Third Wave Coffee Shops in Pittsburgh

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My favorite little pick me up is a well-crafted cup of coffee.  I know, the caffeine is literally a stimulant, so that’s why it always makes me perky and productive, but I really appreciate the care that goes into the coffee.  I like that more and more we know where beans come from, the roast date, the flavor profile, the terroir— it is a real craft.  I’m a total sucker for a cappuccino with a little leaf in the foam.  Third wave coffee shops also tend to pay attention to all the details – the thoughtful interior design, the cups, the snacks – everything, not just the coffee, is elevated.  I’m happy to spend $5 and tip 20 percent on the experience and quality.

Since moving to Pittsburgh I have come to love all the options for craft coffee.  We are really spoiled with gorgeous, thoughtful, independent cafés all over the city.  I love venturing across town to try them all.  This is not an exhaustive list, just some of my favorites, in no particular order.

 

Commonplace Coffee House – Squirrel Hill 
This is my neighborhood coffee shop, I love to bop in for an after dinner espresso, tack it on a trip to the library, etc.  Squirrel Hill is far from their only location, Commonplace Coffee Houses are dotted all over the city, and their roast is sold throughout southwest pa.  I love that the serve a little cookie with an espresso, because that is really common in France it feels extra special to me.


Constellation – Bloomfield / Lawrenceville cusp 
I love this minimalist cafe.  The interior features huge windows that let light from Penn Avenue pour in.  The tin ceilings are my favorite detail.  It is a great place to study or read because it feels kind of homey.  The menu is not exhaustive, but everything I’ve ordered has been really excellent.


Espresso a Mano – Lawrenceville 
Great espresso and atmosphere.  I like Espresso a Mano because isn’t trying too hard to have Instagrammable vibe (even though I’ll admin I always fall for that!).  Every time I’ve been here all the tables are full, so I that they have like a counter to just stand at and shoot back an espresso.


4121 Main – Bloomfield 
This place has the most gorgeous feel to it.  Plants everywhere !  Artisan chocolate / goods!  Dreamy music ! (Deerhunter’s Desire Lines was playing when I walked in, It instantly put a smile only face to hear an almost decade-old song that I love).  I wouldn’t expect to find 4121 Main where it is, because frankly it is kind of on a dumpy street.  It mixes parts of old world glamour, shabby-chic, minimalist and wabi sabi.  That doesn’t make it sound cohesive, but it is.


 

The Bureau – East Liberty 
The Bureau is an outpost  of one of my favorite Pittsburgh restaurants, The Vandal.  It is  located within Schoolhouse, one of my favorite stores in Pittsburgh.  I always seem to order cold brew at The Bureau, probably because I got it the first time I went and it was so good I keep ordering it.


 

Arriviste – Shadyside 
Arriviste takes a very technical approach to brewing. Everything is precise, measured, made to order – and thus takes time.  Expect to wait for it.  The cafe has a midcentury-inspired interior, with a friendly / collaborative atmosphere.  I think it is nice that people share tables.

My Favorite Things

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This month I decided to do something a little different – the top 10 things I can’t live without.  While I like to discover new unique items each month, I always come back to my old favorites.  I’ve included some of my favorite clothes, accessories, and personal care items.

I start my day by washing my face with Purity face wash by Philosophy.  I’ve been using this face wash for almost 10 years.  The fresh scent helps me feel awake in the morning and it does take off make up at night.  I’ve never found a face wash that leaves my skin feeling cleaner than Purity.

Turkish towels seem like the opposite of what someone would want out of a towel.  Before converting, I would have thought that plush, pillowy terry cloth made a good towel.  The thin fabric is actually wonderful, because it dries so fast.  I love that my bathroom doesn’t smell mildewy.  These are also great for wrapping up hair because the fabric doesn’t have the weight of a traditional towel.

Another key part to my morning routine?  My Nespresso machine.  Basically anyone who has met me knows how much I love this thing.  It is the easiest way to make an espresso at home, and the quality is great.  Best of all, Nespresso recycles the capsules for free.

I’ve had a Kanken backpack for years, reviewing my first was one of my earliest blog posts!

