Stepping into Espresso a Mano on any day of the week is like stepping into a friend's kitchen. The low hum of conversation contributes to the homey atmosphere as does the old wooden floors and the art of the month adorning the brick walls. Just like the rest of Lawrenceville, this shop was remade from an old business, repurposed into a thriving, energetic location, welcoming caffeine-craving residents and tourists alike.
When we were looking for a coffee shop to base Lacey's Mocha Magic shop on, Espresso a Mano fit the bill. The owner, Matt Gebis, was kind enough to answer all of our questions - what the busiest hours for a coffee shop? What are all the parts of the coffee machine? How do you do the fancy deco foam on all your drinks? How many staff do you need to keep the coffee flowing? What the heck is that recurring whacking? (It's the staff banging the grounds out of the filter basket into the knock box.) Matt and his crew even welcomed us to the cafe for our book launch of Melt in your Mouth back in June.
The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about their products, also patiently answering questions and pouring cups of coffee, hot water for tea, and hot chocolate, depending on your preference. Caramel lattes and hot chocolates are popular in online reviews and comments.
One of my favorite features is the huge garage door (most of the front wall) that Matt and his staff open to the sidewalk on pleasant days, inviting the outside in and allowing those sitting on the sidewalk to feel like part of the family without any barriers.
Speaking of barriers, everyone is welcome at Espresso a Mano, including children and dogs on leashes. The small seating area at the front of the shop has mostly two-tops, with a bench along one wall. Further back, a standing bar occupies the wall, so if you can't find any seating, you can still enjoy your coffee while chatting with a friend.
It's this homey atmosphere we envision Lacey's place having, a place you want to come back to day after day, for the great beverages and more.
Do you have a privately owned coffee shop near you? What do you like best about it?