Adventures in Pittsburgh: Big Dog Coffee and the Kindest of Strangers


When I lived in Europe, it was not uncommon to share a table with strangers. That’s how I met an Australian woman who’s daughter had just ended a engagement with an Italian man. And the kindest pair of old Sicilian men who insisted my sister and I partake in their homemade Easter meal. And those Canadian students traveling around the world. Maybe it was because many of us were foreigners and travelers. Traveling makes one so adventurous. You’re willing to strike up a conversation with anyone who can point you in the right direction or offer up their recommendation for the perfect restaurant. But how often do we keep that adventurous spirit when we get home?


Not often. Which is why I swore to explore a new place in Pittsburgh every weekend; hence this “Adventures in Pittsburgh” series. My adventurous spirit comes out in a myriad of ways, from asking the bar tender to pour me his favorite draft, to venturing to a local brewery alone and meeting a group of young Midwesterners willing to share a counter and their choice beers, to what happened today at Big Dog Coffee: offering a couple to share a table with me because all other seats were taken. It seemed like the right thing to do. An Australian in an Italian cafe would do it. A couple of Canadian girls would do it at Dublin hostel breakfast table. So of course I would too.

What touched me was how unexpected the couple felt the gesture was. How pleasantly unexpected. And intriguing. And adventuresome! Pretty soon we were chatting about our jobs, our education, how we found ourselves settling in Pittsburgh. And as soon as the topic turned to sports (are you surprised?), we had the whole coffee shop chatting.


Surely it’s the small things in life that make each day feel new. And surely we can all create a little adventure and camaraderie, whether we’re are exploring cathedrals in Palermo, climbing bunks in dirty Parisian hostels, or kicking back with a great cup of coffee in our own town. I’m pretty sure everyone at Big Dog had a morning they won’t forget for a long time; a small reminder that we’re all living our own adventures in the same big, awesome world.

Oh, and the coffee here is excellent. I dare you to try it. And maybe you’ll ask to share a table with strangers while you’re at it.


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