10 local coffeeshops to check out in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is home to a growing lineup of independent coffeeshops. No longer are Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts your only options when it comes to enjoying one of life’s greatest simple pleasures (a great cup of coffee) outside of the house. Visiting a coffee shop on the weekend is a great budget friendly activity to enjoy anytime of the year.
With various options spread throughout Pittsburgh’s diverse neighborhoods, there is an option for you, no matter your personal style or where your day’s adventures may take you. Below are 10 great local coffeeshops, each offering a different scene, style, and located within close proximity to some of Pittsburgh’s best attractions.
1. La Prima Espresso
- Locations: Strip District
- What to try: Americano
- What to do nearby: Pick up a sweet treat at Colangelo’s Bakery
La Prima serves high quality Italian espresso and coffee. They offer over 20 varieties of locally roasted beans, including blends, single origin, seasonal and decaf options for purchase. La Prima operates several cafes throughout the city. The best location is found within The Strip District. This cafe features outdoor seating and is located nearby many local restaurants, bakeries, and ethnic grocers. Although they serve no food, you can order a delicious pastry next door at Colangelo’s Bakery. Treat yourself to an authentic Italian cannoli, a chocolate croissant, Danish, or Sfogliatella. Pricey, but worth a splurge. Unfortunately, many smokers gather here. If smoking bothers you, visit the AC Hotels location (near the Heinz History center).
2. Commonplace Coffee
- Location: Mexican War Streets
- What to try: Coffee cake, Americano
- What to do nearby: Take a walk and enjoy the lovely architecture. Also in the vicinity is Randyland, a colorful outdoor art exhibit open free to the public.
What started as a single cafe in the small community of Indiana has now blossomed into 8 shops including 4 in the Pittsburgh region. Commonplace serves specialty coffee plus local pastries. Although the food selection is limited, everything is quite good especially the coffee cake. Plus, the presentation is quite fancy compared to other options in the region. Do visit the charming Mexican War Streets cafe in one of Pittsburgh’s oldest neighborhoods. The attractive setting amongst old Victorian row houses is quite nice. Bonus – the quaint outdoor patio is perfect for sipping and relaxing during the milder spring and fall season.
Note – the interior can get way too sunny during the summer months (I had to wear sunglasses inside) due to the large windows. Visit on an overcast day for the most comfortable experience.
- Location: Sewickley
- What to try: House coffee, blueberry muffin, chocolate croissant, artisan bread, shashuka
- What to do in the vicinity: Check out the local shops of downtown Sewickley. This charming tree-line Main St. is lined with independent businesses.
This wonderful Mediterranean cafe offers 2 convenient locations: historic downtown Sewickely and Mt. Lebanon. Here you can enjoy fresh artisan bread, specialty pastries, great coffee, and delicious healthy breakfast and lunch entrees all in the same place. They serve the best coffee and offer the nicest ambiance anywhere in the metro. Their bread is amazing – do try the Ref Fife or sprouted spelt. Entrees to try include Milk Bread French Toast, Shashuka, Avocado Toast, and Quiche. The pastry selection is amazing. Everting from the fresh blueberry muffins, to the chocolate croissants, to homemade pop tarts and cinnamon rolls are worthy of the caloric splurge!
Bonus – you receive points for each visit. After 10 points, you will receive a free loaf of bread, a coffee, or pastry! Fantastic deal!
4. Cafetano Coffee Roasters
- Location: Strip District
- What to try: Acai bowl, house coffee
- What to do nearby: Take a bike ride along the Three Rivers Heritage trail
This eclectic cafe features the most interesting ambiance of any Pittsburgh coffee shop. The decor is colorful and eccentric. In addition to serving gourmet coffee, they also offer a number of pastries, in addition to Italian and Honduran based specials. The coffee is delicious and available via several brewing methods. These include: Chemex, Aeropress, French Press, V60, Siphon, and Kalita. Smoothies and a number of Frappe drinks (try the Brownie or Cookies and Cream) will cool you down on a hot, humid summer day. As for the food menu, you will croissant sandwiches, panini, specialty toasts, waffles, and assorted pastries. Although overpriced, the acai bowl is a refreshing summertime cool down treat.
- Location: Strip District
- What to try: Matcha tea cake, Americano
- What to do nearby: Shop for authentic Italian goods at Pennsylvania Marconi Company.
Defer is a wonderful local coffeehouse with 4 Pittsburgh locations including Market Square downtown and the Strip District. The vibe is trendy and hipster and the ambiance beautiful and inviting. The Strip District location features beautiful brick walls for the ultimate historic touch in an old neighborhood. What sets this cafe apart from others is the wonderful assortment of healthy menu items. Options include Chia seed pudding, raspberry lemon poppy seed oatmeal, sweet potato and chickpea hand pie, and toast with avocado/hummus or cashew butter.
If you have a sweet tooth, you will want to treat yourself to the delicious Matcha tea cake topped with orange lime buttercream and pistachios. Packed with powerful green tea antioxidants so at least it’s a little bit healthier.
