Knock About Coffee Truck
Photo courtesy of Knock About Coffee Truck.

Coffee helped us power through the quarantine. Now that Pittsburgh’s in the green phase, two new mobile businesses are keeping us caffeinated while we follow social distancing guidelines.

Photo courtesy of Urban Trail Coffee Co.

Knock About Coffee Truck

When Alyssa DeFusco happened upon a food truck for sale, she made a spur-of-the-moment decision and bought it, leaving behind a career in the nonprofit sector.

After this impulse purchase, DeFusco began operating her business as Knock About Coffee Truck in November 2019. The name, an old-fashioned term for wandering, fits DeFusco’s new lifestyle. She spends her days tooling around Pittsburgh in “Lil’ Blue” serving coffee.

Knock About boasts a classic, espresso-based menu, along with a selection of loose leaf teas, real fruit smoothies, iced beverages and pastries from Baked True North and Crust Worthy. DeFusco uses coffee from her favorite spot in the Strip District, de Fer Coffee & Tea.

“Since the truck is the tiniest of small businesses, I wanted to make sure we were working with another locally-owned and operated small business,” says DeFusco, a North Side resident. “They’ve been the best! They’re always there to educate on the best coffee practices and help the truck be successful, which is such a cool attitude to have in a competitive industry.”

Every month, DeFusco offers a seasonal latte and a tea drink. June’s featured flavors are so popular, they might just become permanent fixtures. Folks are guzzling down the Iced Honey Lavender Latte made with Bedillion Honey and lavender from Strip-based Roxanne’s Dried Flowers, and the Spring Fling, an iced Earl Grey lavender tea with honey and lemon.

During the week, you can usually find Knock About at the Robinson and Moon Township farmers’ markets and at Frick Park on the weekends. The truck’s Instagram and Facebook pages are updated weekly.

“She’s out as much as possible,” DeFusco says of Lil’ Blue.

Photo courtesy of Urban Trail Coffee Co.

Urban Trail Coffee Co.

Tana and Justin Mitchell are high school sweethearts who fell in love with coffee.

“We both appreciate a good cup of joe and the way the coffee community brings people together,” Tana Mitchell says. “When you’re traveling and you go into a local coffee shop, you feel at home no matter where you are.”

With Urban Trail Coffee Co., the Mitchells create a sense of caffeinated unity wherever they go. Last year, the Franklin Park couple converted an old horse trailer into a mobile café serving Commonplace Coffee.

It was set to launch in March, but COVID-19 stopped Urban Trail in its tracks. Making the most of a bad situation, the Mitchells, including their kids Ella and Jake, created the Give Thanks, Spread Love campaign. Through online donations, they delivered coffee to frontline workers. The trailer, lovingly dubbed “Bessie,” popped up at hospitals, police stations and mobile testing sites throughout the city, distributing close to 300 cups of liquid gratitude.

With many restrictions now lifted, Urban Trail is venturing into more public spaces and neighborhoods six days a week. You can track them on social media.

Along with a staple menu of drip coffee, lattes, cocoa and hot and iced teas, the Mitchells whip up featured beverages each month. For June, there’s a Campfire Cold Brew and a Cranberry Hibiscus Lemonade. An assortment of locally made cookies and blueberry bars also are available and you can buy an insulated Welly bottle to keep your drink hot or cold.

Whether you find them on main street or off the beaten path, the Mitchells are excited to create pop-up coffee clatches throughout the ‘burgh.

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.