The Coffee Scene, Pittsburgh Edition

The Coffee Scene, Pittsburgh Edition

In the wake of the Starbucks’ public makeover, and with the SCAA show rapidly approaching, there’s a bevy of coffee-centric ink (‘lectronic and otherwise) flowing at the moment. Lots of publications are taking a look at their local coffee scene, trying to figure out who the players are — and discovering that the coffee shop just ain’t what it used to be. (Hoorah.) Here’s a take on the Pittsburgh coffee scene (featuring the fine folks at Aldo Coffee, among others.) “Our goal,” offers Rich Westerfield, genial co-owner with wife Melanie Westerfield, of Aldo Coffee on Mt. Lebanon’s Washington Road, “is to raise the level of conversation and appreciation of what coffee can be.” You go, Rich! Locally, upper-end coffee shops “have become a central place,” Westerfield says, for many the magical Third Place – after home and work. Priming the French press, Aldo, for example, brings in ska bands and steel drums. One church actually meets there monthly. “Coffee houses bring people together,” he says. “They’re oases of community in a city.” Ska, steel drums and church groups....

Wanted: Adventurous Travelers for Coffee Kids Costa Rica Trip

Ever thought about what it *really* takes to get coffee from seed to cup? What life is like in a coffee-growing community? There’s really only one way to learn… make a trip to origin! Coffee Kids — by any measure, a terrific non-profit group that does great work in coffee growing lands — is hosting a trip to coffee communities in Costa Rica in November… Coffee Kids and JavaVentures will host a fun and informative tour in the coffee lands of Costa Rica, Nov. 6-11. This five-day tour will focus on coffee communities and a student scholarship project supported by The Rural Children’s Education Foundation (FHC) and sponsored by Coffee Kids. Deadline for registration is Saturday, Sept. 15. On this trip participants will have the opportunity to learn how coffee and grassroots community development serve as critical elements to providing families and communities a higher quality of life and hope for the future. The cost of the trip is $1,295… the benefits — priceless. For a complete trip itinerary and more information, visit www.javaventures.com or www.coffeekids.org or call 415-595-2924. I have to warn you… a trip like this will forever alter how you look at your cup… and how you look at the...

The Way *I* See It…

When Michelle Incanno ordered her venti-house-blend-nonfat-two-Splenda at her Springboro Starbucks last week she got more than she bargained for… and more than she could stomach. Printed on the cup was this — “Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.” The quote isn’t Starbucks’ own, but instead another customer’s… part of Starbucks’ “The Way I See It” collection of viewpoints and conversation-starters than have graced their cups for some two years now. Regardless, it didn’t play well in Springboro… at least not with Incanno. She’s vowed never to darken Starbucks’ door again. “As someone who loves God, I was so offended by that. I don’t think there needs to be religious dialogue on it. I just want coffee.” This doesn’t appear to be a case of someone not understanding that the message on the cup isn’t the opinion of Starbucks itself. She understands. She just doesn’t care. Which is a shame, of course, but also much more. Let’s move beyond this specific message itself for a moment and examine the underlying principle at play here. The way *I* see it, these United States are now largely populated by folks so tightly bound-up in their own ideology and narrow philosophy that they bristle at, vilify and reject any point of view that differs demonstrably from their own. Heaven forbid they...

A Perfect Storm?

It’s snowing. Not the faint flurries that speak softly of the downly blankets to come… no, not these. These are big, gloppy, frozen clumps of fluffy, white stuff — crazed, drifting vollies — resolute in their intent to bring on that white winter; to make it begin. This is not, the weather-casters assure, a repeat of the scary Hallowe’en Nor’easter that raged in 1991… (spawning a great book, and a mediochre movie) but a mere superstorm (if that). Still and all, those tumbling flakes outside my window have a tale to tell… and they’re mad with enthusiasm to tell...

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