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North Hills Monthly

Seasonal Flavors Spicing Things Up at Pittsburgh Cafés

Oct 29, 2020 06:26PM ● By Max Mc Crory

American Natural’s pumpkin spice drinks include Pumpkin Spice Frappe, Pumpkin Spice Milkshake and Pumpkin Spice Latte.

One of the best parts of the holidays is finding new seasonal drinks to sip. Many Pittsburgh cafés are whipping out their seasonal flavors like gingerbread and pumpkin spice, so now is the ideal time to check out some new spots around town. It’s a great way to support local Pittsburgh businesses and your caffeine addiction.

Many of these cafes have been drastically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but are hoping the holidays will be the sales boost they need.

“We anticipate the holiday season will be busier because more families will be at home instead of traveling this year,” said Nicole Ambeliotis McLean of Mediterra Café in Sewickley. She adds that they’ll be offering a full catering menu in addition to their large in-house food and beverage menu, as well as small items in their shop that are perfect for gifting.

Mediterra Café has a wide array of hot beverages from which to choose. They have perennial favorites like chai lattes and mochas, but they also have seasonal specialties including mulled apple cider and of course, a pumpkin spice latte. While definitely a fan favorite right now, McLean says that the pumpkin spice latte has some serious competition.

“Another seasonal favorite that customers ask for all year long is the Maple Spice Latte featuring Paul Family Farms maple syrup,” she said.

As the calendar creeps closer to December, Mediterra will also add a ganache hot chocolate, peppermint mocha, and gingerbread latte (complete with a miniature gingerbread house on the side of the mug) to the menu. They make the syrups for the peppermint mocha and gingerbread latte in-house.

Commonplace Coffee, which has a variety of locations in Pittsburgh, is offering shop-exclusive flavor specials. It’s like a flavor-filled scavenger hunt! The Mexican War Streets location currently has an autumn spice flavor, but you can find other flavors at their Point Breeze, Squirrel Hill, Penn Avenue and Indiana, PA locations.

The rest of their menu is filled with classic drinks—like matcha lattes and cortados—that will warm you all the way to your toes. They also roast their own beans, which means you know it will be good. Commonplace also recently partnered with The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy to create a collaborative coffee blend series celebrating city parks.

Gas station coffee doesn’t have the best reputation, but American Natural is aiming to change that. “We are not your typical ‘gas station’ coffee,” said Norma Quon, executive vice president of marketing for American Natural.

American Natural has locations all over Pennsylvania and unlike most gas stations, they have baristas at each store who handmake their beverages, which include everything from golden milk lattes to iced Americanos to hot chocolate. The company also works with many local businesses, such as Steel Cup Coffee Roasters, Tupelo Honey Teas, and Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream, which is an added bonus—it’s great to see local businesses supporting each other.

In the spirit of the season, American Natural is offering a pumpkin spice latte. “We feel we have perfected the drink by adding real pumpkin and real spices; it’s a clean take on a fall favorite,” said American Natural CEO Jennifer Pomerantz. While you can’t go wrong with this classic flavor, if it’s not for you, there are many more drinks from which to choose.

Another spot that’s great for a warm and quick pick-me-up is Convive Coffee Roastery, which has convenient locations in Mars, McCandless and Lawrenceville. Like many coffee shops, they have all of the classic drinks that everyone knows and loves, but their fall menu has a few unique specialties. The orange spiced pumpkin latte adds an aromatic twist to a fall favorite and the smoked salted maple latte uses Old State Farms (located in Emlenton, PA) pure maple syrup with a dash of smoked salt on top.

Hallowed Grounds Coffee Roasterie, located in New Brighton, is the perfect spot if you’re looking for unique blends and flavors. They serve up a variety of new blends each day that are sourced from farms from all over the world. The flavored coffees they offer range from chocolate caramel kiss to blueberry cheesecake; in October, for example, they featured a delicious seasonal flavor called autumn splendor, a mix of pumpkin, marshmallow, caramel, and vanilla. You can also purchase holiday gifts while you’re there—they sell their roasted coffee blends, specialty teas, gift baskets, roasted nuts, homemade nut butters, and more.

These are just a few of the countless, amazing local coffee shops you can support this winter while you’re out doing your holiday shopping. And while you’re getting a drink, consider buying a gift card for one of your coffee-obsessed relatives. It’s a great way to ensure that these cozy spots stay open for years to come!