Judging Java: La Prima Espresso Company

La Prima is the first coffee establishment to receive a 5 Globe ranking from our resident Coffee Columnist


Photo by Jake Dabkowski

A cappuccino from La Prima in the Strip District

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Coffee Columnist

5 Globes

This week, I was in the Strip District and thought to myself, “I could really go for a traditional cappuccino.” I did not expect that the cappuccino I would end up ordering would be the best I have ever had.

Located conveniently next to the Pittsburgh Popcorn Company and Sunnyside Medical Cannabis Dispensary, La Prima Espresso Company is the perfect place to go when you want a cappuccino after buying popcorn.

La Prima is a local chain, but the original is the one located in the Strip, and I felt that it would be a disservice to review one of the offshoots as the original opened in 1988 and has become a historic staple of the Strip District.

The shop has a cozy feel to it, but in a way unlike most other shops. It very much has its own feel to it, a combination of a traditional Italian espresso shop with something hard to describe, but so distinctly Pittsburgh.

Something that has become a lost art form in the era of mass consumption is the appearance of an actual cup of coffee. Most coffee shops serve all of their coffee in to-go cups, which, while convenient, is a repetitive and ultimately generic visual style. Some shops will do a pour over, and while that gives their coffee some visual flair, it still feels like putting a hat on a monotonous hat.

La Prima, on the other hand, served what is one of the most visually appealing coffees I have ever been served. It is a cup of coffee so beautiful that I felt the need to photograph it and then print it in this newspaper. I will allow said photograph to speak for itself.

Drinking the cup was unbelievable. It had the perfect amount of foam, with a texture so rich, but somehow managing to never feel dry. The espresso was bitter, but a type of bitter that felt flavorful. Many coffeeshops fall victim to a burnt flavor by roasting their beans at an extremely high temperature, but La Prima managed to deliver an exquisite taste, which indicated that they clearly know what they are doing when it comes to roasting.

La Prima is not only worth visiting if you happen to be in the Strip, but it is worth justifying an entire visit to the Strip. It is a cappuccino so delicious that I am confident awarding it a perfect score of five Globes out of five. Not only are there no flaws with it, but it excels in every single category; the flavor is delicious, the foam is fantastic, the shop itself is delightful, and the staff are incredibly friendly.

Ultimately, this cappuccino is proof that the thesis of this coffee column, a search for the perfect cups of coffee, is not in vain. I cannot necessarily speak for the other La Prima locations, such as one located in the AC Marriott in Downtown or the one on Carnegie Mellon’s campus, but the Strip District location is certainly worth a visit.

This now begs the question: how can we get one on our campus?