Makenna Winner | staff contributor
Redhawk Coffee is tucked away on the slanted slope of Meyran Avenue in Oakland. A bustling yet quaint space, Redhawk Coffee was born into the neighborhood in early 2017.
Before customers were going to the concrete space on Meyran Ave., Redhawk was going to them; the caffeine stop was once a coffee-truck that served its insanely good espresso at places like Highland Park. It’s most famous spot? Parked on the pavement of Bryant Street. Serving beans from Passenger Coffee, Four Barrel and Dogwood, the coffee-truck was a hit amongst locals. Along with its variations of espresso, coffee and cold brews, Redhawk served local additions that included apple and blueberry pies, delicately-made croissants from La Gourmandine Bakery and locally-made milk from Brunton Farms.
After some serious success from the espresso truck, Redhawk stationed itself in the heart of the University of Pittsburgh’s campus. Now, Pitt students flock to the space to crank out homework, nearby UPMC nurses and doctors run in to grab an espresso before or in-between shifts and out-of-towners meander by looking for something with local charm and character. Whatever it may be, Redhawk is the perfect destination. Encircled by hackneyed and trite chain-restaurants, Redhawk stands out as an assortment of Pittsburgh heritage and homage.
I first became a Redhawk goer in the fall, when I stumbled in there one day while I was in Oakland, looking for something that wasn’t a Starbucks or Bruegger’s. What I found was a quaint space with charming baristas, amazing bagels and the best coffee in this city. I soon found myself biking through the chilly fall winds in order to get a drip coffee with oat milk. Or, on a fun day, a mocha (which they make with locally made chocolate milk! Game-changer.)
The treks to Oakland were worth it for me. But then the coffee gods answered my prayers — I found out they were opening their Smithfield Street location and I was elated.
Recently, Redhawk Coffee opened its newest addition to the family on Smithfield Street, catering to a whole new segment of Yinzers. Bustling business employees from the Steel Tower, BNY Mellon and Highmark can now grab a locally-brewed americano, cappuccino, plain drip, or whatever may suit them.
While the Oakland location is more cozy, close and intimate with 2-3 tables, a snug window seat and a bar top, the Smithfield space is airy and free-flowing. This location is in partnership with PG&H, a local business that features collections of pieces from native-Pittsburgh makers. The new brick-and-mortar features a coffee bar aloft with a deluxe espresso machine, assorted coffee makers, toasters for locally-made bagels and a fridge full of almond and oat milk. Surrounding it is a space full of ardently produced furniture – tables, chairs, décor, candles, artwork – all designed by Pittsburgh makers.
The area doubles as both a retail shop and coffee shop, creating a unique experience and space for customers and coffee-drinkers alike. The merging of the two into one climate feels effortless and comfortable. It has become a stop not only for neighbors to get business work done, but also to grab a cup and catch up with a friend or peruse some new décor.
The spot has created a uniquely charming experience that somehow feels both foreign and familiar. You won’t walk into either of these locations without hearing an affable, enthusiastic hello. And you won’t walk out dissatisfied or unwelcomed. The baristas engage with their customers – keen to not just brew incredible coffee or perfectly toast a bagel but to connect and foster community. The spaces are gregarious, yet homey. Redhawk molds itself to be the space you need – whether that be a space of collective community or solitude. Redhawk Coffee has harvested its name into the Pittsburgh community and will continue to do so with its effortless desire to connect the community through coffee.