I could say a lot about all of these items, but for the sake of my time and yours I’ll leave it at the list.

January Shopping List

After a stressful holiday season, I’m focusing on pouring a glass of wine and relaxing this month with some comforting classics.  As I look out the window onto a grey, cloudy, rainy landscape, I would love to be wrapped up in this sweater from Madewell.  I ordered a pair of moccasins to pair with it.  If I could only wear one shoe for the rest of my life, it would probably be moccasins.

My dear friend, Liz, sent me a beautiful candle from her company, Arome Candle.  Look for an unboxing video on my Instagram next weekend.  I love the scent profiles and designs of the candle.

When January arrives, my skin and hair start to dry up.  I’m rehydrating this month with Kiehl’s Ultra Moisturizer Cream and Olaplex hair repair treatment.

I recently started experimenting with pour-over coffee.  I do love my Nespresso and French Press, but I have been curious to try one of these for awhile.  I ordered one made by Bee House, a Japanese ceramic company, but I’ve seen these around everywhere.  My favorite coffee is this blend from Commonplace, a Pittsburgh coffee company.

Commonplace Coffee, Ceramic Coffee Pour Over, Madewell Sweater, Moccasins, Olaplex Hair Treatment, Kiehl’s Moisturizer, Location F Wine, Arome Candle.

Best Advent Calendars of 2018

Over the weekend we ran into Target for a few basics and were shocked to be greeted with an overwhelming amount Christmas. Peppermint everything!  Artificial Trees!  Stocking-stuffer end caps!  Honestly, it was all too much for me.  I’m not, strictly speaking, much of a holidays person.  I think most holiday decor is clutter.  I don’t feel bad about not being ready for the holidays, it’s only the second week in November.  That being said, I’ve noticed an interesting trend online lately:  Advent calendars for literally everything.  Growing up, we never had an advent calendar, so it isn’t a tradition I feel really strongly about.  Typically I think these calendars have chocolate candies inside, but I found calendars for basically everything but.  I do think that it’s a neat way to try out a new brand because you are essentially paying for 25 samples of their products.  Here’s a round up of some of coolest ones I found: 

Food: 

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Bonne Maman 

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Ginvent Calendar 

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Coffee

Beauty: 

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Net-A-Porter 25 Days of Beauty 

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Jo Malone 

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Kiehl’s 

Miscellaneous: 

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Lego 

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Diptyque 

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H&M Jewelry 

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Socks

Bialetti Moka Pot

Recently I purchased an Italian coffee pot and it makes a truly great product.  I love coffee and espresso but not enough to spend thousands of dollars on a legit espresso machine, but my Bialetti Moka Pot works just fine.  From what I’ve heard, the more the pot is used, the better the coffee tastes.  The Internet is full of stories about people pulling these out of their grandma’s attic and using them for years.  They are relatively inexpensive ranging from about $20 upwards depending on retailer and capacity (note that the capacity is measured expresso cups, approximately 2 oz, not 8 0z of liquid).  The coffee is not a true espresso but it is very strong and richer in taste than drip coffee.  I hear the coffee produced makes a great cappuccino or latte but I only like black coffee.  These little pots are pretty intuitive but don’t actually come with instructions.  After scouring YouTube tutorials, articles, and forums, lots of trial and error, and a moderate dose of patience, I think I’ve come up with a good method.

Here’s what to do:

  • Warm up a burner to medium heat
  • Boil water
  • Once water is boiled and the burner is warm, add hot water to the bottom chamber of the moka pot, fill just below the steam valve
  • Place in coffee holder and fill with coffee (I used Illy), then screw on top.  Make sure to hold the bottom with a pot holder (it’s hot)
  • Set the pot directly on the stove until coffee erupts and fills the pot (listen for a gurgling noise), remove from heat when top is full
  • Place hot pot on a trivet
  • Serve coffee with a small cookie and enjoy.

Bialetti Moka Pot Sur La Table (34.95), Illy Coffee Sur La Table (15.95), Plate CB2 (1.95), Espresso Cup and Saucer Crate and Barrel (3.95), Espresso Spoon Crate and Barrel (2.50)