For many of us, coffee is just a step in the daily routine. We put about as much thought into it as packing a backpack or taking a morning shower. For others, however, there is a whole lot more to consider than whether the brew is strong and the pot is hot. There are hundreds of tiny decisions that go into that cup and countless people that affect it along the way. At her new Lawrenceville café, Sarah Walsh is determined to bring all of them to the front and center of everything she does.
Walsh is the owner of Caffè d’Amore. Her coffee stand has been a fixture at the Pittsburgh Public Market since 2012, and she’s offered her espresso bar catering services for years. Long interested in a more permanent location, Walsh opened her shop in Upper Lawrenceville—which she jokingly calls “the last frontier of Pittsburgh”—on September 1st. The café serves a range of espresso drinks (including unconventional options like an ancho mocha latte), house-made shrub sodas, and sandwiches and sweets from local producers.
“There’s a real part of me that feels like we finally found our home,” says Walsh. She’s found the neighborhood to be incredibly receptive to her closely held beliefs about sustainability and local sourcing. In an effort to move away from single-use items, for instance, Walsh offers every customer the option to get their drink in a Mason jar for a dollar more. Each time they bring that jar (or any reusable container) back for a refill, they get a quarter off their purchase.
For Walsh, sustainability goes beyond reducing waste and turning off the lights at night. “We like to buy as much as possible from people and faces we know,” she told me, then proved it by looking around the shop and rattling off the names behind nearly every piece of it. From the folks that provide the Pasture Maid Creamery milk to the team at Legume that makes the caramel sauce to the three (three!) local artists that make the reusable coffee sleeves, Walsh makes it clear that relationships and interaction are critical to her business. And as luck would have it, the new location came with a large, L-shaped bar, which she says “invites people to sit and pause and engage.”
Though coffee in Pittsburgh has come a long way since Walsh first got into the business, she sees plenty of room for it to grow and improve. “Coffee is an ancient act of hospitality,” says Walsh. “It’s been around for 2,000 years . . . it should change.” During next month’s Pittsburgh Specialty Coffee Week, Walsh and other coffee professionals will get a chance to show off what they’re up to and discuss what’s next.
A visit to Caffè d’Amore is more than just a chance to recaffeinate. It’s an opportunity to engage in the local economy, meet interesting people, learn the ins and outs of bean sourcing—oh, and drink a dang fine cappuccino.
In other news…
This Saturday, Hop Farm Brewing is hosting their 2nd Annual Hoptoberfest. The event will feature 26 unique food and beer pairings and live music from three bands. All proceeds will benefit the Children’s Foundation of Pittsburgh.
This Sunday is Braddock Feast, a progressive dinner throughout key points in the Braddock community presented by Grow Pittsburgh. The event will feature food, music, art and more.
After four years in business, Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina will be serving their last dinner this Saturday. The owners will be announcing a new concept later this fall.