New Girl on the Blog Visits Espresso a Mano

latte art heart in our new double espresso cup
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Note from Lindsay: Please welcome Amanda – she is a new blogger here at IheartPGH and she has been very patient while we upgraded the blog.  So now that we are upgraded and settled in at our new host – time for some new posts!  I am so happy she will be writing for us and this post is about a great coffee shop in Pittsburgh that I don’t think we have blogged about yet! Please welcome her to IheartPGH!


Today, I almost went to see the art exhibit Ordinary Madness, currently showing at the Carnegie Art Museum, which I was excited about. The operative word here is almost. I put my scarf on; I was wearing my coat and my comfortable tennis shoes for museum walking, but I couldn’t make it. I have a number of school related commitments to attend to, and it’s starting to eat away at me in a way that I can’t deal with anymore. But—I loathe the idea of wasting an entire beautifully sunny Sunday working in my apartment. So, I ventured to my absolute favorite coffee shop, Espresso a Mano. (1)

Now, I could gush about the espresso here, and the French Pressed coffee, and the lovely heart shaped swirls Matt can make on your latte foam. But honestly, you can go to Espresso a Mano’s own website and read about much of that—and you should, my dear. I think it will be more informative for me to talk about what I love about this place, because it goes so far beyond the coffee.

If you continue to read my blogs, you will discover that I adore making lists. Thus, the way I can best usher in my love of this place is, appropriately, in list format:

  1. Matt, the owner, is terrific. He is affable, funny, and earnest; he cares about getting to know the people who patronize his establishment on a regular basis. When I am in line, I notice that he greets 80% of the customers by name—including me. According to a conversation I accidentally had with his cousins upon my first visit to this place, he also speaks Italian and plays the piano. Clearly, those are above average hobbies.
  2. Everything about this place makes me think that spending 5 hours doing schoolwork on a Sunday is reasonable. The exposed brick walls, the well planned location of tables in relation to outlets, track lighting, Ella Fitzgerald playing in the background, the rotating collection of local art peppering the walls…everything about this place is the cream cheese frosting to my red velvet cupcakes.
  3. True story: I spent the summer in Chicago, and I love love loved it there. But—one of the things that I sincerely missed about Pittsburgh was Lawrenceville, and this place in particular. Truthfully, the entire attitude of this coffeehouse was the reason I moved to Lawrenceville. It’s 2010, and there aren’t that many places left where the owner will greet you by name and ask you to help him finish his crossword puzzle on a chilly Saturday morning (I did, and the answer was MS DOS). But this is what you can expect from Lawrenceville, I’ve found. Your desire to support locally owned businesses is made exponentially easier by the fact that the owners are so genuinely eager to meet you.
  4. There is a man sitting next to me wearing a plaid shirt and reading A Thesis on Human Nature. No further explanation is needed.
  5. Revisiting the aforementioned peppering art: currently, the exhibit is Secrets: Nudes from the Muslim world. There also is a charcoal sketch of an old man playing the guitar above the sugar. I am all about the ambiance.
  6. Espresso a Mano features an event called Tip Jar featuring live music and local musicians. This event is BYOB if you are over 21. Just about the only thing that could make this place better would be wine, and in fact, it has that option built right in.
  7. Oh, I saved the best for last: this place also provided the setting for one of my all time favorite awkward conversations. Last spring, I was sitting in this exact seat writing a paper and drinking a bold Ethiopian blend. Because of the aforementioned friendliness of the patrons here—and the fact that many of them seem to like my librarian glasses, I suppose–I ended up talking to a man named Arthur.(2)  He was sitting just to my left, where pensive plaid shirt wearer is sitting now. I inexplicably had the following exchange with him:

Me: “You know, I really like your beard.”(3)

Arthur: “Really? What do you like it about it?”

Me: “Well, the shape. Also, it’s red.” (4)

Arthur: “Thanks. You know, I—“

Me: “You grew it yourself?”

Arthur: “Well, yes. Yes, I did.”

So, even though a piece of my heart is in Chicago on the L platform at State and Lake, my left ventricle will always be in this place. And really, that is the part of your heart that pumps newly oxygenated blood into your aorta on a daily basis; it is the most important part.

Stay tuned for future postings. I WILL make it to Ordinary Madness, and the following post will surely rivet you.

Also, I wasn’t kidding about that website:


(1) I guess this was a fail, though; I’m writing this blog here as we speak, so I mean, I’m not really getting more done than I would be at the museum.

(2) I can’t remember his name, actually, but Arthur will suffice.

(3) For whatever reasons, I have a major yen for redheads. Like a moth to a flame. I also love beards. If there were a dating site called, I would surely be engaged by the spring.

(4) Truthfully, I wasn’t prepared to explain what I liked about it. The color was a definite, but I don’t know what I meant about the shape. I mean, how many shapes can beards come in? Although I wouldn’t have liked it as much if it was a Dumbledore inspired beard, so I guess this was a valid point.

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  • hiya. i liked your article. i make lists too.

  • Artedeco

    Make sure you check out Ordinary Madness…I just saw it and it is very cool and crazy.

  • Maya

    a great post about a great coffee shop! Welcome!