Monthly Archives: January 2022

Little Addy’s Cafe

With Elysburg in the rearview, I started on the last leg of this whirlwind tour of the Valleys’ coffee scene. Well, most of it. Actually, I didn’t get to a few of the places that I wanted to, but that was a function of timing. No, not the timing of the impending storm, the timing of the hours of the coffeehouses themselves. All told, more than a few had truly bizarre hours, or at least they were advertising as much. The Grindstone, for example, sounded awesome, but it was only open Wednesday through Friday, 8 AM to 11 AM. Hard to tell if it’s a function of safety regulations, a weird hiring market, or a lack of demand. It could honestly be the latter; after all, as we’ve seen before, this is a land in transition and a coffee culture that’s just beginning to find its footing in a growing and changing landscape.

When I pulled out of Elysburg and headed towards Sunbury, I passed through a few other small towns and villages on the way. I just recently learned that one of those towns (Paxinos, which you’ll see below) was home to some of the first members of my family to settle in Pennsylvania, back in the mid-to-late 1700s. No matter how small the towns are here, there is always an amazing amount of history. There isn’t, however, an amazing amount of coffee, at least not the kind of shops we’re looking for on this journey. Dunkin Donuts and diners rule the day here. Some of the non-college towns are actually shrinking as more young people head to the cities looking for work and adventure.

Sunbury is one of those shrinking towns, unfortunately. However, it’s also growing in many ways. The population is decreasing, but the people still here might be of a changing character. As I drove through the center of town, I was struck by the number of head shops and other places catering to a more bohemian set than one would expect in the center of Amish country. Oh, they had euphemistic names of course. Specialty glass, metaphysical shop, CBD oil. Wink wink. The point is that the attitude on the counterculture seems to be changing. Or perhaps it’s that, in a town of fewer than ten thousand people with farms all around, the free spirits really do stick out more. Maybe they want to stick out more.

Anyhow, on to the coffeehouse. I trudged down the ice-rimed streets to Little Addy’s, a cafe built into one of the rowhome-style buildings in the bustling downtown. It was really cozy, and I was immediately greeted by Addy herself. I asked a barrage of questions about the place. She was only too happy to answer. This venue was, like the entire area…in transition. She said that over the next few months they planned to move the coffeehouse from its current abode to a nearby space with around three times the square footage. From 900 to 2600 I think she said. Now that’s progress! I asked Addy if there were any plans for live music (keeping my fingers crossed invisibly) and she said yes. Once again, a return trip to this area in the near future is in order.

The coffee she gave me was a single-origin Nicaraguan, courtesy of Stockton Graham & Co., a specialty wholesaler out of Raleigh, North Carolina. Now, this was one that I unquestionably liked. It behooves a taster to grow to appreciate the art of coffees they wouldn’t personally purchase, but this one I would definitely get again. It had exactly what I look for in a ‘normal’ Central American roast: that rich, nutty-but-not-earthy quality and buttery consistency. If anyone out there has been to Stockton Graham & Co. I’d appreciate any feedback on your experiences with the brand.

And with that, I headed out as the first cirrus heralds of tomorrow’s storm began to filter into the afternoon sky. On the way back to Harrisburg, I whizzed past another coffeehouse that I’d visited a few years ago before I dedicated myself to doing an actual, systematic tour of the Valleys area. It’s called Eagle’s Wind. Really beautiful place, located right on the Golden Strip outside Sunbury, where many years ago young people drag-raced up and down the empty road which is now crammed with traffic headed north and south. My next mission will be to head west into the Allegheny Mountains. I’ve only been up there for coffee once, to the Guante Cafe in Millerstown. Next month, I plan to go a little farther afield. Until then, stay caffeinated!


the mountains beyond Paxinos…

the signage…

the interior…

the nomenclature…

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Posted by on January 29, 2022 in Uncategorized


Profile Coffee and Roasters, Inc.

