Amy Enrico traveled the country searching for a cup of gold. It took almost two years, but she found her perfect coffee in Olympia, Wash., and brought it back to Highland Park. You can taste it at Enrico's Tazza D'Oro, the coffee shop and community hub she's run for almost 10 years that's become an East End institution.
"It's very community-oriented," Enrico says. "The thing we're good at isn't tangible -- it's to create a culture and experience around coffee."
On any given day, you might catch a poetry reading, political announcement or conversation group. If you're looking for meditation partners or someone to look after your cat, there are probably flyers posted that can help you.
And in the summertime, the shop spills out onto the Highland Avenue sidewalk, where caffeine fiends can sip their drinks with dogs at their sides.
The café's baristas are highly trained, Enrico says, and the espresso machine is situated so that people can see their drinks being made. And the roasts -- she finally found the perfect one from Batdorf and Bronson -- are among the best in the city. The house brew, Highland Park Blend, gets it just right.
Every week, there are different coffee blends available. Beginning again in the new year and thereafter every week or so, the shop will have cuppings, where first the staff and then customers taste the new blends and learn about the unique characteristics of each. It's a little like a wine-tasting, where you can learn what aspects of the perfect cup of joe you like best.
For those who prefer to sit and steep, Tazza also offers an extensive tea menu, with more than 50 varieties.
The small food menu uses locally sourced produce from Penn's Corner Farm Alliance and focuses on traditional Italian Panini. The sandwiches come in plenty of veggie options, in addition to meaty choices such as grass-fed beef and farm-raised ham, bacon and chicken. Some pastries are baked on-site.
Sunday brunch, served from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., which features a rotating menu, is worth a stop, but so is the java, served with care, every day.
1125 Highland Ave., Highland Park.
412-362-3676 or www.tazzadoro.net.