Staff Picks: Coffee Craziness


One barista shows off her latte art outside Crazy Mocha Sewickley. (Photo courtesy of Alexa Manko)

By The Pitt News Staff

For some, getting caffeinated is the most important part of mornings in college. But others prefer using the local coffee shops for an afternoon date, a study session or a meet-up with old friends. Whether you are a hard-core coffee addict and need all of the espresso shots you can get or just want a cup of hot chocolate to get you through Pittsburgh’s cold winter nights, Oakland and the surrounding neighborhoods have got you covered.

Biddle’s Escape // Kim Rooney, Copy Chief

If you’re looking for a chance to get out of Oakland, Biddle’s Escape offers a colorful, comfortable spot near Regent Square. Tucked away among houses whose yards are full of flowers and art, the coffee shop offers the standard coffee- and espresso-based drinks, a wide variety of teas and snacks such as homemade hummus, bagels, and breakfast and lunch sandwiches.

Inside, masks and strings of beads line the walls downstairs, where long wooden tables provide room for larger groups to meet. Upstairs, a room with a view of the neighborhood offers a quieter place to enjoy a drink at one of the small tables. You’ll find locals and students alike at Biddle’s, and while many go with friends to catch up over tea, plenty come with just laptops and notebooks.

While you’re there, make sure to cast a vote in the tip jars, where you can help decide some of today’s most pressing issues — chicken or egg, pterodactyl or velociraptor? Once you’ve made your purchase, the welcoming atmosphere and delicious drinks — I recommend the mango passionfruit white tea — make it easy to stay there for hours.

Tazza D’Oro // Victoria Pfefferle-Gillot, For The Pitt News

Italian for “cup of gold,” this local hidden gem at 1125 North Highland Avenue in Highland Park — just over 20 minutes from Oakland via the Port Authority 71B — opened in 1999. Tazza D’oro serves exclusive, rotational coffees, as well as fresh, local foods and freshly baked pastries and desserts.

If you’re not much of a coffee person, order one of the shop’s countless loose-leaf teas. The aesthetic inside the cafe is charming and rustic, and it’s a great place to hang out on a weekend or go to meet with a friend. There’s both indoor and outdoor seating, so in the breaks from Pittsburgh’s annual freezing winters, you can enjoy the atmosphere of Highland Park.

Crazy Mocha // Sarah Connor, Culture Editor

As a native of the Pittsburgh suburbs, I was introduced to Crazy Mocha — a local, goat-themed coffee shop chain — in high school when my best friend started working at the Sewickley location. Since then, I have been a regular visitor to whichever Crazy Mocha is closest to me.

The shop I currently frequent is on Oakland Avenue, just across from Fuel & Fuddle and Stack’d. This location features plenty of seating, some with outlets if you want to stick around and do some homework. In the warmer months, they have outdoor seating that makes the Oakland Crazy Mocha a great destination to relax and drink a mango smoothie or iced coffee in the sun.

My favorite drinks include their raspberry chai tea lattes, and of course, anything mocha — but white chocolate mocha is my absolute favorite.

Dunkin’ Donuts // Shahum Ajmal, Layout Editor

“America Runs on Dunkin” is quite literally a slogan that guides me through life, and when I came to Pitt, it helped guide me through these urban streets. Dunkin’ is known for serving its customers bold flavors with low prices — my usual medium iced coffee costs me less than $3 and is a simple way to start my morning.

The On-the-Go ordering feature is especially convenient at Pitt’s Dunkin’ located at 3907 Forbes Ave, open from 5-12 a.m., Monday through Friday. The app also stays up to date by providing rewards and special offers that are redeemable at this location.

And don’t forget  — Dunkin’ beverages are just easier to order. Amidst a busy life, I cannot be bothered trying to solve Starbucks codes for cup sizes and dealing with baristas getting my name wrong every time.

If you need a loyal coffee shop on campus that is easy on the budget, look no further than Dunkin’ on Forbes.

Starbucks // Janine Faust, Opinions Editor

I’m a person who likes the familiar and Starbucks is always around no matter where I go. Some may sneer at a corporate coffee chain being my store of choice instead of a cozy family-owned joint, but there’s no denying the reasons why Starbucks is a popular hangout. Each individual Starbucks varies in decor and layout, and all give off the same comfortable vibe of an independent cafe.

My favorite one near campus is the Starbucks on Forbes and Atwood, which has a fireplace for the winter and couches in the back of the room. Whether I’m hanging out there with my laptop and textbooks or sitting by the window to watch people strolling past, it’s always a peaceful time.

My kitchen // Hannah Schneider, Sports Editor

Listen, I get the hype around the triple-venti-mocha-chocha-almond-soy-whatever concoctions. It’s a witch’s brew of liquified candy and most of U.S. society is addicted to sugar.

But let’s be real for a second. I’m a broke college student barely making $10 per hour at each of my three jobs. I have to splurge on rent, not coffee. Unfortunately, my life isn’t “Lady Marmalade” by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Pink and Mya — so when I’m tired from studying or working, I don’t want any “mocha chocalata ya ya.” I want the water of life — cheap black coffee.

Sure, my combo of $3.50 bulk coffee grounds from Aldi and my $20 two-serving Mr. Coffee brewer cooks up bean water with a vague whisper of chemicals. But when I’m exhausted and need something to help peel my eyes open, it gets the job done.