Youngstown is Coffee’s Grounds

By Tyler Rothbauer

The downtown area consists of three very different and successful coffee shops — Friends Specialty, Joe Maxx Coffee Company and Pressed Coffee Bar and Eatery. Each one is contributing to the varying experiences coffee drinkers have in the Youngstown area.

Mitchell Lynch, owner of Friends Specialty, has been operating the company for 14 years. With the original location in Salem, Lynch saw an opportunity and came to Youngstown to help “bring it back.” Friends Specialty has a historic and Youngstown-attributed atmosphere, including a native rustic steel table dating back to 1885.

The atmosphere and the coffee go hand in hand. Their brew coffee is the best seller, with the focus primarily on African beans, meaning a lighter roast and clearer flavors. Lynch takes pride in his coffee.

“We offer our best product at a lower cost and to our best availability,” he said.

In the near future, Lynch plans on contributing 25 percent of all sales to various causes within the area.

A few blocks down from Friends Specialty is Joe Maxx Coffee Company. Within the shop is a casual atmosphere and comfortable seating area to complete homework or chat. The company features a variety of blends, including organic beans from Peru, a signature house blend developed by the owner and custom espresso.

“All of our coffee is part of fair trade,” Manager Lee Simpson said.

Aside from the various roasts, Joe Maxx features countless signature drinks. According to Simpson, a latte including vanilla and real cinnamon called “The Black and Tan” has been their best seller recently.

Also offered are several made-fresh wraps, salads and soups. In addition to having an affordable menu, a 10 percent discount is offered to students that present a valid Youngstown State University ID.

Joe Maxx plans to expand in the near future. With this expansion comes a whole new type of coffee — nitro-brew. Simpson will be heading up this project and expects everything to be ready in a few months.

The newest of the bunch, Pressed Coffee Bar and Eatery, has been operating for a year and a half and offers customers a variety of roasts, with their beans primarily originating from South and Central America.

“We feature a lot of South American coffee,” said Pressed co-owner Frank Tuscano. “We [also] have an excellent espresso blend.”

These blends offer a medium roast full of the native flavor.

Similar to Joe Maxx, Pressed serves custom blend espresso, but they also offer signature espresso drinks such as their cortado.

Pressed offers an expansive and cultured menu. Offered are salads, sandwiches, pastries, waffles served all day long and their best-selling breakfast sandwiches. Tuscano said he takes pride in the fact that everything is made fresh, and made to order in Pressed’s kitchen.

All three of these shops have collaborated into simply making Youngstown a great place to drink some good coffee. The industry is growing exponentially, and more coffee implies more business and competition — two great things for a coffee enthusiast.