Rival Bros' Touts Locally Sourced Sweets

'Local food makes a ton of sense'

For Damien Pileggi and Jonathan Adams, owners of Rival Bros coffee roasters, choosing to source locally was a no-brainer.

“Local food makes a ton of sense,” Adams says. “Really, it’s just eating the way our great grandfather’s ate: you eat what is around you.”

Adams and Pileggi took that notion to heart when they opened their small-batch, custom coffee roaster in Philadelphia’s Fitler Square neighborhood at 2400 Lombard St. in May. The flagship coffee bar sources its milk, cream and butter from Trickling Spring Creamery from Central Pennsylvania and baked goods from High Street On Market. (Be sure to try the fresh sliced bread, rhubarb bunt cakes, red-eyed Danishes, ramp scones and fresh cannoli.)

In addition to opting for regional goods, Adams and Pileggi focus a lot on flavor. “When we choose a food purveyor, we consider their point of origin, their techniques and the costs. However, the biggest sell for us is the flavor,” Pileggi says. “Flavor always wins.”

The coffee selection is from around the world, offering unique blends from places like Papua New Guinea, Honduras and Kenya. “Our blends took a long time to develop and required coffee from all growing regions. We like to keep our single-origin program changing, and showcase some dynamic, unique coffees,” says Pileggi. 

The selection also includes American based beans sourced from the West and East coast. The process of choosing where to get their beans from is mindful and selective, often considering environmental and socially conscious certifications. “Most of our coffees carry certifications of varying sorts. We believe in being responsible and sourcing appropriately,” Adams says.

Friends since high school, both Adams and Pielggio haves similarities and differences that really allowed them to make a unique brand for Rival Bros. They’re not afraid to call each other out and critique one another.

“The name Rival Bros. is a tongue-in-cheek reference to our friendship. We couldn’t be anymore different, yet similar at the same time. Years of hanging out and working together has prepped us for going into business together,” Adams says.

Both worked in the hospitality industry for years, Pileggi as a coffee roaster at La Colombe and Adams as a Chef at Pub & Kitchen. Their life-long friendship and work in the hospitality industry allowed them to combine their skills to make Rival Bros authentic.

“We made a decision before we even launched that we needed to be a brand and not just two dudes making coffee. We wanted to feel like Philly, be in Philly, stay in Philly but have design elements that could carry us further should opportunities arise,” says Pileggi. 

Rival Bros was originally a food truck serving coffee throughout Philadelphia but a permanent home was always part of the plan. Having both lived and worked in the neighborhood in the 2000s, Adams and Pileggi decided the Fitler Square location was an easy choice and had familiar territory.

“We originally launched as a truck because we liked the idea of doing something different and being mobile. As we've grown in the past two years, the need for a permanent home became apparent.”

“It was always our plan to open a brick-and-mortar coffee bar and we couldn’t be more excited to open our first in a great neighborhood like Fitler Square,” says Adams, a former chef who launched Rival Bros in the fall of 2011 with Pileggi. “We hope to make this a comfortable atmosphere for our guests to enjoy a great cup of coffee any time of day,” Pileggi adds.

Story by Francine Pondolph, photos courtesy Rival Bros