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Zeke's Coffee 

Beans roasted in small batches is the hallmark of this coffee purveyor.

Chris Rhodes invokes two philosophies at Zeke's Coffee in East Liberty: "high-end coffee done simply" and "Zeke it up." The latter is a tribute to his grandfather, for whom the business is named.

Rhodes roasts coffee beans in small batches throughout the day. Instead of a drum roaster which takes large quantities, Rhodes uses a fluid-bed roaster, which moves hot air underneath the beans to keep each bean at the same temperature. "It acts like a popcorn popper. It keeps the beans moving and heating up," he explains. The result, Rhodes says, is a very consistent, very fresh roast.

Zeke's opened in July, and embraces the do-it-yourself mentality Rhodes says reminds him of his grandfather. "We make everything we need," he says, pointing to a chaff collector he built to collect the skins that fly off the beans during the roasting process. He gives the chaffs to farmers to use as compost. 

The interior of the shop is simple but welcoming: Burlap coffee sacks hang on the wall, there's one rustic table with two chairs, and flyers and publications from local organizations and events. "I like to keep everything raw," explains Rhodes. 

He roasts beans from 12 different origins, and offers natural, fair-trade and sustainable coffee. Zeke's also sells blends, like the Three Rivers Roast, a medium, three-bean blend, or the Steel City Blend, a bolder mix. He also sells coffee and hot tea by the cup, and the beans at local farmers' markets. 6012 Penn Ave., East Liberty. 724-201-1671

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