An assortment of summer drinks from De Fer Coffee & Tea. Photo courtesy of De Fer Coffee & Tea.

If you need caffeine, but can’t stomach the thought of quaffing a hot cup of joe, try a cold brew — a strong yet smooth drink steeped cold or at room temperature — or an iced coffee, made the traditional way and served on the rocks. Here are 4 places with unique offerings that’ll help you chill out and wake up during this sweltering Steel City summer.

De Fer Coffee & Tea, multiple locations

One of De Fer’s customer favorites is the espresso tonic. Colloquially known as the Sproton, the drink's current recipe combines an espresso with lemon Rooibos syrup. The company, which has continued to expand and now operates six locations in Pittsburgh, also offers signature coffee cocktails, including an espresso martini made with Maggie’s Farm Coffee Rum. Cheers to the Sproton! De Fer also serves a full menu of refreshing seasonal cocktails (and creative mocktails), including this summer's Strawberry Margarita. The Coconut Daydream cold brew with coconut cold foam, Hibiscus Lemongrass Iced Tea and the Blueberry Lemon Lavender Shrub Sparkler sure sound enticing for sipping during a Pittsburgh heat wave.

Photo courtesy of The Black Canary Coffee + Ice Cream.

The Black Canary Coffee + Ice Cream, 276 Freeport Road, Blawnox

With a wide selection of coffee, milkshakes and ice cream, The Black Canary can cool you off and satisfy your sweet tooth during the same visit. After making customers happy in Springdale for three years, the shop moved down the road to Blawnox in late 2023. A popular order is the Affogato, a double shot of espresso poured over a scoop of ice cream. New seasonal specials for 2024 include the Caramel Cookie Dough Affogato, which features a double shot of espresso with cookie dough ice cream and caramel topped with whipped cream. If frozen lemonade is your jam, don't miss the Lemonade Float (yes, please), which lathers any ice cream with lemonade. The Espresso Milkshake blends your choice of ice cream and milk with a double shot of espresso, all smothered in whipped cream. Vegan milks are available. Patrons looking to cool off with non-alcoholic options can try some summery mocktails like the Strawberry Mojito and Berry Canary.

Photo courtesy of Mechanic Coffee Co.

Mechanic Coffee Co., 707 East Railroad Ave., Verona and 5830 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside

Mechanic’s roasting team, experts on specialty coffee equipment for nearly 20 years, developed a canned Nitro Cold Brew to bring out subtle notes of chocolate, fruit and nuts and give it a creamy mouthfeel and a sweet finish. After shaking it up, sip straight from the can or quickly pour it into a glass so you can watch the hypnotic cascading effect. Six-packs of the stuff are available for sale at both locations.

Photo courtesy of Redhawk Coffee.

Redhawk Coffee, multiple locations

Redhawk is flying high these days. What began as an espresso truck and a pop-up led to a flagship store in Oakland and a loyal following. Expanding citywide, Redhawk has evolved into a multi-cafe roaster with locations in Sharpsburg and on the Carnegie Mellon University campus in Scaife Hall. Redhawk's brand-new location opened on June 1 in Uptown. The site includes a boutique market and also sells Millie's Homemade Ice Cream. Plans are in the works for the Uptown location to also sell cocktails and prepared grab-and-go items. So why is Redhawk so popular? Find out by trying their Vietnamese cold brew, an iced mocha made with Brunton Dairy chocolate milk with a double shot of espresso, or a Spro tonic that combines Red Ribbon tonic water topped with a double dose of espresso. Seasonal specials are also offered at each location.

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.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and SLB Radio Productions. She is co-author of the award-winning book, "Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania." For 15-plus years, she was co-coordinator and marketing director with Handmade Arcade, Pittsburgh's first and largest independent craft fair. She makes music as The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.