ThirdPlace WorkSpace Thursdays: Ultimo Coffee Bar

Ultimo was ranked best coffee shop in America (take that, Seattle and New York) - though I think that's the 15th and Mifflin original, not the Graduate Hospital edition I'm reviewing here, but who's really keeping score? - so it's no wonder that I'm a fan.  But now that I've been here a few times, I'm realizing the subtle things that also make Ultimo a great place to get some work done, in addition to having a great cup of coffee.

It's a small space (probably 15 feet deep and 45 feet wide), so it stays intimate, which is always good.  table-wise, they've picked a table and stuck with it the whole way - square and comfortable for one person with a laptop or two people without computers.  Being on the corner, the shop has a lot of outdoor exposure to work with, which they've maximized by having glass sliding doors across the whole thing (which I've not acdtually seen open, but they make for great natural light).  Outdoor seating also exists on the other side of those doors, which is nice.  The look inside is simple and natural - a fair amount of wood paneling and elegantly hung single light bulbs.  Tunes playing over the speakers are always pretty good - anything from Carla Thomas and Eddie Floyd to The Clash and The Smiths.

Food and beverage wise, you really can't go wrong.  The coffee is flavorful, wonderfully prepared, and never bitter, and the milk comes straight from Lancaster, they way it should always be.  Bagels, croissants, etc are good, and they carry sandwiches pre-packaged by Federal Street's own American Sardine Bar.

Philadelphia seems to have a bunch of good cafes with a few locations.  I'm definitely going to have to check out the original Ultimo now.  Stay tuned.
22nd & Catherine Streets, Graduate Hospital

Table Space – two-seaters, ideal for laptop or a two-person meeting
Wi-Fi – strong and readily accessible
Natural Light – abundant, by way of a wall of full height windows
Atmosphere – cool and relaxed
Bicycle Parking – two racks and a couple street signs
Coffee – $2.45

Third places in a city or town are those that are neither home, work, nor shopping… they are the informal places in between, the public living rooms where we gather or go to be alone in a crowd… and there’s good argument that a culture of solid third places (Parisian café culture is so good as to become cliché) is a driver and indicator of community vitality. They can also be great workspaces for those of us not wanting to work from home, not yet being ready to pay for “real” commercial space, looking to get out of the office, or have a more informal meeting.  There’s etiquette (called buying things and not being a slob with your belongings) to working in a café, but doing so can be good for you and the proprietor alike.  In this blog, I’ll take you on a reviewed tour of some of Philadelphia’s ThirdPlace WorkSpace (trademark pending) opportunities.  I hope you join me.