Coffee and books go as well together as French fries on a sandwich in Pittsburgh. You can have one without the other, but why would you? Settle in with a new bestseller and a just-brewed coffee. Here are the best places to go for a lovely snack and a fabulous book – purchased or borrowed – in and around Pittsburgh.
Cup & Chaucer Cafe
Hillman Library Ground Floor
3960 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Don’t be intimidated by the fact that Cup & Chaucer is located in the University of Pittsburgh’s main library. You don’t have to be a student to enter. Head into Hillman, grab the day’s newspaper or a bestseller from the shelves in Cup & Chaucer and read while you snack and sip. This cafe serves as both a reading room and a meeting place for poetry readings and coffeehouse-style musical performances. Bonus tip: students of any local university, not just Pitt, can actually apply for lending privileges and non-students can apply for a special borrower card membership.
Carnegie Library Main Branch 1st Floor
4400 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Just across the park from Hillman is CLP’s main branch which houses a special location of Crazy Mocha coffee shop. Crazy Mocha in CLP is right in the thick of the vibrant, surprisingly noisy first floor that houses a magazine area, bestseller section and computer cluster. Grab a magazine and order one of Crazy Mocha’s signature coffees and decadent biscotti. Wander around with your treats (put a lid on that coffee, please) as you explore this amazing renovated area in CLP Main. Be sure to stop by the circulation desk to sign up for a free library card if you are an Allegheny county resident.
The Big Idea Cooperative Bookstore & Cafe
4812 Liberty Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
The Big Idea belongs on any book lover and cafe lover’s must-visit list because of its uniqueness. Located in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood, The Big Idea is actually a worker-owned co-op that specializes in hard-to-find counter-culture literature. The shop dedicates itself to representing underrepresented demographics, political ideas and lifestyles that are deemed alternative by mainstream culture. What emerges from these founding ideas is an incredibly open and welcoming space for readers that also features a cafe with a vegan menu with food items sourced from local vendors. Expect reasonable prices on both the books and food in this one-of-a-kind shop.
Mystery Lovers Bookshop
514 Allegheny River Blvd
Oakmont, PA 15139
Mystery Lovers Bookshop is a must-visit store just a few minutes from downtown in Oakmont. This store prides itself on staying true to the genre that made it a success, so the majority of the titles that are available are from the mystery genre. The cafe, located in the center of the store, is a welcoming place to sit down and read the first chapter of the book you just purchased while you sip tea and have a small snack. This cafe within the shop is also the lifeblood of the book clubs that regularly meet there.
Sally Turkovich Wright lives in her beloved city of Pittsburgh with her husband, Jason and German Shepherd, Zeus. She is a policy analyst by training, an eyewear stylist by trade and an amateur healthy-living advocate by choice. She also writes a column for Twoday Magazine. Catch up with her there at twodaymag.com. Her work can be found at Twodaymag.com.