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Coffeehouses are a mirror of a city's soul

4sep2010: I have been in Pittsburgh now for two weeks. The city is roughly three times the size of Albany and old enough to have a complex pattern of neighborhoods. One way to explore these, naturally, is to find coffeehouses. You can learn a lot about a neighborhood from the atmosphere at the coffeehouse.


Down Penn Avenue into the Friendship neighborhood is Voluto. It's very geometric, with spartan decor and hard furniture. Perhaps my biggest pet peeve is coffeehouses that only have disposable cups, but Voluto has ceramic mugs. This is some strange kind of mockery, however, since a refill costs the same as the first cup.

Further down Penn is The Quiet Storm, which also serves vegetarian food. People from the area are in and out regularly. The staff is friendly. It has a good vibe. The worst thing I can say about it is that their grits were a bit lumpy.

The Quiet Storm

Last week I went across the river into Southside to visit a used bookstore. There was a book that I'd been about to order on-line when I realized that it was available here in town. I got there and bought it just before rush hour, so I decided to wait out traffic in the nearby Beehive. A bit dark, but nice.

Today I walked up to Highland Park and visited Tazza D'oro again.

Nevertheless, I don't want you to think that my time here is all caffeine and pastries. Although coffeehouses are my preferred way to combine getting some work done with exploring the city, I've spent weekdays at the office.


I get office space at the Center as one of the perks of being a visiting fellow. The computer has a much bigger monitor than my laptop, which is great for reading a long parade of articles in PDF. I also get the chance to talk philosophy of science with whoever is around, which is the whole point of taking my sabbatical here rather than in (say) Aruba. Plus, there's a restaurant-grade Bunn coffee maker in the lounge.


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