Pittsburgh coffee shops from around the world


Clare Sheedy | Assistant Visual Editor

A man serves himself coffee.

By Anoushka Parnerkar, For The Pitt News

As the weather starts to warm up, people have started planning island getaways and European excursions. But for those of us who will summer in Pittsburgh, a stroll down Penn Avenue for a cup of coffee can be like a ticket to travel around the world.

Within a few miles on Pittsburgh’s Penn Avenue, coffee lovers can take a trip to India, Italy, Colombia and more. For those looking to expand on their palate, these shops each have their special brand of beverage to offer.

Adda Coffee & Tea in Shadyside. (Lucas Zheng | Senior Staff Photographer)
  1. Adda Coffee and Tea House

In the Garfield neighborhood lies Adda Bazaar, an offshoot of Adda Coffee and Tea House. The bazaar, one of Adda’s five locations, serves as a multicultural hub serving artisan goods and coffee. The owner, who hails from Bangladesh, opened up the shop six years ago to share his love for travel and food, according to Adda’s coffee manager Evan Kelly.

Adda, which is a Bengali word for a place to gather with friends, has reached back to its South Asian roots. Most recently, the coffee house featured drinks inspired by the Hindu festival of Holi, which boasts bright colors and celebrations, according to Kelly.

“We featured lavender for a specialty drink, and added it to our full menu for Holi because we would add sweet potato pattern to make it a colorful drink,” Kelly said.

Kelly said it’s because of eager and talented baristas that the shop can make such cool things happen.

“We sought out some advice from two local Pittsburgh foodies to find out what’s happening behind both the boba and Indian flavor combinations and also just making sure that we’re serving them right,” Kelly said.

Ineffable Cà Phê in Lawrenceville. (Lucas Zheng | Senior Staff Photographer)
  1. Ineffable Cà Phê

Further down Penn Avenue, sits Ineffable Cà Phê, a Vietnamese-style coffee shop serving up eccentric lattes, traditional Vietnamese food and drinks in a rustic and comfortable setting. After leaving his corporate job, owner Phat Nguyen said he wanted to do something he genuinely loved — making coffee.

“Vietnamese coffee is something that I genuinely love. I love the taste of it, how strong it is, I love that it’s smooth and creamy,” Ngyuen said. “I would like [customers] to know what Vietnamese culture is like, with some Vietnamese food and some Vietnamese drinks.”

He sought to bring the vibe of coffeehouses he grew up with in Vietnam to the United States and create an inclusive environment for all, including gender-neutral bathrooms, non-coffee options and vegan and gluten-free menu items.

According to Nguyen, Vietnamese coffee shops are more like a place to hang out, a phenomenon not seen in traditional American shops.

“Coffee shops are where you go with snacks and food to hang out and sit and chill for a while. That’s why I want to bring that here,” Ngyuen said.

Colombino coffee & cacao bar in the Strip District. (Lucas Zheng | Senior Staff Photographer)
  1. Colombino Coffee and Cacao Bar

In the center of the Strip District, Colombino Coffee and Cacao Bar, a coffee kiosk outside a grocery store, boasts traditional grab-and-go Colombian fare and a full cacao-to-coffee experience. Owner Sebastian Lloreda said he opened the shop with the intention of highlighting Colombian culture, inspired by his hometown of Cali, Colombia.

Lloreda said he only sources the best coffee straight from Colombia, and roasts it himself in the South Hills.

“I’m always looking for the best farmers all over Colombia, a cup of excellence winners, those who won barista championships and coffee suppliers,” Lloreda said.

Colombian coffee places an emphasis on different brewing methods, according to Lloreda. One of the most distinct menu items is the “Farmer’s Coffee,” a signature blend brewed with spices, and embellished with cream and panela, a raw sugarcane syrup.

While Colombia is known for coffee beans, its cacao is also some of the best in the world. Lloreda said he wanted to break out of the norm of “coffee and tea,” and showcase real, quality cacao.

“Everybody does coffee and tea. And I say chocolate is very big in Columbia too. It’s very rich, and you can’t find good or rich chocolate here,” Lloreda said.

La Prima Espresso Company in the Strip District. (Lucas Zheng | Senior Staff Photographer)
  1. La Prima Espresso Co.

La Prima, an Italian coffee shop on Penn Avenue, has been selling traditional espresso drinks since 1988. Samuel Patti, the shop owner, has family in Calabria, Italy, and studied Italian culture at Pitt and University of Pennsylvania. He said he finds that the store’s espresso is faithful to the Italian standards.

“Well, we’re certainly not ashamed of the espresso and cappuccino,” Patti said. “We make a lot of people say, ‘Oh, this just really reminds me of Italy.’”

While La Prima’s espresso bar concept is familiar in Italy, it was novel to Pittsburgh. La Prima, which translates to “the first” in Italian, was the first espresso bar in Pittsburgh in the post-Starbucks era. Patti said he sought to open up a shop that was unlike anything the City had before.

“In this new age of coffee, we were the first espresso bar,” Patti said. “I’m kind of doing a new version of a coffee bar, so I’ll call it La Prima.”

Cafetano Coffee Roasters in the Strip District. (Lucas Zheng | Senior Staff Photographer)
  1. Cafetano Coffee and Roasters

Cafetano Coffee and Roasters, a Honduran coffee shop on Penn Avenue, is the first and only Honduran coffee shop in the United States, according to Lorella Cuculiza, social media manager and daughter of the company’s founder.

According to Cuculiza, when Carl Allison visited Honduras and stepped foot into Cafetano’s flagship location in Tegucigalpa, he was enthralled and decided to bring the shop to the States.

“Carl visited Honduras and he went into Cafetano, he fell in love and he contacted the owner and founder. He was like, ‘Hey, I want to open here in Pittsburgh.’ it was a one-year process and here they are,” Cuculiza said.

While they source all their beans from Honduras, the Geisha blend hails from the shop’s own farm in Honduras. They then ship the unroasted beans to the shop and roast everything in house with their team of highly acclaimed roasters, according to Cuculiza.

Cuculiza said the ultimate goal was to bring a piece of Honduras to the United States, as everything in the shop is inspired by the region. For example, the logo depicts the Mayan god, Zotz, the god of fertility.

“We bring every single thing, in terms of coffee, and we serve Honduran dishes,” Cuculiza said. Everything, down to their logo, is inspired by their home country. “You’ll see a lot of Zotz, that’s our logo’s name.”