Constellation helps guide gourmet-coffee fans | Restaurant Reviews | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Constellation helps guide gourmet-coffee fans

Owner Amy Weiland is banking on a philosophy that treats coffee like craft beer

Celestial navigation has existed for thousands of years, but it's easy to miss Constellation, a new Lawrenceville coffee and espresso shop on Penn Avenue. But owner Amy Weiland is busy making the shop more visible (a new logo on the front window and outdoor seating), and she's hoping to build an atmosphere that will reflect "a place to navigate the neighborhood by."

Weiland, 26, is taking over the location and much of the equipment from Cats and Dogs Coffeehouse, but she's banking on a philosophy that treats coffee like craft beer, an experience that can enlighten the palate — and the brain.

Weiland explains my espresso: It's a single-origin seasonal Ethiopian Wazzalla ($2.60) with a fruity initial flavor that transitions into something more complex and earthy. For more info, there are laminated handouts — for instance, "Mexico Santa Teresa" is a bean with "butter croissant + cherry aromatics" and a "delicate mouthfeel."

The aesthetic is part coffeeshop, part mom-and-pop diner. A newly installed bar will soon offer pies by Louis Butler, and the menu board was purchased from a Florida snack bar.

And even though the shop will satisfy the caffeinated elite (she'll soon be serving drinks made from beans aged in cabernet sauvignon barrels), Weiland doesn't want to alienate. You can still buy a regular latte ($3.50-4) or hot cocoa ($3), though she isn't interested in "building drinks with lots of sugar additives." Here, the bean matters.

4059 Penn Ave., Lawrenceville

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