Inertia is a bastard. Between my trip to Liverpool and here it’s been a month of my subconscious mind finding excuses not to get out of bed or do things other than work. Which I also do from bed because I’m a writer. Finally, a Thursday ago, I ran out of reasons. The day was gorgeous; 65 degrees and sunny in the middle of November in the middle of Pennsylvania. I felt like God was prodding me to get on the road, so that’s exactly what I did.
The town of Middleburg, Pennsylvania is nestled two valleys north of the valley containing Liverpool. It’s up in Snyder county, not far off of 11/15, smack in the middle of the Pennsylvania that few travelers ever see. Warning signs for Amish buggies abound, and the mountains rise in folds around you. Is the name of this town familiar? It should be. I reviewed a coffeehouse here years ago called Middle Creek Cafe. Since then, the coffeehouse culture in Middleburg has grown. Given the proximity to the college town of Selinsgrove, this isn’t too surprising. In fact, the tendency of coffee lifeways to spread laterally to more isolated towns from ones more connected to the world at large is a theme I’ve been taking note of.
Sweet N’ Savory, also known as Brooke’s Cafe Baking and Catering, is a very recent addition to the community. They opened during what was arguably the worst time in a century to open a business: October of 2020. Yikes. The fact that they managed to not just survive but to carve out a niche alongside another coffeehouse in the same small town is impressive enough. What’s even gutsier is their expansion plan. By next summer they hope to have their patio finished and bands coming. Now, that’s the kind of relentless commitment to progress I like to see.
Here’s an interesting thing: the coffee itself seems to take a backseat here to the baked goods (which did smell rather delicious). OK, so the coffee had the familiar tang of diner fare. That’s because it was. In a certain way. My drink was a gourmet craft diner-style coffee called, quite appropriately, “Donut Coffee.” The taste can only be described as an elevated version of the kind of coffee that one usually does encounter at a donut shop. There’s little subtlety on display but plenty of boldness, leading me to think that the origin company used pure Arabica. The point of making this kind of coffee is to complement the food you’re serving without overpowering it; to let the beauty of the baking shine through while getting the taste buds charged with warm refreshment on a cold day. Yes, coffee-and-food pairings are definitely an art, just like wine and cheese. I’ll need to come back here, but with an empty stomach next time so I can see this tactic properly on display.
Stopping here was not the end of my journey today. In fact, the threatened rainstorm was holding off, so I looked at the hill to the north of me and thought: Why not? Why not continue on to the next valley and see what the coffee there is like? The sign said it was only nine miles to Mifflinburg, a larger rural town adjacent to college-town Lewisburg. Would the pattern I was starting to see hold? I’ll post my next installment in a few days. Until then, stay caffeinated.