Saturday Series: The Rialta Coffee Tour, Part 12

The Ultimate Coffee Road Trip Across the United States.

This week:  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Editor’s note:  We began publishing reports from Don Niemyer about the cafes he visited on his cross-country coffee tour back in the summer of 2013, and we’ve loved following his journey, learning about amazing coffeehouses out there in the United States, ever since. We’ll be publishing reports from Don about his recent journey around the Central and Northern states every Saturday this fall. To catch up on Don’s earlier posts about his explorations of coffee culture throughout the Western United States, click  HERE. Following are links to Don’s posts from this current Saturday Series:

Part 1: Oregon to Amarillo, Texas
Part 2: Oklahoma to South Dakota
Part 3: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Part 4: Wisconsin to Michigan
Part 5: Chicago, Illinois
Part 6: Indiana to Washington, D.C.
Part 7: Virginia to Florida
Special Edition: The Big Central Coffee Competitions in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Part 8: Maryland to Pennsylvania
Part 9: Delaware to Rhode Island
Part 10: Massachusetts to Maine
Part 11: Vermont

We hope you continue to enjoy Don’s reports as much as we do!

By Don Niemyer
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

And now, for your morbid reminder of the week: You’re dying.

We’re all doing it ”dying, that is. Maybe sooner, maybe later. But none of us escape it, and as such, it’s very important to have a bucket list. You know, stuff to get done before you kick the bucket. I’ve got a few on my list that are still waiting. I’d like to take up ostrich riding, float the Amazon river on my back, and like most people, I hope to get around to jumping from an airplane at 30,000 feet. But thanks to the Rialta Coffee Tour, one thing on my bucket list has been checked off!:Seeing the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh!

After visiting all the great cafés in Pittsburgh we parked the Rialta right outside Heinz Field and camped out until the next day, when we checked off a major bucket list item by seeing the Steelers play in Pittsburgh.
After visiting all the great cafés in Pittsburgh, we parked the Rialta right outside Heinz Field and camped out until the next day, when we checked off a major bucket list item by seeing the Steelers play in Pittsburgh.

So as we headed into Pittsburgh with coffee and football on our minds, we already knew of the Steel City’s reputation for having great football. That piece of the experience was really great, and you can read all about it here [http://www.donniemyer.com/were-doing-this/2014/11/5/steelers-ravens ] if you want. What we didn’t know was how the coffee scene would shake out. Turns out, we had nothing to fear. Pittsburgh has more Super Bowl trophies than any other NFL team (6), and they hold their own in the coffee scene, as well. If you’re not familiar, allow me to introduce you to just a few of the all-stars on team Pittsburgh!

