up on Philadelphia entirely, toss said bike over the bridge, buy a car, and move to New Jersey. I chose the former option, and proceeded towards the coffee shop — again — this time on foot. Upon this second approach, Walnut Bridge Coffee House’s preference for the pedestrian customer became abundantly clear, for there exists no other signage for the cafe than a near-invisible crimson logo sticker’d onto the establishment’s glass face. All evidence of the cafe’s presence is invisible, unless viewed from the sidewalk while on foot. Such design choices cannot be accidental, I assume — but maybe I give the proprietor(s) too much credit.

Walnut Bridge Coffee House

After finally gaining entrance to the cafe, I walk purposefully to the counter. “Just a coffee to go, please.” I pay and wait expectantly. The barista motions towards the wall behind me. Turning, I find several coffee thermoses arranged in a line — apparently I am supposed to pump my own coffee. This is an arrangement that, to me, seems to debase what is most sacred about the cafe transaction. Why don’t they just have a coin-operated contraption that dispenses cups, and then dispense with the barista entirely? This is no ‘house.’ I’d rather lug my bike up a storey to my own apartment, brew a pressful of cafe, and serve myself in a more comfortable setting of detached solitude.

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Walnut Bridge Coffee House

2319 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103

One Response to “Walnut Bridge Coffee House”

  1. Marc Khargan

    Just thought you should be informed that this Coffee House is now closed. There has been a sign about a new coffee shop in the window for several months, but it is unclear if there is to a new coffee shop in this same location, perhaps dropping the focus on the bridge theme and concentrating instead on the historic timber frame construction, or if Walnut Bridge Coffee House is instead reopening farther across the river, becoming a more self-reliant entity, suspended over the water, accessible only via catwalk, zip line, or monkey bridge.

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