10 Fall Lattes We’re Sipping This Autumn
Skip the regular coffee. Here's where to indulge in Philly's best specialty lattes that will keep you warm all fall.
I’m a coffee-all-the-time-in-all-forms kind of person. I like it iced in the summer and hot in the winter, mostly black but sometimes with milk; sometimes a latte or cappuccino if I’m feeling celebratory. Those people who drink iced coffee in the dead of winter or steaming hot cups in the heat of the summer — that’s not me. I prefer to give myself over to the whims of the season, especially during the transition from summer to fall. This does not mean exclusively pumpkin spice, though one or two might make their way into my fall coffee rotation. Instead, I’m leaning into all the spiced specials that coffee shops across the city are offering. Here are some of the best lattes to sip on this season.
Forîn Cafe, Port Richmond
Leave it to Forîn to always lean a little outside the norm. Yes, they’re doing a gourd-centric latte, but instead of pumpkin they’re using locally sourced honeynut squash for a modern take on the classic fall flavor.
Ultimo, multiple locations
The Ultimo Coffee location in Newbold is my go-to spot for a morning of focused work. The space is generously sized with plenty of tables and plugs, and the specialty coffees are always well-balanced, not too sweet, and plenty caffeinated, which is why I trust their take on a pumpkin spice latte, which is rich in cinnamon and nutmeg but never goes overboard.
Vibrant Coffee and Bakery, Rittenhouse
Vibrant Coffee does a maple-pumpkin-spice latte, but my preferred fall drink from them is a cardamom-brown-sugar latte, which has a slightly bitter sweetness from the brown sugar and a floral scent from the cardamom. Good hot; excellent iced on a warm afternoon.
Càphê Roasters, Kensington
I prefer to think of Càphê Roasters’ specialty coffee drinks as something in between coffee and dessert — partially because, yes, they’re sweet, but also because they have more components and ingredients than a typical coffee. Their bí ngô cà phê sữa or pumpkin-spiced Vietnamese coffee is no exception. It’s a base of Vietnamese espresso and condensed milk, shake with pumpkin purée and topped with pumpkin cold foam.
Cafe Walnut, Washington Square West
Cafe Walnut’s taro milk-based chai is a welcome variation on the classic Indian tea drink. Housemade taro milk gives the drink a pleasantly starchy, lightly sweet flavor that balances against the masala chai spices.
Persimmon Coffee, Fishtown
For most of the year, persimmon is just a name, but in the fall Persimmon’s beloved Foolish Tiger brings actual persimmon to the menu. A housemade persimmon-and-ginger syrup is combined with black walnut bitters, a little maple syrup, cinnamon and oat milk for a sweet, toasty beverage that is worth a special trip.
Gilda is using apple butter as a sweetener for their apple-butter-pecan latte that hits menus this week. Bitter espresso with a scoop of apple butter in hot steamed milk is the coffee equivalent of spiked apple cider.
Rally, Queen Village
Another shoulder season option is Rally’s London Calling, which marries the autumnal flavor of a cup of tea with the refreshing cool of an iced tea. Like an upgraded London Fog, the drink is a shot of espresso of over iced, topped with Earl Grey cold foam and garnished with a slice of orange. Good for those sunny fall days.
Herman’s Coffee, Pennsport
Herman’s specialty drinks are reliably excellent, which is why if I’m having a straight pumpkin latte, I’m doing it here. They make a syrup from fresh pumpkin and add all the classic pie spices for a true pumpkin-pie latte that hits on the craving without tasting like a cliche.
Jiggy Coffee, Washington Square West
People love to forget that citrus is in season in the winter. Not me. It’s all I think about, which is why Jiggy’s winter-orange cappuccino is a drink I crave from November (when the drink hits menus) all the way to the tail end of spring. The bitter notes from the orange and coffee play well together, but the whole drink is surprisingly bright and fruity.