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#1 Zekes Coffee -East Liberty
6015 Penn Ave
Zeke’s was my first coffee stop in the Burgh, mainly due to it’s super close location to my work. The barista’s here are a friendly, knowledgeable, eclectic bunch that are happy to steer you in the right coffee-making-decision. Zekes get’s high praise for it’s small batch blends that they roast just down the street and for their Amazing array of snacks and pastries. (I recommend the meat pies and snickerdoodle cookie…or the shortbread…okay anything with sugar).
I typically will grab a cold brew here which is really nice, but their caramel latte is also a solid choice.
If you like high quality coffee and made-from-scratch pastries at a reasonable price in a no frills store, this is a great coffee stop for you.
It has a picnic table and some other small outdoor seating, as well as a few indoor seats as well with easy access outlets. You can buy one of their many blends to take home with you, or even one of the empty burlap coffee sacks to decorate your home in true coffee-addict fashion.
They also serve a nice variety of loose leaf teas.
Parking is tricky with only a few parallel spots on Penn Ave, but there are small lots scattered nearby.
Zekes is open Mon-Sat 7am-7pm and Sunday from 8-6pm.
If you’re not that familiar with East Liberty, it’s just down the street from Target, Bakery Square, and Shadyside’s Millies, Casbah, etc.
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La Prima Espresso Co.- Strip District
205 21st St.
La Prima is about as classic as it gets. If you’re missing the old-world magnificence of Italian crafted espressos than go no further. Located in the heart of the Strip District, La Prima is a favorite in town, with many other coffee shops sourcing either their coffee or their espresso machines from them. It’s also attached to a pastry and pizza shop which has passable cannoli’s and mind blowing slices…so that’s always a bonus.
If you’re into flavored coffees and frosty blended concoctions then this may not be the right spot for your caffeine fix. La Prima’s menu is succinct. Coffee, shot of espresso, cappuccino, and a few others round out the menu. Fresh squeezed orange juice is available for those that haven’t the fortitude for a quality shot of liquid gold.
La Prima also is a constant presence in the community, partnering with programs to promote the instruction and use of Italian as well as promoting sustainability and green coffee sourcing.
The best aspects of La Prima, apart from their amazing espresso, would be their small selection of tables out front. On a busy day in the Strip, there’s nothing better than snagging one of these prized spots to sip and people watch in the sun. Inside has only a few standing tables only. No outlets here so make sure your devices are fully charged up before you visit, or put down the phone and join in on one of the card or domino games run by it’s faithful Italian-American customers.
Parking can be a challenge during the strip’s busy hours (lunch and the weekends) but if you time it right you’ll have no issue grabbing a cup on your way to work or around town.
La Prima is open:
Monday- Wednesday: 6-4,
and Sunday from 7-4.
If you’re not sure where exactly it is on the strip it’s down the street from the catholic Church on Smallman street, across from the Wes Banco bank.
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Adda Coffee & Tea House (Shadyside)
200 South Highland Ave.
Adda got their name from the Bengali word that means to “indulge in informal or friendly conversation with a group of people such as friends, family, or colleagues.”
With it’s simply beautiful and bright interior and quiet ambience it is certainly a place good for long talks over a hot cup of whatever floats your boat. Adda is relatively new on the scene but it’s flavors and styling are bold.
I typically get their cold brew but I had a great affogato (they get their ice cream from neighboring Millie’s) that was pretty bomb.com. If you haven’t tried that it’s just espresso that you pour over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Hard to go wrong there.
The “cold brew” has a distinct flavor that hits you hard in the tastebuds, and the beautiful mad-scientist-esque machine is behind this process. Technically, it’s “brewing” technique makes it cold-drip rather than cold brew coffee, but most establishments that do cold-drip label it as cold brew in order to remove confusion. Adda also carries a small selection of eats, mainly fun toast toppings and shortbread. They also sell expensive chocolates and some coffee brewing devices.
Adda is a mission-minded establishment with two charities or organizations always in rotation to receive donations at their counter. They also hold community events to highlight certain cultural elements from Africa or the community.
The staff is friendly and helpful and the coffee is strong. Seating always tends to be limited but that could be because it’s the new kid on the block, or it’s Shadyside location, or the fact that you can actually reserve tables for business meetings at Adda.
Some downsides are definitely parking. That small section of Highland is known for it’s abysmal parking situation, and you can park at the nearby parking garage that services Chipotle, T-Mobile etc at your own risk as there is a guard that will yell at you. I also found the prices to be fairly high. Especially when for half the price I can get a piece of shortbread 4x bigger around the corner at Zekes. Because they do so much for charities this should be taken into account. I also wish they used local roasters but maybe that will be in the works one day.
Adda is open”
If you’re unfamiliar with the Shadyside/East Liberty area, Adda is located on the same strip as Noodlehead, Millies, Mad Mex, The Casbah, and right up from the restaurant Plum (on Center Ave).