Been a while since I posted here…because it’s been a while since I had the time to travel. Yeah, the past month has been busy, especially with my side project(s) and election season. I won’t even comment on that. Maybe I will, in fact, devote an entire post to that. You are warned. Anyhow, with the days getting shorter and shorter, the coffee in my life has been more critical than ever. I’ve been scouring the grocery stores (including our new Giant in Harrisburg) to find some new, interesting brands, especially local brands. That brings me to an interesting find here at the Choc O’ Latte Cafe in Millerstown.
I decided to go to Millerstown because of a random Google search I did of the area west of the Susquehanna River to see if there were any nice, small towns with independent coffee shops located between here and State College. Mostly, Route 11/15 and some of 322 North are known for their pawn shops, porn shops, and truck stops; not for the artsy, progressive culture that’s really necessary for “coffeehouse culture” to take root (look for a post on that coming up). So was there coffee? Not diners and Dunkin’ Donuts, I mean real coffee. Yes, there was coffee and plenty else besides.
The Choc O’ Latte Cafe is hard to miss when you come into the town, situated as it is right along the town square. Millerstown has less than a thousand residents, so most landmarks are hard to miss, but the Cafe with its stylized letters and big flag out front are especially hard to miss. The inside is cozy, with a big window onto the square which is now taken up with a plethora of Christmas doodads.
The coffee was quite good, though a bit less strong than I typically drink it. That’s OK, this was breakfast and they were catering to less-hardened stomachs than mine. The really great thing I noticed was that there was no metallic taste that usually comes with the not-so-strongly brewed coffees. Whether that was from exceptional water or from straight-up bean quality I couldn’t quite determine. The word that could best describe this particular coffee, a Columbian, was ‘smooth’. It wasn’t buttery, like the fuller-bodied stuff I usually drink, but rather was the kind of coffee that goes down easily due to its low acidity, and which pairs with food well. The coffee was born to be a breakfast coffee, and it was, in fact, itself born locally! The beans came from Rich Coast Coffee, a local company that I had never heard of, but that operates out of nearby Lewistown.
I talked with the owner, Angela, about the town and the coffeehouse, learning a little bit of Millerstown lore (such as the local historic home that I did not get to visit regrettably), but also learning that I had come right in the middle of the breakfast buffets that are done every Saturday from 8-11 in the morning. It’s a flat $10 to buy in, but the food looked hot, good, and pretty much bottomless. Next time I’m up, I’ll have to try it. I was in a bit of a rush to get back to a family Thanksgiving meal, so Angela tossed me a sweet sticky bun and I ran off into the frigid morning just a little bit warmer.
On the way out of town, I ran into something interesting. I ran into Gnomes, specifically. Little Gnome houses with Gnomes inside them are strewn along the walkway along the river that makes up part of the community park. I put a photo at the bottom to show you some of what I saw. The park itself was beautiful, with an amphitheater and a community center on a sprawling patch of green beside the Juniata River. Friendly natives, good coffee, plentiful breakfast…there’s all of this plus Gnomes. If you’re on your way to or from a Penn State game, make this town a pit stop.