Blue Canary Coffeehouse, which has gotten a lot of buzz at its Beaver County shop for its nitro brewing process, has opened a second location on the Mt. Lebanon – Castle Shannon line.

Owner Stephen Antosz says he and his wife Rena had been hoping to open in the South Hills for a while, but were waiting for just the right space. When they found the spot at 300 Mt. Lebanon Blvd., which already had a lot of the coffee equipment they needed, they decided to take the leap.

Angela Fullard, artist (that’s her work) and barista with Rena, owner.
Angela Fullard, artist (that’s her work) and barista with Rena, owner.

“Blue Canary is the manifestation of a lifelong dream of a lifelong dreamer,” they say on the shop’s website. Stephen Antosz says that’s all about Rena and her dream of opening a coffee shop after working at one.

“She’s really the passion behind Blue Canary,” he says. “She worked as a barista in Butler for eight years, and always wanted her own place.”

The shop’s name comes from the They Might Be Giants’ song “Birdhouse in your Soul,” a favorite of Rena’s in college, which tells the tale of a blue canary “watching over you.”

The couple stumbled across its Ambridge location on a bike ride, Stephen says, and in the two-plus years it’s been open, it has grown to be a community staple.

They’re hoping for a similar response in the Castle Shannon location. While it’s on Mt. Lebanon Blvd. and it says Mt. Lebanon Shops, it’s technically Castle Shannon. Either way, “So far, so good,” Stephen says. “There are a lot of people who heard about the nitro coffee, and wanted to give it a try.” (That included us and we are happy to say it’s ridiculously good. We tried both varieties that morning and while they were both great, we went nuts over the one with hops in it.)

Artwork around the counter was done by Angela Fullard, pictured behind it. Blue Canary coffeehouse photo by TC.

The nitro coffee process involves cold pressed coffee that has been infused with nitrogen, on a system Stephen built himself after a lot of research. The nitro coffee is stored cold in kegs and poured from a tap. Even though it doesn’t have any alcohol in it, nitro coffee has a thin layer of foam that resembles a fine brew, earning it the nickname “morning beer.”

Aside from its nitro brewing process, Blue Canary is known for making all its flavored syrups in house, which varies by season. Stephen says for fall, the pumpkin (made with real pumpkin), caramel and spiced apple flavors will be prominent will be on the menu.

The couple is dedicated to supporting local small businesses, from using beans from Nicholas Coffee, down to the artwork at the new location, which was done by Pittsburgh artist Angela Fullard.

The South Hills location will have the same menu as the Ambridge shop, Stephen says, with two of its five taps specifically for its nitro coffee. In addition to its coffees, Blue Canary will be offering some kid-friendly beverages as well, including flavored sodas and milkshakes.

Blue Canary CoffeeHouse will be open in Castle Shannon from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Stephen Antosz says if there’s enough demand, they may consider adding Sunday hours as well.

NEXT staff

The staff at NEXTpittsburgh writes about the people driving change in the region and the innovative and cool things happening here.