Explore Erie’s Vibrant Coffee Scene With These 8 Woman-Owned Shops

Explore Erie’s Vibrant Coffee Scene With These 8 Woman-Owned Shops

Photo courtesy of Pressed Bookstore

By Kalena Thomhave

September 28, 2023

Cup of Joe? In Erie, it’s more like “cup of Jane” as the northwestern Pa. city boasts an abundance of beloved woman-owned coffee shops.

Happy National Coffee Day! To celebrate, we’re highlighting eight coffee shops (including one roastery) in Erie that are owned by women.

Brew Ha Ha – Cathie McMillin

When Cathie McMillin started Brew Ha Ha in Erie’s Colony Plaza in 2015, she wanted it to evoke the feeling of drinking a cup of coffee at home, surrounded by friends and family. As such, the shop is warm and friendly, with staff who are happy to answer questions about coffee roasting and a patio fit for dog companions. Brew Ha Ha, in fact, is the rare coffee shop in Erie that roasts its own coffee in house—the roastery is located in the basement.

Ember + Forge – Hannah Kirby

After falling in love with the city of Erie, Hannah Kirby started Erie’s Ember + Forge coffee shop with the intention to create a community institution rather than just a business. The downtown coffee shop is indeed a center for community conversation and discussion over small tables instead of over Zoom. And importantly, the coffee is also excellent. Ember + Forge buys its beans from nearby Happy Mug Coffee, a roastery that is committed to responsible sourcing. It buys single-origin coffee—which can be traced back to a single farm or producer—rather than blends from multiple countries, meaning that the coffee’s origins are transparent.

Purrista Cat Café – Dena Rupp

Explore Erie’s Vibrant Coffee Scene With These 8 Woman-Owned Shops

Photo courtesy of Michaela Kessler Photography

Erie’s first cat café, the aptly named Purrista Cat Café, was founded by Dena Rupp in early 2022. If you’ve never heard of a cat café, prepare to get excited. The concept is simple: a cat café is a coffee shop that of course serves coffee drinks, but it is also full of cats that you can meet and play with. The cats are all up for adoption, so if you really connect with a cat, you might be able to adopt it! After just one year of operation, Purrista inspired more than 100 cat adoptions. At Purrista, the Cat Lounge—the room where the kitties hang out—requires a reservation, but you can visit the café and drink coffee and munch on treats whenever it’s open. So to drink coffee and visit your future feline friends, make a reservation online for the Cat Lounge and then arrive at the café early to grab a drink before your appointment time. That way, you can sip your coffee while you stroke some cats.

Café 7-10 – Mabel Howard and Thelma Mae Blanks-Howard

The focus of Café 7-10 may be sweets, but you can consider the coffee an excuse to set up shop there—and then gorge on brownies and cookies. The shop is not just woman-owned but is also Black-owned. Mabel Howard is in charge of the business, while her mother Thelma Mae Blanks-Howard bakes all the sweets. (Blanks-Howard also bakes the treats at her own shop front, Thelma’s Tasty Temptations, which is inside Erie’s Blasco Memorial Library). Visit Café 7-10 and sip your coffee while trying a selection of baked goods—cake, cookies, brownies, and more.

Tipsy Bean Café – Gisele Littrell

Explore Erie’s Vibrant Coffee Scene With These 8 Woman-Owned Shops

Photo courtesy of Tipsy Bean

Besides an adorable name and charming café atmosphere, Tipsy Bean Café, owned by Gisele Littrell, sells very good coffee. The shop even came home with the judges’ choice award in a 2023 competition (“Erie’s Best Coffee”) to determine Erie’s best cup of java. Besides espresso drinks, tea, and light, medium, and dark roast coffee, the shop also sells delicious handmade scones to accompany your drink. If scones aren’t your cup of…tea, then you can try a variety of other baked goods, like muffins, coffee cake, and cookies. Mmm, dessert for breakfast.

Pressed Books & Coffee – Tracey Bowes

Pressed Books & Coffee is no mere coffee shop—it’s also a bookstore. Owner Tracey Bowes realized the dream of many book-loving women when she opened Pressed in 2018. Since then, the combination coffee shop and bookstore has made book shopping much more fun — and beneficial to the community — than just clicking “add to cart” on Amazon. You can buy a novel and then lounge with a sweet treat at the full-service coffee shop, which serves brews from the exceptional, Pittsburgh-based Commonplace Coffee.

Mill Creek Coffee Co. – Anita Marcoline Rose

Explore Erie’s Vibrant Coffee Scene With These 8 Woman-Owned Shops

Photo courtesy of Mill Creek Coffee Co.

Mill Creek Coffee Co. isn’t technically a coffee shop—it’s a roastery, but we figured a woman-owned coffee roastery based in Erie absolutely qualified for this list. After all, Anita Marcoline Rose’s roastery supplies much of the coffee to all sorts of businesses in Erie and the surrounding area. Marcoline has been roasting coffee professionally in Erie since 1978, when she opened a predecessor of Mill Creek. The coffee—and that of its subsidiary, North Edge, which sells local craft coffee inspired by Erie culture—is available at a number of restaurants and coffee shops in the Erie area. You can also buy beans yourself at the Mill Creek Coffee store in Erie. And if you’d really like to try the coffee while chatting with roastery staff, the factory store also has a tasting room.

Coffee in the Park – Sarah Weismiller

Coffee in the Park is located on the east side of Erie. Founded in 2015 by Sarah Weismiller, Coffee in the Park sells delicious coffee drinks as well as food like French toast, breakfast sandwiches, and baked goods. And the shop sources its coffee from Happy Mug Coffee, a responsible roastery in nearby Edinboro. Coffee in the Park also partners with local artists and artisans to sell their goods in the store.


READ MORE: Welcome to Flavortown: 10 Pennsylvania Restaurants Featured on the Food Network


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