Commonplace isn't the only roaster in Pittsburgh, but we're pretty sure they're among the best. Well, technically we didn't visit any other roasters exactly, so that's not an especially scientific evaluation. But we're gettin' off in the weeds here. Let's move on!
Commonplace isn’t the only roaster in Pittsburgh, but we’re pretty sure they’re among the best. Well, technically we didn’t visit any other roasters exactly, so that’s not an especially scientific evaluation. But we’re gettin’ off in the weeds here. Let’s move on!
As you know by now, we're always looking for something a little out of the ordinary, so here's one for you: Commonplace owner TJ Fairchild is nuts for Clovers! A long-time appreciator of their capabilities, he has put in the extra work to continue using them after the company's acquisition by Starbucks back in the day, including warehousing extra parts and learning how to work on them.
As you know by now, we’re always looking for something a little out of the ordinary, so here’s one for you: Commonplace owner TJ Fairchild is nuts for Clovers! A long-time appreciator of their capabilities, he has put in the extra work to continue using them after the company’s acquisition by Starbucks back in the day, including warehousing extra parts and learning how to work on them.
With several locations now in Indiana (PA), and Pittsburgh, Commonplace has established a strong presence in the area, giving the PBS (that's the Pittsburgh Coffee Scene) a great option for carefully sourced, locally roasted coffee.
With several locations now in Indiana (PA), and Pittsburgh, Commonplace has established a strong presence in the area, giving the PBS (that’s the Pittsburgh Coffee Scene) a great option for carefully sourced, locally roasted coffee.
One of the great local operations serving Commonplace (among others) is Caffé d'Amore.  In addition to a catering operation, they have this full time presence at Marty's Market down on Smallman street.
One of the great local operations serving Commonplace (among others) is Caffé d’Amore. In addition to a catering operation, they have this full time presence at Marty’s Market down on Smallman street.
We liked Caffe d'Amore for lots of reasons, but let me just mention some of the things we noticed that make them unique: Little dinosaurs under glass domes, a pretty aggressive canning-jar-for-cold-brew program, and an unparalleled passion for pour over brewing using the now defunct gold cone filter. Party in a box!
We liked Caffe d’Amore for lots of reasons, but let me just mention some of the things we noticed that make them unique: Little dinosaurs under glass domes, a pretty aggressive canning-jar-for-cold-brew program, and an unparalleled passion for pour over brewing using the now defunct gold cone filter. Party in a box!
Meanwhile, over at Espresso a Mano, we found another multi-roaster operation featuring good times and great coffees. Owner Matt Gebis and his team of expert baristas were on hand to treat us right.
Meanwhile, over at Espresso a Mano, we found another multi-roaster operation featuring good times and great coffees. Owner Matt Gebis and his team of expert baristas were on hand to treat us right.
Matt apparently has a thing for grinders. We got Mahlkönig. We got Simonelli. We got Mazzer. We got Compak. But no matter how you grind it, they'll brew it up right at Espresso a Mano.
Matt apparently has a thing for grinders. We got Mahlkönig. We got Simonelli. We got Mazzer. We got Compak. But no matter how you grind it, they’ll brew it up right at Espresso a Mano.
Over on the south side, Big Dog is serving Intelligentsia Coffee in a big way, right on the other side of this big sign.
Over on the south side, Big Dog is serving Intelligentsia Coffee in a big way, right on the other side of this big sign.
Owners Nikolay and Cortney Ivanov are classical musicians (violin and bassoon) with a great story and huge hearts. We got a dose of both from Nik on our visit, but had to take a rain check on getting a personal concert. Maybe next time!
Owners Nikolay and Cortney Ivanov are classical musicians (violin and bassoon) with a great story and huge hearts. We got a dose of both from Nik on our visit, but had to take a rain check on getting a personal concert. Maybe next time!
After trying a number of great roasters, former Tazzo D'Oro barista Amy Weiland decided to go with Ceremony Coffee Roasters out of Annapolis, MD when she opened up Constellation about a year ago.
After trying a number of great roasters, former Tazzo D’Oro barista Amy Weiland decided to go with Ceremony Coffee Roasters out of Annapolis, MD when she opened up Constellation about a year ago.
That's Amy there behind the bar. Working in a minimalist setting with a Linea and other basic  “ yet excellent  “ equipment, she produced our favorite cappuccino of our time in Pittsburgh. And with all the great cafés in this town, that's saying something! Great chops, Amy!
That’s Amy there behind the bar. Working in a minimalist setting with a Linea and other basic “ yet excellent “ equipment, she produced our favorite cappuccino of our time in Pittsburgh. And with all the great cafés in this town, that’s saying something! Great chops, Amy!
Down in the Strip District (apparently so named because it sits on a long, narrow strip of property) we found one of Pittsburgh's most beautiful coffee spaces: 21st Street Coffee.
Down in the Strip District (apparently so named because it sits on a long, narrow strip of property) we found one of Pittsburgh’s most beautiful coffee spaces: 21st Street Coffee.
Of course, in addition to having nothing to do with the type of strip that you know you were thinking before I clarified, it is also not remotely located on 21st street. So there's that. But here's what they CAN offer: Intelligentsia coffee, expertly prepared, on fantastic equipment in a gorgeous setting. Yep, that'll do.
Of course, in addition to having nothing to do with the type of strip that you know you were thinking before I clarified, it is also not remotely located on 21st street. So there’s that. But here’s what they CAN offer: Intelligentsia coffee, expertly prepared, on fantastic equipment in a gorgeous setting. Yep, that’ll do.
We almost got out of town without a visit to Tazzo D'Oro, but got a hot tip and had to follow it up, so off we went. Good thing, too,  ˜cause it turns out that Tazzo D'Oro is one of the  ˜burgh's finest gems. They feature Counter Culture Coffees and brew  ˜em up like a boss. A great sendoff for us as we headed out of town!
We almost got out of town without a visit to Tazzo D’Oro, but got a hot tip and had to follow it up, so off we went. Good thing, too, ˜cause it turns out that Tazzo D’Oro is one of the ˜burgh’s finest gems. They feature Counter Culture Coffees and brew ˜em up like a boss. A great sendoff for us as we headed out of town!  

As we pointed the Rialta out of town and headed for the hills, our hearts were full of satisfaction from the Steelers victory, and our bellies were full of great Pittsburgh coffee. We spent about a week exploring the Steel City, and felt that there was still plenty left to get to, but there were other destinations awaiting so we had to move on. Next week we’re heading to Tennessee, hitting a few shops along the way, and we’ll have that report for you right here next Saturday, so be sure to check back! Until then, follow us at our social media sites, or at DonNiemyer.com. See you soon!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

donandcarissa

Don Niemyer  used to own three coffee shops in Portland, Ore., where he and his wife Carissa spent 8 years immersed in the excellent coffee culture there, milking it like a dairy cow for every drop of expertise it would give them, making lots of friends, doing some USBC judging, and learning all they could. One day, they decided to move their kids closer to family, so they bought a tiny RV, moved into it, and have been œmoving to Colorado  ever since, visiting coffee shops, practicing minimalism, and having lots of fun. That was over two years ago. One of these days, they might even end up living in Colorado.

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