All Abuzz – Hit The Ground(s) Running with This Trio of Java Drinks
Coffee is a universal language. Around the world, the beloved beverage is brewed, sipped, and savored for its flavors, stimulating effects, and encompassing cultures. Though Europeans are the largest coffee consumers, more than 80 percent of Americans drink two cups a day on average. From invigorating espresso to a hot, frothy latte, our preparations of choice vary. (I would be remiss not to tell you I’m drinking a bold cup with a splash of almond milk right now.) Simultaneous with the sunrise, we start our day with a mug full, indulging in another at our desks, and again later, as the perfect pairing to leisure. As coffee creators raise their games with nitrogen-infused and cold brew varietals, we see our Instagram feeds brimming with “but first, coffee” graphics, latte art, and coffee-centric hashtags, which entrepreneur.com says have been shared over 10 million times! Here, we get social with three local coffee trends to keep you buzzing for days.
Switching things up for the season, Stan Prestogeorge of Prestogeorge Coffee & Tea is fulfilling our wishes of comfort and all things cozy with the shop’s brown sugar cinnamon espresso con panna. The delicate concoction is created with a double shot of espresso, brown sugar, cinnamon, a generous dollop of whipped cream with a sweet cocoa powder dusting, and a cinnamon-sugar rim. “This drink is a great way to introduce our customers to the wonderful world of espresso,” Stan says. “The sweet ingredients temper with the espresso, so you get to experience something a little bit more delicate and mild.” Prestogeorge’s presence spans 60 years, so its owners and staff have seen trends come and go. “Right now, pumpkin is huge, as well as our apple crumble [blend]. Salted caramel everything is a hot seller, too. A budding trend we’re seeing is spice — hot, spicy drinks, like Mexican chocolate. The dark roast phenomenon has been unbelievable also. Customers love our dark roasts — some of our best sellers include South American, Mediterranean, and Cuban, which is outstanding.” Prestogeorge sources the majority of its beans from sustainable farms, and the others via brokers on the East Coast port in New York and on the Southern port in New Orleans. “We’ve been working with some of the same brokers for 30 to 40 years,” he says. “They know what we’re looking for, and they find the beans that are appropriate.” Staying inspired, Stan puts much thought into what his patrons are passionately sipping. “Our customers are fantastic,” he says. “They’ll tell us about things they’ve tried or want to try. Our staff is wonderful, too. We’ve got a staff that’s just outstanding for new ideas.”
Prestogeorge Coffee & Tea, 1719 Penn Ave., Strip District. 412.471.0133.
Life Is Brew-tiful
For more than 60 years, Fortunes Gourmet Coffee has been providing its loyal wholesale customers with a consistently smooth selection of coffee. Owner Fred Smallhoover has a serious dedication to what’s put into each bag before it’s sold. He studies customer favorites, and sources from micro-lot farms to ensure quality and the availability of single-origin coffees that aren’t offered at your average supermarket. Here, he displays his Campfire blend, a smooth, dark roast he discovered while spending a relaxing evening with friends in front of a crackling fire. To brew, he often uses a French press or a Chemex brewer, but says your choice method is all based on personal preference. “The more you experiment with coffee, the more you get out of it,” he says. “Coffee is a blend between science and art. It’s accurate and consistent, but important that you put your own personal finesse into every cup.” While Central and South American coffees might be best brewed in a French press, you may choose a Sumatran for a Chemex, which is a simple, slow-drip vessel that uses a thick filter for a light, clean extraction with almost no sediment. Not to mention, its sleek design looks stunning on your countertop. (Fun fact: A handblown work of art, the Chemex is on display, and for sale, at the Museum of Modern Art!) As one of life’s great goals, finding balance is most desirable when unearthing your favorite brew. “Kenyans can bring a lot of the acidity to the cup,” Smallhoover says. “You may choose to counter balance it with a deeper body or sweetness that’s in a Costa Rican.” Not only is Smallhoover devoted to his customers and the restaurants Fortunes supplies, he’s also dedicated to giving to those less fortunate. Fortunes will soon introduce a special Costa Rican blend to benefit the Feed My Sheep Association, a nonprofit that provides food for 360 Costa Rican children a day.
Fortunes Gourmet Coffee, 11 Tunnel Way, McKees Rocks. 412.771.7767.
No Filter Necessary
New to Mt. Lebanon Shops is Blue Canary CoffeeHouse, the manifestation of lifelong dreamers Rena and Steve Antosz. For eight years, Rena hoped to own a coffee shop before the couple opened their original location in Ambridge. Named from the song “Birdhouse In Your Soul” by They Might Be Giants, Blue Canary CoffeeHouse is one of the first in the region to serve nitro coffee on tap. Now trending, the effervescent, ice-cold coffee is treated with nitrogen under high pressure, chilled in a keg, and served on draught with a foamy head à la Guinness. “We’re big beer fans,” Rena says. “We use cold-brewed coffee as the base, which is much smoother than hot coffee because it never touches the hot water. You get those nice nutty and chocolate undertones.” As Rena describes the unique libation, we watch its creamy, ombré goodness settle like a beer. “We like to say that nitro [coffee] tastes like coffee smells.” The key is using a super dark bean, as the coffee has to be strong enough to stand up to the process, she says. Often inspired by travel, Rena stays true to her roots by supporting local suppliers. The shop sources from Nicholas Coffee in Market Square, partners with Mt. Lebanon’s Betsy’s Ice Cream and Hitchhiker Brewing Company to offer milkshakes and root beer floats, and connects with Cafe Chocolade in Oakdale for its gluten-free goodies. You’ll find house-made syrups, loose-leaf teas, and fresh smoothies on the menu, too!
Blue Canary CoffeeHouse, 300 Mt. Lebanon Blvd., Mt. Lebanon. 412.344.7100.