There's nothing better than a glass of apple cider on a brisk fall day. Whether you prefer your cider hot or cold, that sweet yet tangy apple taste effortlessly washes away all your midterm qualms as the leaves begin to change. As a lifelong apple cider aficionado, I knew I couldn’t survive the fall without finding a go–to place for my favorite seasonal drink. So, naturally, I set out to find some of the best apple cider in Philadelphia based on taste, price and accessibility for Penn students.
While my quest ended successfully, I did hit some bumps in the road. As it turns out, apple cider is not as abundant in Philadelphia as I had assumed. The first stop on my journey was WilCaf, where the barista informed me that they had just run out of apple cider and wouldn’t restock until the next week. However, I did manage to try five different apple ciders around Philly, successfully locating the best option for cider–loving Penn students like myself.
Houston Market Cafe
A small apple cider at Houston Market costs $2.59, so the relatively low price combined with the location is appealing to students—that is, before you take a sip. I decided to order mine with cinnamon to spice things up a little. Unfortunately, the cinnamon didn’t stand a chance against the sour and almost bitter taste of the apple, which came through in even the smallest of sips.
Even though it was the cheapest and closest of the options I tried, Houston Market Cafe loses major points in the taste category. As the sourest of all the drinks I sampled, I don’t think I’ll be ordering apple cider from there again any time soon.
Linvilla is an apple orchard about 30 minutes from Penn’s campus. Although its main activities are geared towards children, its delicious farm market and beer garden attract an older audience as well. As I was searching for my favorite drink, I was pleasantly surprised to see other apple cider–inspired flavors and foods: apple cider vinaigrette, apple cider vinegar, and apple cider donuts—just to name a few.
The apple cider from Linvilla is the only drink I tried that was cold instead of hot. A half gallon of the drink costs only $4.99, and it tasted wonderfully fresh with just the right flavoring of apple, even after a few days in my mini–fridge. However, its location poses major inconveniences for Penn students, which diminishes its overall rating.
At United By Blue, a small apple cider costs $3.24, and once again I ordered the drink with a hint of cinnamon mixed in. The cinnamon and apple flavors complemented each other nicely, and the drink didn’t taste overly sweet or sour. In fact, it didn’t have a very strong taste at all, and some sips tasted more watery than apple–y. The beverage redeemed itself with its perfect heat level, which didn’t burn my tongue but kept me warm. Its reasonable price and accessible location also compensated for its lack of taste.
Saxbys had the best apple cider of the places I tried. Upon arriving, I was immediately intrigued by the caramel flavor and ordered it for $4.27. Despite the inflated price, the drink’s flavor made up for it on the first sip. The caramel mixed beautifully with the apple cider, and I felt surprised that I had gone this long without ever trying the drink with this combination. It was sweet, but not too sweet, and I finished the drink in a matter of minutes. Saxbys' caramel apple cider is perfect for any coffee chat or study date and restored my faith in Philadelphia's apple cider. I can say that I will definitely frequent Saxbys as the temperature continues to drop this fall.
Old City Coffee is located in Reading Terminal Market, about a 30–minute walk from campus. While the walk is easily doable right now, the weather will surely make it much less enjoyable in a few weeks. A small apple cider is $3.20, and while I don’t have many complaints, the drink wasn’t anything special. It took a while to cool down, and tasted like any mundane apple cider: not too sweet, not too sour, just a little boring. Sure, I’d have it again, but I wouldn’t trek all the way to Reading Terminal just for a visit to Old City Coffee.