There’s something special about small, independently owned coffee shops. From the smells coming off the La Marzocco machine to the buzz of freshly roasted beans grinding and the blast of steam that froths your milk of choice.
Meet Jonathan Adams and Damien Pileggi, Rival Brothers and lifelong friends since high school, united in their passion for coffee. At the start of their careers, they lived together and worked at the same restaurants. After work, they held late night meetings at a bar on Walnut Street with big dreams, planning their future writing on small cocktail napkins. Jonathan became a five star chef, and Damien, now an alum of La Colombe, discovered his love of all things coffee.
When Damien moved to the West Coast, there were constant bi-coastal phone calls as Damien discovered various interesting coffee blends and started to learn about roasting. Their dream of roasting their own coffee blends was beginning to take shape. Finally the dream became a reality. Rival Brothers started producing blends such as Whistle & Cuss, Palooka, and Revolver, naming their coffees, and their business, to reflect Philadelphia’s authentic and hard working personality. Their start came from a renovated DHL delivery truck tricked out to bring amazing artisanal coffee to the streets of Philadelphia. Rival became a staple on the Philadelphia food truck scene and the Bros. realized they could take the next step of their dream and open a brick & mortar coffee bar located on Lombard Street.
We spent a day following their process from roasting small batches of Whistle & Cuss espresso in their amazing roastery located in an old dye factory, taking a ride in their truck, and seeing them interact with the community in their cafe.
Jonathan and Damien are finally realizing the dreams written a decade ago on those small cocktail napkins.