Above: Matt Yough opened Just Bean Coffee House last month on East Ohio Street and is selling fair trade organic coffee. (photo by Kelsey Shea).

by Kelsey Shea

Even though he was already working in the coffee business, Matt Yough said he’d never open a coffee shop. But that’s just what he did.

On May 22, Just Bean Coffee House opened at 417 E. Ohio St. in the front portion of Bistro to Go’s event space.

Just Bean will serve organic, fair-trade coffee on the lower Northside, where Deutschtown residents have been itching for a coffee shop.

Yough also runs a coffee catering company, called Bean Catering, that offers espresso and specialized coffee catering at events across Western Pennsylvania.

He said that the low overhead and flexible hours make it a more secure business than a coffee shop, but he changed his mind when a Northsider talked him into the Historic Deutschtown neighborhood.

Through a local nonprofit called Building New Hope, Yough met Nikki Heckman, owner of Bistro-To-Go, who convinced him to open up shop on East Ohio Street.

“We got to talking and she showed me the space,” said Yough. “I knew it would be a great partnership.”

Because Yough already runs the catering company, he said he’s just seeing how it goes with the East Ohio Street coffee house and only has a three month lease there.

“I’m playing it by ear and trying to be very organic about it,” said Yough. “If I’m not losing money, I’m happy.”

Building New Hope not only brought Yough into the Northside, but into coffee business as well.

Building New Hope is a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that supports grassroots development projects in Central America and raises money largely through coffee sales.

Building New Hope raises funds to do work in Central America and helps support farmers there by selling its own blend of organic and fair trade coffee, which is shipped from Central America, roasted in Pittsburgh and bagged by volunteers.

The coffee sold in Just Bean Coffee House and by Bean Catering, is Building New Hope coffee.

“We’re building hope, and we’re selling it,” Yough said, noting that bags of coffee are also for sale in the coffee house.

Yough said he and Building New Hope volunteers will also use the Bistro space to bag the coffee, and that Northsiders have already stepped up and gotten involved.

“It’s a great place to be,” said Yough.