Inside Boku, Philadelphia’s Art Gallery & Coffee Bar Inside An Apartment

By 1-900-ICE-CREAM, Boku, Cafes, Fairmount, Gaggia, Mahlkonig EK43, North America, Onyx Coffee Lab, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Ryan Fitzgerald, slayer, Staff Picks, USA, Yours Truly Coffee

boku philadelphia pennsylvania

On a misty Saturday morning, you walk up to a rowhouse in Philly’s sleepy residential neighborhood of Fairmount. The buzzers are labeled with scraps of paper, the handwritten names of tenants. You buzz the first floor. The label is printed in thick, purple script: Boku.

Boku has been many things: a culinary experiment, a platform for local line cooks, and an intimate supper club serving never-repeated, reservation-only meals. Most recently though, Boku took on an ABC concept: “Art, Breakfast, Coffee.” Guests admire a gallery of work by local artists, then enjoy a simple, perfected breakfast sandwich and unique coffee service.

boku philadelphia pennsylvania

Ryan Fitzgerald, owner and founder, may be the only consistent piece of the ever-evolving business. Fitzgerald—who doesn’t have any formal kitchen training—started it as a way to explore the culinary arts. “I was making all this food and didn’t really have anybody to eat it, so I threw these dinner parties for my friends.”

Cooking for friends slowly became cooking for strangers. Then Fitzgerald began to host guest chefs, using his vacation days to hold the supper club in his apartment. When he ran out of vacation days in 2016, he quit his day job to run Boku full-time.

Fitzgerald jokes about the decision to turn Boku into an art gallery. “In the beginning, I was selling food out of an apartment and charging people for it. That’s illegal.” Now, visitors pay for admission to the gallery and food is complimentary.

boku philadelphia pennsylvania

Barista Frank Monzo and Boku founder Ryan Fitzgerald

This kind of agile maneuvering explains why Boku’s original logo was an octopus. “Octopi can get in and out of anything. They can adapt themselves to any situation.”

Fabrizio Verga of Yours Truly Coffee in NYC first introduced Fitzgerald to the wider world of coffee. “He’s like a brother to me and 100% responsible for my interest in coffee.” Fitzgerald started out with a hacked Gaggia from the 80s, replumbing the water tank himself and hooking the machine to a PID (proportional-integral-derivative) controller to get consistent water temperatures. This kind of mad scientist behavior isn’t new for him. “I wish my parents were here to talk about it. I destroyed a lot of electronics.”

When he started to get more serious about the coffee component of Boku, he turned a coat closet into a (home) coffee bar to inspire jealousy. Floral wallpaper and a pink neon sign that reads “SLAY ALL DAY” are the backdrop to the crown jewels: a single-group Slayer and a Mahlkönig EK43.

He also brought on local barista Frank Monzo, who loves the setup. “It’s a playground.”

boku philadelphia pennsylvania

The equipment is key to their precise, unique coffee service. “[The Slayer] allows me to make what I’m serving more expressive,” says Monzo. “It allows me to tailor the machine to the coffee as opposed to vice versa.” Likewise, they use Mahlkönig’s EK instead of the PEAK because they’re tailoring every shot, every cup of coffee, rather than trying to perform at volume. They’ve chosen to carry Onyx Coffee Lab for their service.

And perhaps more importantly, it’s a very intimate service. “First and foremost, it’s my apartment,” says Fitzgerald. Three-quarters of people don’t know that, but when they get here I tell them, and that’s very disarming.”

They don’t have to worry about being crowd-pleasers, and their guests are much more willing to go along with their experiments than they might be in their usual coffee shop. “My favorite part of it is how different it is from working in a cafe setting,” says Monzo. Eating breakfast this close to their barista seems to break down some of the scripts they have about caffeine acquisition.

“There’s been so much more engagement in this setting about specialty from people who aren’t specialty-aligned,” says Monzo. “Every week we have a person say, ‘I didn’t know coffee could taste this way.’”

