Despite Starbuck’s attempts to completely monopolize the coffee industry, there are still small coffee shops that exist in metropolitan neighborhoods. One such café is Voluto’s in the East Liberty/Friendship area of Pittsburgh. I had never heard of Voluto’s until a colleague scheduled a meeting there.
Beehive Coffeehouse is one of Pittsburgh’s hippest institutions, or so I’ve been told. Even in high school back in ol’ West-by-God-Virginnie, my friends would come all the way up to ‘the Beehive’ to see shows and hang out. It is a mecca for creative and alternative types. Mama Grizzlies, this place ain’t your scene.
During the weekends I would find myself working a lot, with seldom fun outings with friends or family. You see, I’m one of those people afflicted with an overly-strong work ethic; some call it being a “work-a-holic.” It was suggested by a family member that I take some time for myself; “Grab your newspaper, and find a nice coffee shop to sit and relax for a while,” I was told. My first weekend out, I decided to try Starbucks, on Forbes and Shady in Squirrel Hill. The parking lot was full, so I parked down the street a bit; it was, after all, a nice day for a walk. I approached the counter and asked for a Venti regular coffee. I received my brew, and found a seat near the window. As I took my first sip, I was surprised- this stuff was strong, not like the coffee I had experienced at work, or other small coffee shops around town. I finished my large drink, and was happy to have completed my first session of “mandated” relaxation.
So, Monday night when I walked into The 61c Cafe, I fell in love. Immediately, I felt like I was home. Even though I was on a familiar street in familiar Squirrel Hill, I think that with little effort I could have convinced myself I was in another country far away. And I loved that.
There are many places to have coffee in the city of Pittsburgh; Starbuck’s, Crazy Mocha, 31C Café, etc. There is a small café in the East End worth mentioning that serves coffee, pastries, croissants, and even chicken salad sandwiches. Katerbean, on South Braddock Avenue has been open for 13 years now, and has enjoyed great success.