Tucked away on Frankford Avenue in a quiet neighborhood, Cloud Cups explodes with the smells of fresh gelato, shades of yellow and green, and vague notions of giddiness.
You could recognize it from miles away: the bright blue paint and the vintage shop sign, children hustling in and out while laughing and crying. And the smell! Even before the doors are open, the aroma of freshly–produced gelato is instantly recognizable. It’s milky and rich, so much so that it feels as if the smell condenses into clouds of sweetness floating inside the shop.
Cloud Cups was founded by Galen Thomas, a then–college student who has always thought that being a history teacher was the way for him—that is, until he learned about gelato. What went down afterwards was a tale of triumph and success. First appearing in 2018, Cloud Cups soon gained popularity for its gelato’s quality and creativity, which includes almost anything from lemon sorbet, Turkish coffee, brown sugar Pop–Tart, to the shop’s number one sensation—banana pudding.
But success didn't come overnight. Thomas originally sold his gelato online, then proceeded to mobile carts at events and festivals before finally settling down at his first ever home—the brick–and–mortar shop in Philadelphia’s Fishtown, which just had its grand opening earlier this year. By then, Cloud Cups had been recognized as one of 41 best gelatos in the country, drawing in crowds upon crowds of customers eager to visit their first ever shop.
Sure enough, Thomas does not let his customers down.
At the shop, I myself try three different flavors: lemon sorbet, apple pie, and the traditional yet dependable chocolate fudge. Despite missing out on the shop’s signature banana pudding flavor that day, the choices that we have blow our expectations away. The gelato base is rich and creamy—the “chewy” kind of creamy that creates a beautifully triangular top every time we take a spoonful. Its flavor is perfectly sweetened, not at all bland but also not too overwhelming that the sugar gets stuck in your throat. But what is most impressive are the individual flavors.
Chocolate fudge is aged but mighty: the rich flavor of cocoa perfectly balanced by a touch of bitterness. Apple pie tastes of caramelized apple and cinnamon, perfect for Pinterest fall girl aesthetic. And lemon sorbet! Lemon sorbet is the most surprising flavor. Even if you’re not a fan of sorbet, there is something different about Cloud Cups'. The signature lemony taste is there, but it's also complimented by a touch of ginger with a rich, milky texture. If you want something that is perfectly balanced between sweet and sour but has a delightful, elevated twist, then lemon sorbet is definitely the go–to choice.
If you find yourself all stressed out by the midterm season’s endless exams, definitely pay Cloud Cups a visit for some much needed sweet treats. This old–school shop filled with '90s posters and punk–rock music will surely surprise you with its delightful creations.
TL;DR: Cloud Cups delivers expertly crafted gelato in a variety of classic and creative flavors at its new Fishtown storefront.
Location: 2311 Frankford Ave.
Hours: Thursday 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Friday 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Closed from Monday to Wednesday