The format gives them the space to be patient and welcoming, and this allows them to provide a high-level coffee service while avoiding making people feel overwhelmed or unwelcome.

boku philadelphia pennsylvania

A few months ago, Fitzgerald started experimenting with wildly eclectic ice cream for his dinner service, including “God Mode” pints inspired by a locally-roasted coffee. Fitzgerald cold steeps whole coffee beans in the ice cream base, then adds ingredients to recreate the individual coffee’s flavor notes.  “Let the Q graders go wild. They want to call it mid-season Meyer lemon? Let me go find some mid-season Meyer lemons.”

Now Boku is evolving once again. The ice cream was such a success that Fitzgerald has spun it into its own business: 1-900-ICE-CREAM. With orders selling out as fast as he can make them, he has stopped dinner and breakfast service. It’s the end of one chapter of Fitzgerald’s culinary journey and the beginning of a new one.

Derek Beyer is a freelance journalist based in Philadelphia. This is Derek Beyer’s first feature for Sprudge.

Photos courtesy of Ryan Fitzgerald.

The post Inside Boku, Philadelphia’s Art Gallery & Coffee Bar Inside An Apartment appeared first on Sprudge.

Source: Coffee News

The Sprudge Coffee Guide To Washington, DC

By A Baked Joint, Brandywine Coffee Roasters, Cafes, chemex, city guide, coava coffee roasters, Colony Club, counter culture, dc, district of columbia, Featured, Fox Loves Taco, Guides, Heart Coffee Roasters, Kalita Wave, Kintsugi Cafe, madcap coffee, Passenger Coffee, peregrine espresso, red rooster coffee, Sey Coffee, slayer, Slipstream, Small Planes Coffee, the coffee bar, The Wydown Coffee Bar, Tryst, washington, Washington DC

Washington, DC is a complicated city, the capital of a complicated country. But despite what lore may tell you—it’s not all politicians, diplomats, and monuments here. Indeed, it’s a thriving city with no shortage of diverse food, and more recently, coffee options. Whatever your pleasure, DC’s coffee scene has grown into a landscape where anyone of any leaning can find the right drink in the right place. Here are some of the options.

washington dc coffee guide


A comfortably hip coffee and cocktail bar, Slipsteam is the perfect place to grab a light meal, a pick-me-up, or a nightcap. Dimly lit and sleek in design, the busy pace of this cafe is betrayed by its intimate feeling. The folks at Slipstream aim to make specialty coffee accessible to everyone. The coffee menu is clear and concise, divided into four distinct categories: Comfort, Bright, Fruit, and Floral. Madcap Coffee provides the house beans and additional guest roasters appear on the shelves frequently. Expect the clientele to be hunched over laptops during the first half of the day and having lively conversations in the evenings.

Slipstream has multiple locations throughout Washington, DC. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


washington dc coffee guide

Colony Club

Capitalizing on cool, the Colony Club is an inviting coffee and cocktail bar with room to stretch out. The space itself is long and thin but boasts a second floor as well as ample outdoor seating. Most of the tables are communal which allows a more social experience than many modern coffeehouses. Sey Coffee fuels the batch brew and Heart Coffee Roasters the espresso. Pour-overs are available via Kalita Wave, or get a Chemex to share. If you’re a ping pong enthusiast, you’ll be happy to find a table upstairs for your enjoyment. Vibrant, energetic, and youthful, those lucky enough to live near the Colony Club have a stellar way to start and end their day.

Colony Club is located at 3118 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.


washington dc coffee guide

Fox Loves Taco

Earning points for having the best combination of things ever, Fox Loves Taco is a cafe with solid coffee and delectable tacos on the menu (featured here as part of Sprudge’s Build-Outs of Summer). Located by the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, this cafe offers its own divine experience.

washington dc coffee guide

The coffee program features Coava Coffee Roasters and Brandywine Coffee Roasters. The space is bright and cozy, and as makes perfect sense for an espresso bar/taqueria—is also shared with a bike shop. Sipping on an espresso while enjoying a smoked tofu taco will make you feel as warm and fuzzy as the shop’s namesake.

