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Espresso a Mano: Lawrenceville's new caffeination destination

Lower Lawrenceville's got a new addition to its bustling business district--Espresso a Mano.

The café, which opened mid-July at 3623 Butler St., is truly a labor of love for Dormont resident Matt Gebis, who not only owns the shop, but also operates it almost entirely on his own.

In Italian, Espresso a Mano means "Espresso by Hand"--and that's exactly what you'll find behind its garage-front facade. Gebis, a former University of Pittsburgh Italian instructor, spent five years learning the coffee craft at Strip District staple La Prima before deciding to create his own café in the 1000-square-foot space not far from Tamari and the Round Corner Cantina, both of which also opened this summer along Butler Street.

Gebis' approach is simple: Focus on the coffee. The decor is understated (a vintage bar rescued from a Slovakian social hall in Donora, Pa. takes up the large part of the room), and the eats are basic (a few fresh, highest-quality baked goods from Enrico Biscotti and Colangelo's Bakery, both in the Strip).

"There are four principals to good coffee," says Gebis. "The machine, the blend, the grind, and the hand. Of those four, the hand is perhaps the most important."

Espresso a Mano uses beans from La Prima as well as Counter Culture, a direct trade-certified roaster based in Durham, NC. The espresso is even a special blend Gebis developed while at La Prima.

Other nearby coffeehouses include Crazy Mocha and Your Inner Vagabond, both of which are on the other side of 40th Street.

Writer: Caralyn Green
Source: Matt Gebis, Espresso a Mano

Photo copyright Caralyn Green
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