I’m a little late with this one. This coffee mission was actually run back in the last week of April, soon after my last post was made. I was working a lot for the month afterwards, for my parents, not my boss, helping to get the family home ready for springtime. If you notice, there are no leaves on the trees in any of these pictures. That was before the heat wave that brought us the change from winter to summer within the span of a single week. Remember sweater weather? Yeah, neither do I.
This coffeehouse I visited, The Quarry, was actually on the road to Shippensburg, in the town of Carlisle. Anyone familiar with it will know it as the home of Dickenson College, and the coffeehouse itself is located right on the outskirts of the college. I came on an auspicious weekend; it was the annual spring festival that the college has during finals time, when parents and other loved ones are invited to campus. Obviously, a parking calamity ensued. After doubling back and again several times in search of a parking spot, making U-turns and dodging cops, I finally was able to get on foot and head to the cafe.
It was not what I expected. Far from being just an afterthought in an building purposed for some other use, this coffeehouse was not only a standalone building, but a rather gorgeous stone one. Built in the same style as the rest of Dickenson (grey stone, nods to the Colonial style), it reminded me more of an old mill than a quarry. This lent itself well to an interior filled with the kind of nooks and crannies in which a student cramming for finals could find a bit of solace. This was a good thing, given the bustling agora-like feeling of the first floor. A necessary sin considering the volume of students they serve! All right, all right, perhaps I shouldn’t call it a sin, though I do prefer my coffeehouses on the dark-and-cozy side.
As an aside, being a member of Generation X, I’ll never fully get used to the sight of free computers amidst the books of a study room. Ah well, such is the march of time. I decided not to stick around for too long and read as I wasn’t entirely sure that I was legally parked, so I grabbed an armload of coffee and headed out quickly.
The coffee was of a brand I’d never heard of before: Sun Coffee Roasters out of Connecticut. I tried two different coffees this time, juggling them and a few fliers and a bottled water as I made my way back to the car. The first item was their house blend of course, but the second was a thing called Mazagran. It was some kind of iced coffee with honey added. The house blend was called “Old West” and was an Indonesian single-origin coffee. It was quite earthy and as full-bodied as advertised. I like a bold, rich coffee and this fit the bill nicely indeed. Definitely a keeper. The Mazagran…well, I’m not an iced-coffee person to begin with, and this was a bit too sweet for my palette. However, if you like coffees based on sugary, alcoholic beverages (and many do like a nice Kahlua), then you should certainly sample this one.
It’s great to see new and ambitious coffeehouses like this springing up along the road I’ve traveled for so long. Truly a treat to see places like Carlisle and Shippensburg go from being towns with colleges in them to what we think of as a true college town. In the beginning of this blog I made some mention of what I feel is the philosophy behind “coffeehouse culture.” In short, it’s the notion of the coffeehouse as nexus point for the gathering of knowledge, engaging is cultural criticism, and coming together as persons. Places like The Quarry are obviously going the extra mile to be that wonderful thing. May there be more of them on the next road.