Judging Java: Round Table

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Editor-in-Chief

One thing that I find incredibly frustrating about many coffee shops is volume. Many coffee shops, especially coffee shops that double as eateries, are entirely too loud. A coffee shop should be chill, and loud noises should be kept outside.

Unfortunately, most coffee shops, especially in the Downtown area, fail this litmus test entirely. I personally love to sit with a cup of coffee and read a book (currently I’m reading Haruki Murakami’s ‘The Wind Up Bird Chronicle’). Loud music, especially loud music with pronounced lyrics, can be incredibly distracting.

Beyond that, a coffee shop for a college student can be a source of immense refuge and solitude. Whether studying, reading, or just taking a deep breath, a calm atmosphere is universally preferable to a chaotic one.

Roundtable Coffee in Shadyside understood this struggle. The vibes inside were immaculate, and I was able to peacefully enjoy reading ‘The Wind Up Bird Chronicle’ for quite a while.

That’s not to say that the cafe was silent. Quietly playing out of the speakers was a blend of Japanese jazz fusion music and relaxing lofi hip-hop instrumentals. As a big fan of jazz fusion, this delighted me. As an aside, if you’re looking for some good jazz fusion tunes, I recommend checking out Yurie Kokubu (Roundtable was playing her song Just a Joke), Hi-fi Set (listen to Hi-Fi Blend Pt. 1), Masayoshi Takanaka (he’s an incredibly gifted and talented guitarist, look up the video of him with the surfboard guitar), and Casiopea (their 1979 self-titled is magnificent). If you’re looking to get into the genre and have never listened to it, I recommend checking out the compilation album Our Town from Dong-A Records.

Roundtable’s coffee was just as immaculate as their music. I opted for a lavender latte. At this point, whenever I see that a coffee shop has genuine lavender flavoring (not that artificial crap) I always think much higher of them. Lavender is naturally sweet, but not too sweet, and it pairs very naturally with the bitterness of the espresso. If you’ve never had a lavender latte, I insist that you hop on the 71B or 71D buses from Downtown to Shadyside and stop at Roundtable.

On that note, I think that it is important to note that Roundtable is located somewhat near Trader Joe’s, Giant Eagle, and Whole Foods in Shadyside. That being said, I would recommend getting coffee before you get groceries, especially if you are relying on the bus. The grocery stores are a ten to fifteen-minute walk from the shop depending on how fast of a walker you are.

Although Roundtable is a bit of a journey for Point Park students, I would consider it an essential stop if you’re a coffee connoisseur like myself. If you’ve never been over to Walnut Street or the Shadyside area at all, it is a nice, relaxing spot to spend a Sunday morning. And if you have been over to Walnut Street or the Shadyside area, then you already know that it is a nice, relaxing spot to spend a Sunday morning.

One last thing that I would like to note: for Christmas, I was gifted a coffee passport to the city, which covers a free cup of coffee at various coffee shops in the area. Roundtable was one of these shops. These passports are a great deal if you’re interested in trying a lot of different places, but keep in mind that they will entail quite a journey. Also, if you do get one of these passports, remember to tip your barista!