Judging Java: Nicholas Coffee & Tea Co.

Written By Jake Dabkowski

4/5 Globes


Most college-aged kids seem to be under the impression that all cups of coffee are the same, but in reality, not all coffee is created equal. In this column I will be reviewing the various coffee shops near Point Park University, all as part of my search to find the perfect cup of coffee.

Nestled away in Market Square, Nicholas Coffee & Tea Company is tucked in between Sienna and what used to be Nola. Nicholas is on the nicer end of the scale when it comes to atmosphere, and sells cigars, so you know it’s fancy.

Whenever a shop has a more upscale, legitimate feel to it, the bar is set higher for the coffee. When you get a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts or at a gas station, you know that that cup will likely taste like the Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile’s exhaust pipe. But with a shop like Nicholas, you expect quality. Oftentimes this is where shops will disappoint, they set you up for something they can’t possibly deliver on.

But Nicholas does deliver. I ordered their blend of the day, a Northern Italian, which was brewed to a perfect temperature of around 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Black coffee from places like Starbucks, because it is brewed to a high temperature around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, will often taste like a kick to the mouth from a bull that is having a bad day, but the Northern Italian feels like a warm hug. It’s energizing, but calming, and the very pleasant aftertaste leaves you feeling content as you go about your day.

The cup has the perfect amount of bitterness to it, it’s bitter enough that you know it’s a good cup of coffee, but not so bitter that the rest of the flavor of the cup is overwhelmed. In terms of flavor the Northern Italian has elements of a French roast and is far less acidic than a cup you’d get at Starbucks or you’d make yourself.

Another thing that I think is notable: this coffee was surprisingly cheap. A 12 ounce cup of the house blend was only $1.75, while a Starbucks 12 ounce cup costs $1.95, which is a staggering price difference when you consider the quality of the cup that you’re getting at both restaurants. If you remember my review from last week, I gave Starbucks’ Pike Place Roast a 2 ½ out of 5.

One thing I do have to dock Nicholas points for is the aroma. The aroma could have potentially brought this cup up to a 4 and ½, or even possibly a 5, but there simply was no aroma to this cup, and that definitely hurt the cup.

I ordered the Northern Italian twice, once black and once with cream and sugar, and personally I’d recommend getting the Northern Italian black, as it has enough flavor to speak for itself on its own. Overall, it’s a quality cup and I would recommend people try out Nicholas Coffee & Tea Co. for themselves. It has a little something for everyone.