Swatara Coffee Company

01 Jan

If there was ever a time when Central Pennsylvania needed hot liquids, it’s now. We’re in the middle of a massive cold spell, and most people I know are beginning to hibernate for the year if they weren’t doing so already. Even a party I went to for New Years Eve Eve on Saturday night was slow, as people trickled in wearing more fur than finery. Not so I. When the weather gets cold (which I don’t like too much), I tend to do little things in defiance of the conditions. One of those things was a road trip out Jonestown Road to Jonestown itself to sample a new coffeehouse that just recently opened its doors.

One thing that’s pretty inescapable to the sensitive eye is the difference between traveling west of Harrisburg and traveling east. Traveling west or directly north leads you into the mountains and valleys of Appalachia and the unmistakable off-the-grid traditionalism that the region is famous for. Traveling to the east, you start shading into Yankeedom and the culture changes to one of small towns that are more trusting of strangers, more open to the outside world, and more likely to place a priority on local art, shifting cultures, and civic development. It’s that culture that is fertile ground for coffeehouses here, just as it was in Europe. I’ll post more about that later; for now, suffice it to say that eastern Dauphin county is a great place to road-trip.

Swatara Coffee Company was begun last November by Navy man John Noll and his wife Joanna Guldin-Noll and has become quite a community fixture since that if the line behind me was any indication. It was Joanna who greeted me with a warm welcome when I walked in from the frigid street bleary-eyed from a long drive with zero caffeine. In fact most of the people here seemed like a congenial bunch.

The coffee I got was a Guatemala Antigua. Now, this particular kind of coffee has words like “complex nuance”, “gentle”, and “light body” associated with them. This fit the archetypes well, being downright airy in the mouth. That’s the makings of a good breakfast blend of course. This particular one did have a bit of the characteristic thinness that can happen with lighter roasts, but only a bit, and that was made up for by the smooth mouthfeel that made me practically inhale the coffee. Honestly, this was a great breakfast coffee and I will be returning for more the next time I venture east.

Something else here that impressed me: the hours. Oh, am I ever disappointed by coffeehouse hours in general. So many cafes have downright wonky hours, either focusing only on the breakfast rush or the later afternoon loungers. I know, I know, coffeehouses have budgets, it takes money to run a business, and so on and so forth. It’s still annoying. Swatara however has wonderful hours; typically 6 am to 8 pm on a weekday.  They even extended their hours for the Christmas tree lighting in the square. Well done there with the whole “convenience” thing, Swatara!

I’m glad I braved the frigid temperatures to come out here. It’s something I have to do more often in the winter, especially if the reward is a picture-book small town like Jonestown. I’m in no way one of those people who believes that “the journey is the destination.” No, I gotta believe that there’s something truly cool over the horizon to justify getting out of bed. Swatara Coffee Co. is good justification for sure.



the sign…


the list…


the welcome…


the view…


the tree…


the town…



Leave a comment

Posted by on January 1, 2018 in Uncategorized


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: