Just try not to get run over while taking a picture in the village of East Prospect, Pennsylvania. I dare you. This little town has far more traffic than one would expect, especially given that there’s one main street and…well, not much else. OK so there’s probably a lot else actually, but I hope that my ignorance is quasi-understandable given the hurry I was in. This morning (actually the morning of September 25) was the York Pagan Pride festival, happening eight miles from this tiny burg, and looking quite out of place among the massive number of Bible churches.
Now, yours truly doesn’t follow any single religious ‘path’ per se. In fact, I consider myself an old-fashioned perennialist. That is to say, I support the idea that spiritual and moral truth is universal and thus reason can seek it out, so when multiple religions agree on a tenet, such as the golden rule, they’ve probably latched onto a deeper and more transcendent truth. Yes, this is yet another good idea that gestated in the cafes of the Enlightenment era. And so I find myself often at metaphysical festivals of all stripes, seeking fellow seekers.
But right now I was seeking something else: coffee. East Prospect houses exactly one coffeehouse: Rustic Cup. The cafe is aptly named in the extreme. The road that leads to it from the main drag in town connects only to it, a pizza shop, and a row of houses before ambling off into the rolling hills of York County. The exterior, all wood with a fading sign, didn’t seem out of place. The interior was an amazing departure.
Now, I have a theory regarding small Pennsylvania towns. They all have about a squad’s worth of progressives milling about. There’s the teacher and her husband. The town historian and his wife, the aging hippie couple who may or may not be one of the aforementioned couples, and the half-dozen emo kids, young artistic souls and meandering crust punks who hang out in the alley pretending if only for a moment that it’s somewhere off-Broadway. The owner of this shop, Chris, certainly fits the image of an artistic soul out of place (I would know) But perhaps he’s in exactly the right place. I don’t know, because I don’t know him, but the way he’s positively filled this space with creative work made me want to know him and his vision.
Turns out this is only one stop on his journey. He’s already formulating a plan to move to Red Lion when the building purchase gets settled. The current Rustic Cup is cozy but not cramped. The new place will likely have a rooftop…something. He mentioned something about music that made my ears perk up. Red Lion is closer to Harrisburg which makes me happy/sad because I love home/traveling.
The coffee itself was as innovative as the space it dwells in. The house blend was literally called House Blend and Chris informed me that it was proprietary (I didn’t needle him with more questions even though I wanted to). It tasted…proprietary! I mean, if I had come up with this blend I’d certainly keep it to myself and monetize it. Beautifully balanced is the phrase I’d use here. It was clearly (I say ‘clearly’ while going in blind, mind you) a South American coffee of some sort, having the exceptionally creamy mouthfeel of a good Latin bean. There was also an unmistakable mineral quality to it that I’m still trying to nail down. The coffee itself was roasted to order by Alabaster Coffee Roaster & Tea Company up in Williamsport, PA. Williamsport has been on my list of places to take this tour for some time, so now it looks like I have a definitive target. To Alabaster we go!
And to home, I soon went. The festival was a bit slow and I was all shopped out and hungry. When I got back I encountered the best surprise of the whole outing: My Mom had made me some of her own proprietary turkey noodle soup and just left it there warm for me. How she had known that I was thinking about soup while sitting in two traffic jams on the way into Harrisburg is something which will have to remain a mystery. At least my next coffee stop shouldn’t be a mystery: I’m planning a trip up the Susquehanna to Liverpool.