Saturday, March 10, 2012

...Short stops: 21st Street Coffee and Coffee Buddha

I used to hate coffee.

It was only when I inherited my grandmother's Keurig that the need for me to drink caffeine to function well in the mornings became imperative.  Before then, every once in awhile, I had a coffee-drink - usually in cold form, or with a lot of cream, flavorings, and sugar.

I eventually started becoming more adventurous and tried coffee in its purest state.  A former boyfriend took me to 21st Street Coffee in the Strip District, two storefronts away from Pamela's and caddy-corner to Chicken Latino, a few times.  There, I was given "the look" for putting sweetener in my coffee.  Apparently, they are purists, and I was not used to coffee without additional ingredients.

However, on future visits, now with James, I came to appreciate coffee in its purest form.  An acquired taste, yes, but now I have no problem visiting 21st Street Coffee and ordering a drip, or macchiato, or espresso, without cringing at the acidity minus sweetener.

Artwork in Espresso
 My favorites, of course, come from Spanish-speaking countries - Guatemala, El Salvador, and Bolivia, especially.

Awesome sign holder!
Chair uphostered in coffee sack
After our disappointing trip to Azul a few weeks ago, James, his friend Andy, and I stopped at Coffee Buddha in the North Hills, as we had heard good things from our friend Food Collage, who is a regular there.

I can see why she's a regular - the decor is awesome, the people are super-friendly - and they play "Twin Peaks" on a TV above a fish tank.  Who could resist?

Twin Peaks, fish tank, cozy corner
 Since we were there late, I didn't want to get too hopped-up on caffeine, for fear that I wouldn't sleep that night (after all, I need my beauty rest, and I had to teach the next day - can't be a zombie for the kids).

Drink menu, Coffee Buddha
 What was drawn to my eye?  "Mexi Cocoa", or Mexican hot chocolate.  Perfect!

 It was spicier than your average hot chocolate (as "regular" hot chocolate really isn't spicy), but like hot chocolate that you would get in Mexico, chili powder gave it some bite.  It was delicious, and a perfect complement to my "Twin Peaks" experience.

Starbucks has nothing on small, single-location coffee shops - the intimate settings and passion for good coffee make the experience personal and relaxing.

I wish we had more of these near me - preferably one to which I could walk...

21st Street Coffee and Tea on Urbanspoon21st Street Coffee and Tea
50 21st Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222


Coffee Buddha on UrbanspoonCoffee Buddha
964 Perry Highway
Pittsburgh, PA 15237


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