Fox Loves Taco is located at 716 Monroe St NE in Washington, DC. Check out their official website and find them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


washington dc coffee guide

Peregrine Espresso

Considered by many to be the area standard, Peregrine Espresso carries the torch of Washington, DC coffee culture in a steady hand. The company was born from a cafe love story and since 2008 the married owners have grown the business to three cafes and a sister roasting company, Small Planes Coffee, whose coffee is served in many of the surrounding coffeehouses. If you need a good cup of coffee and Peregrine Espresso is nearby, know that you are in good hands at any Peregrine location.

Peregrine Espresso has multiple locations around Washington, DC. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


washington dc coffee guide

The Coffee Bar

As the coffee industry grows and changes, many are trying to shed the image of the surly barista. It sounds like a small thing, but bad customer service can make even the best of coffees taste sour, which is why The Coffee Bar’s friendly staff struck me. They greeted patrons with a smile and were engaged throughout each interaction. Their Shaw area cafe is eclectic and bright, full of reclaimed artifacts and whimsical decorations. A multi-roaster cafe that features up to four roasters at a time, those who frequent The Coffee Bar are unlikely to get bored.

The Coffee Bar has multiple locations around Washington, DC. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


washington dc coffee guide

A Baked Joint

High-energy A Baked Joint is a serious bakery with a serious coffee program. A spinoff of popular DC cupcake-and-coffee spot Baked & Wired, A Baked Joint is an experience all its own. The focus on food (there’s a full bread menu, along with breakfast, lunch, and pizza) is well met by a slate of quality coffee drinks, which includes a selection of boozy buzzes as well. The space is big, with tables and standing counters near the front and a comfy lounge area toward the back. It’s hard to pigeonhole the vibe of A Baked Joint, but you’ll find this place bouncing at all hours.

A Baked Joint is located at 440 K St NW, Washington, DC. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


washington dc coffee guide

Kintsugi Cafe

If you’re looking for a beautiful experience for both your eyes and your palate, this hotel cafe should be your next stop. Named after the art of repairing broken pottery with gold-infused lacquer, Kintsugi pays homage to creation through destruction. The design is sleek, with accents of black, gold, and polished wood—echoed in the Slayer espresso machine on the counter. Coffee is provided by Red Rooster Coffee of nearby Virginia. Treating yourself to an espresso here will make you feel both elegant and hip.

Kintsugi Cafe is located at 1201 K St NW 1st Floor, Washington, DC. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.


washington dc coffee guide


Known as DC’s living room, this 20-year-old institution has seen many a dissertation written, cured numerous hangovers, and been a home away from home to countless people. This huge, packed cafe is loaded with comfy couches and easy chairs, numerous laptops, animated conversations, and Counter Culture Coffee. Coffeehouses like this awaken long-forgotten desires to be a member of the Friends crew at Central Perk—but in DC, and real life. Equal parts cafe, restaurant, and bar, Tryst has all your needs covered.

Tryst is located at 2459 18th St NW, Washington, DC. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.


washington dc coffee guide

The Wydown Coffee Bar

Beautifully designed, hospitality-driven, and perpetually bustling, The Wydown Coffee Bar on 14th Street seems to be everyone’s pet favorite coffee shop. From the line out to the sidewalk, you might assume that a small coffee counter hides behind its doors, but inside you’ll find multiple baristas manning pour-over stations, dual espresso machines, and an appetizing spread of pastries. This multi-roaster cafe features Passenger Coffee Roasters and is quick and efficient. If you are lucky enough to find a seat, the people-watching is superb.

The Wydown Coffee Bar has multiple locations around Washington, DC. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Eric Tessier is a freelance journalist based in Providence, RI. Read more Eric Tessier on Sprudge.

The post The Sprudge Coffee Guide To Washington, DC appeared first on Sprudge.

Source: Coffee News