Coffee. We find commonality in the way it tastes, smells and looks. From the careful selection of each coffee bean to the elegance of a unique design in the foam of a latte, we can begin to understand how coffee brings to light the characteristics and qualities that make each of us unique and those that make us different. In all its forms, coffee offers a delightful experience for each of the five senses. As social media footprints grow, having the potential to cause us to lose sight of the things that make us who we are, finding common ground becomes an increasingly important aspect of tangible social interactions. Coffee levels the playing field, dissolving differences and allowing us to find and feel the very common ground we all share. This is a defining characteristic of Pittsburgh Coffee Week, where coffee lovers of all walks of life come together to celebrate the city’s coffee companies and community.
Pittsburgh Coffee Week occurs annually and offers several days of events and education for both novice and professional coffee enthusiasts. It features coffeehouses, roasters, shops and various organizations, whose operations are closely tied to the coffee scene in Pittsburgh. In its sixth year, Pittsburgh Coffee Week was held October from 19 to 26, and the theme was “The Heart Behind the Craft.” This year’s event was a great reminder that coffee is not just about what’s in your mug, it’s about much more. Bringing coffee together with fashion, spirits and even the ecosystem, Pittsburgh Coffee Week highlighted the fact that coffee is clearly about more than taste, smell and look. It even brought professionals and enthusiasts together for friendly yet intense competitions. The competition at Pittsburgh Coffee Week is the kind that elevates the coffee scene and lifts it beyond the fundamental nature of competition, that of winning and losing. From a taster’s competition to a latte art throwdown, the focus was always on delivering positive yet constructive feedback, as well as high-quality products and services to improve the coffee experience from bean to beverage.
At Commonplace, we’re proud to have spearheaded the inaugural event back in 2014. With the help of a growing list of participants, Pittsburgh Coffee Week has established itself as a hallmark of the various coffeehouses, roasters, shops and related organizations. For 2019, our Director of Retail Operations, Robert Chaffin, played a significant role in bringing the event series together. Of the week, he said, “One of our goals for Pittsburgh Coffee Week was to expand the reach to even more adjacent industries. We know coffee has the ability to bring people together, and we certainly saw that this year with so much participation from the spirits world. We’re definitely excited to engage further with other industries.”
Events, education and friendly competition this October included:
Steel City Sip & Sweets – Local coffee shops and bakeries competed at Nova Place for the best sip and best sweet in the city with proceeds benefitting Lending Hearts.
Birds & Beans – Hosted by Redstart Roasters, guests learned about ethical sourcing, bird-friendly coffee, and how we can use our love of coffee to protect crucial ecological areas.
Coffee & Spirits: A Tasting Experience – Hosted by Maggie’s Farm with guests Wigle Whiskey and Commonplace Coffee, the event featured coffee and spirits tastings and a discussion about production methods similarly influencing the products.
Coffee & Cocktails -Hosted by De Fer Coffee & Tea, this event featured live music, free coffee tastings, roasting demos and cocktail specials.
Cafe Ubriaco Batch 15: Release Party & Tasting – Hosted by La Prima Espresso at their newest downtown location, this event featured the release of a natural process coffee, which had been aged in rye whiskey barrels from Liberty Pole Spirits.
Coffee Taster’s Competition – Organized and hosted by Convive Coffee, this exciting event invited both novice and professional coffee enthusiasts to compare and correctly identify coffees.
Feel the Flow Barista Challenge – A first time event hosted by Arriviste Coffee Bar featuring a contest where five teams of two served a large order of drinks as quickly and as perfectly as possible.
Latte Art Throwdown & Closing Party – Hosted by Commonplace Coffee, this was the culminating celebration of an amazing week of coffee centered around the idea of exposing the heart behind the craft. This event also featured the final quarterly Pittsburgh Latte Art Throwdown of 2019.