Six outside-of-the-box lattes for adventurous Pittsburgh coffee lovers | Drink | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Six outside-of-the-box lattes for adventurous Pittsburgh coffee lovers

click to enlarge Pistachio Latte from Redstart Roasters - CP PHOTO: DANI JANAE
CP photo: Dani Janae
Pistachio Latte from Redstart Roasters
Pittsburgh has become a great place to get a cup of coffee, and with tons of coffee shops in multiple neighborhoods, it’s often hard to choose a spot to go to. Before the pandemic, I was much more adventurous, always seeking out a place to hide away with my laptop or a book. Now, that experience is quite far from me. Lately, I have been finding that I can enjoy a good cup of black coffee at home, but when I go out, I want a latte. Luckily for me, this city has a host of standard and seasonal lattes that go far outside the box.

I sought to find some of the city’s most adventurous lattes this week, and here’s what I found:

click to enlarge Black Pepper Cardamom Latte from Café D'Amore - CP PHOTO: DANI JANAE
CP photo: Dani Janae
Black Pepper Cardamom Latte from Café D'Amore

Black Pepper Cardamom Latte with Oat Milk

Café D’Amore

5400 Butler St., Lawrenceville.

This latte is one of my favorites in the city. So good, in fact, I get it every Sunday. It truly was the catalyst for me making this list. This latte features a housemade cardamom syrup and is topped with fresh, cracked black pepper. The taste is warm and spicy, with the cardamom adding an all-over toasted flavor and the pepper bringing in the spice toward the end. There is even a little pleasant tartness that comes through. This is a seasonal flavor, so hurry out and get it before the winter ends. Café D’Amore is also currently serving as a grocer, so stop in and get your dairy, your coffee, and some locally-made granola while you’re there.

click to enlarge Beet Latte from The Speckled Egg - CP PHOTO: DANI JANAE
CP photo: Dani Janae
Beet Latte from The Speckled Egg

Beet Latte with Hemp Milk

The Speckled Egg

501 Grant St. (Inside the Union Trust Building), Downtown.

When I was informed about this latte, my interest was immediately piqued. A beet latte? How would it taste, would there be other flavors to balance out the vegetable tones? Would it be pink?! When I walked into The Speckled Egg, I was ready for a taste adventure, and I sure got one. The beet latte is, as you might also have guessed, bright pink. They also boast a housemade syrup. The flavor was very … earthy. When talking with a friend about it, we decided it had the flavor of a steamed beet versus a roasted or raw beet. I am vegan, and hemp milk was the only non-dairy option, so that might have contributed to the taste, but it was not unpleasant. I drank about half of it before I moved on to my next coffee stop. I would order it again just for the novelty of having a bright pink latte. With a little more sweetness and ice, this one could be a real winner.

click to enlarge Lemon Rose Latte from Commplace Coffee - CP PHOTO: DANI JANAE
CP photo: Dani Janae
Lemon Rose Latte from Commplace Coffee

Lemon Rose Latte with Oat Milk

Commonplace Coffee

5827 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill.

This one was a Valentine’s Day weekend special, available only at the local chain's Squirrel Hill location. The Lemon Rose latte was very lemon forward, not quite like a lemon cake or bar, but a decidedly citrus flavor that complemented the coffee well. This latte is neither acidic nor sweet, and has a very delicate flavor that you have to take a couple of sips to really dig into. The rose doesn’t really come through unless you savor it. It would be nice to enjoy it with a baked good on a cold day. Commonplace has locations all over the city so no matter where you are, you can have access to their menu within a walk or a short drive, and the menu is different for each location, so keep that in mind when you go for a trip. While the Lemon Rose was a seasonal latte and only available for a limited time, the Squirrel Hill location also has a Vanilla Oak Latte that's on my list for my next visit.

click to enlarge Pistachio Latte from Redstart Roasters - CP PHOTO: DANI JANAE
CP photo: Dani Janae
Pistachio Latte from Redstart Roasters

Pistachio Latte with Oat Milk

Redstart Roasters

224 N. Euclid Ave., East Liberty.

This place has a very hip, comfy energy that I loved from the moment I walked in. Located across the street from the fire station, Redstart Roasters is a hidden gem that has great style and great coffee. The Pistachio Latte was sweet, nutty, and delicious. It had an almost vanilla-like flavor and was incredibly rich. The pistachio has a roasted warmth to it that makes you “mmmm” out loud when you drink it. Redstart also had a ginger latte that I’m sure is equally tasty, but I was already on a caffeine buzz after four lattes so I didn’t try it. I will definitely be going back, so it will be my try on the next trip. Did I mention that whoever was in charge of the music had impeccable taste? Way to create an atmosphere!

Picante Verde with Oat Milk

KLVN Coffee Lab

6600 Hamilton Ave., Homewood.

KLVN is sure to be a hot spot for Pittsburgh’s coffee lovers. Located right on Hamilton Avenue, it’s a jewel bringing creative, eclectic coffee to the East End. This coffee lab has a sort of a South Western, desert-themed décor that will warm you up even on the coldest Pittsburgh day. I ordered the Picante Verde, a latte made with poblano peppers, ginger, orange blossom honey, and espresso. For me, the most dominant flavor was the ginger — it hits the palate immediately and settles over the tongue. The poblano pepper supplies a back of the throat warmth that isn’t too heavy. The orange blossom honey really balances this drink out with an herbal sweetness. KLVN also carries a Beet Vanilla Latte that looks like a sweet treat. And, from the looks of it, KLVN has a ton of locally-made or small batch-created novelties too. I spied a beautiful French press that would look good in any home. So if you want to grab a coffee and a gift for yourself or a friend, KLVN is the spot.

click to enlarge Pea Blossom Matcha Latte from Adda Tea and Coffee House - CP PHOTO: DANI JANAE
CP photo: Dani Janae
Pea Blossom Matcha Latte from Adda Tea and Coffee House

Pea Blossom Matcha Latte with Oat Milk

Adda Tea and Coffee House

200 S. Highland Ave., Shadyside and 926 Western Ave., North Side.

This drink is probably the most delicate on the list. It’s also by far the prettiest. Made with blue jasmine tea syrup and matcha, this latte has a blue milk base that’s topped with the bright green of the matcha. It’s an iced drink, but since it isn’t bone chilling cold, I enjoyed it even on a snowy day. The jasmine adds a nice floral flavor to the latte, and the matcha brings its characteristically vegetal, nutty notes. I will say, I thought the oat milk overpowered the flavors in the latte, but that’s a problem I think many matcha lattes have, balancing the milk and tea. It’s not too sweet or too herbal and would be great on a summer day strolling around Shadyside. (Adda has multiple locations, but I visited the East End spot.) I also got to try the limited Sweetheart Latte: housemade raspberry syrup and espresso with the milk of your choice. The raspberry added a light sweetness that was very enjoyable.

Due to the pandemic, most of these locations offer a pick up option, so you can order your coffee right from your phone or computer and pick it up when it’s ready. Some places even have a delivery option if you are within a certain amount of miles from the location.

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