6. Redstart Roasters
- Location: East Liberty
- What to try: House Coffee
- What to do nearby: Visit The National Aviary
This artisan small batch roaster is quite unique in that they have received the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center’s Bird-Friendly coffee certification. They source coffee beans from sustainable farms which preserve bird habitats. One of their partners in sustainability is top rated Pittsburgh attraction, The National Aviary. If you are a bird lover, you might want to put this one on your bucket list. As for the coffee, it is delicious. Numerous roasts are available, light or medium with different tasting profiles. The ambiance here is beautiful and spacious with an airy, clean, and well-maintained appeal. With lots of chargers, lamps, and a large table, it’s also a great place to read or work.
7. Big Dog Coffee
- Location: Southside Flats
- What to try: Everything bagel with cream cheese, house coffee
- What to do nearby: Shop and dine at Southside Works
This spacious, quiet coffee shop is a great place to work, meet up with friends, or just relax on a leisurely weekend morning. Unlike more cramped and rowdy coffeeshops, the ambiance is inviting and tranquil. Plenty of places to enjoy a seat all to yourself by a cozy fireplace, as well as a shady patio for the milder months. The decor and artwork are colorful and eclectic giving you something to look at while you sip your coffee. They serve premier Intelligista coffee and offer a variety of pastries. Also, there’s smoothies and juiced drinks for anyone avoiding caffeine. It’s also one of the few coffeshops to offer bagels, so definitely a plus!
Note: the coffee is served a bit too lukewarm (I like mine really hot!).
- Location: South side
- What to try: Veggie Quiche
- What to do nearby: Check out Station Square, an entertainment complex home to several popular chains (Hard Rock, Melting Pot), the Gateway Clipper cruise, and the Duquesne Incline.
Delanie’s is one of the best local coffeeshop options especially for those seeking a cozy setting away from the university and tourist areas. The attractive 2 floor layout really sets it apart from other local coffeehouses. The brick walls and eclectic art make the interior here quite appealing. The vibe is definitely cozy, inviting, and local. The coffee here is excellent, as are the pastries which come from a variety of local businesses. The highlight to try here is the delicious veggie quiche – a bit pricey, but worth the splurge.
- Location: McCandless Crossing
- What to try: Americano, blueberry muffin
- What to do nearby: See a movie at Cinemark North Hills or take a stroll around Ross Hill, the largest mall in Pittsburgh
Although the McCandless location is found within a suburban strip mall, this local coffee shop is so much better than a typical Starbucks. The coffee is always great and there are 2 options to pick from. Baristas are always friendly and the vibe is welcoming and relaxing. Not many food choices although the muffins are decent enough. Best of all, this coffeeshop is located in McCandless Crossing, a huge strip mall loaded with popular shops, restaurants, and a theater. A great stop prior to a shopping excursion.
10. Cafe Conmigo
- Location: Wexford
- What to try: Americano
- What to do nearby: U-pick at Soergels Ochards, Enjoy delicious soup at Zuppa’s Deli
This newer addition to Pittsburgh’s coffee scene is quite unique. If you love plants and greenery, then you will definitely want to place a visit to Cafe Conmigo high on your coffee shop bucket list. This place is decorated with all sorts of beautiful plants. Really, it’s a place to sit and relax or meet up with friends over a great cup of coffee in the most tranquil and zen setting in the metro. Lots of cozy seats where you can kick back and enjoy a great cup of joe (beans come from local roaster Commonplace). As a bonus, they serve treats from local bakery Mediterrea (and also offer a number of GF and vegan treats) and have a ton of plants available for sale. Bonus – leashed dogs are welcome!
A few more to try
These coffeehouses are just alright. I wouldn’t necessarily put them on the top of your list or go out of your way to visit, however, they are an okay choice if you happen to be in the vicinity.
Redhawk (Sharpsburg) – While I am personally not a fan of the blah atmosphere and strange layout (Sharpsburg location), the coffee here is quite good. The fact that they are located in a historic building is pretty cool, but the atmosphere felt a bit bleak and depressing. On a positive note, the staff was very nice and the coffee was nicely presented.
Orbis – Cute local coffee shop and cafe in downtown Mt. Lebanon. The space is attractive and very clean. Nice selection of pastries and breakfast food (including delicious veggie quiche). Pricing is a bit too high for the area and the drip coffee is much too sweet for my taste.
Yinz (N. Ave) – Popular local coffee chain with 8 convenient locations. Coffee is great and the sports decor is a nice bonus at the North side location. The food options could be better and drip coffee is unfortunately only served in paper cups.
Coffee Tree Roasters – Locally owned coffeeshop with numerous Pittsburgh area locations. Serves single farm sourced coffee from around the world. Coffee and presentation is great as are the seasonal specials. Food is sub par and wrapped in plastic. The Shadyside location is particularly spacious and attractive.
Do not recommend: Crazy Mocha, Adda, Anchor and Anvil, Espresso a Mano, Rock N’ Joe, Friendship Perk and Brew