I woke up this morning (January 19th) riddled with anxiety. I knew it was now or never to begin Leg Two of the Valleys of the Susquehanna journey that I’d started before the holiday craziness. Pennsylvania had just been pummeled by one winter storm and the electronic signs on the freeway were already blinking: Winter Weather Advisory Thursday AM, Plan Travel Accordingly. So today it would be. A gorgeous, blue Wednesday sandwiched in between the storms.

We’ll be starting things off in the little town in Elysburg, home to my cousin, a radio station, and not much else. It’s not technically a town, being officially termed a “census-designated place.” There’s the awesome Knoebel’s Grove Amusement Park nearby, which is what everyone around these parts associates with Elysburg. The town itself sits in the middle of a lush valley just south of the eastern branch of the Susquehanna River. The river forks just north of Sunbury to the west, which makes this whole area the heart of the Valleys region. Beautiful, bucolic…and as we saw last month, full of burgeoning college towns. Bloomsburg University, in fact, is less than ten miles from Elysburg itself. I’d go so far as to call “college” an industry in this area. It’s populated enough to be convenient but isolated enough to be peaceful. I hope that’s a balance that lasts.

There is also coffee here, and good coffee at that. The name of the cafe I decided up was itself impressive: Profile Coffee and Roasters, Inc. Sounds artistic. Understand, Elysburg is a town without a downtown, or at least without much of one. I’d expected townhouses and clustered shops, but it’s really quite spread out like an old Appalachian holler often is. People here are farmers and workers, not college kids and hipsters. Profile sticks out like a sore thumb. It actually feels like the nucleus of what could one day become a downtown. It embodies “downtownness,” from the funky lettering on the stately brick edifice, to the advertisement of its commitment to LGBT rights displayed on its Google Maps offering. There’s intent here. Intent to make this business a center of something.

As a matter of fact, progress was very much on display inside the shop. I came at an inauspicious moment; the common room was in a state of disarray, and as I was standing at the counter, an elderly chap put one hand on each of my arms and shuffled me out of the way before an incoming stainless-steel counter on the move could flatten me. They’re obviously scaling up. They seemed surprised that someone even had the poor timing to stop by in the middle of this. Being caught off guard didn’t dampen their hospitality one bit, however, and I was quickly given a fresh brew.

The coffee I got was Brazilian. Now, Brazilian coffees are often known for their unique flavors and low acidity. The good thing about low acidity coffee is that it has a smooth finish. It also tends to be described as “bright,” and that’s how I’d describe this particular roast. Low-acid coffees also lean towards being slightly bitter, and this one was, but not on the level of an ultra-bitter robusta. That’s oftentimes the “bitter diner coffee” that I whine about. No, this bitterness was dialed back by an almost airy quality. Really, when I used the word “bright” before I was right on track. This was a lovely breakfast blend. You can tell immediately that it’s a local roaster since the flavor palette is unlike the more common blends used at the restaurants in the surrounding countryside. Again, a charming morning cup. I couldn’t get any more information because, well…it was sheer chaos in there. I’ll have to follow up.

Here’s something else about Profile and Elysburg that struck me: They are another study in contradictions like the towns in the western valleys. The folks doing the renovations inside were fascinating; one was clearly a non-conformist, while another proudly displayed a “Blue Lives Matter” t-shirt. And they weren’t trying to strangle each other. How fitting that this cosmopolitan crowd would come together in a coffeehouse! Again, this Enlightenment-era institution comes through as a force for civility. Civil respect is more common than you might think around here in these polarized times. At worst, a look askance and a “bless your heart” are far more common than genuine bigotry in the Pennsylvania countryside. The reasons that people vote the way they do are actually nuanced and complicated, but one would never guess that by scrolling through the feed on one’s computer screen. That’s why travel is good. It’s not about getting out of the house. It’s about getting out of yourself.

And with that, I’m heading down the road to Sunbury. If Williamsport is the informal “capital’ of the Pennsylvania Wilds region, Sunbury is undoubtedly the same for the Valleys area. Oh yes, we’ll be going to the Wilds eventually, but for now, we’re headed to the ancestral homeland of my family and the cultural center of Northumberland County. I’ll be posting that in a few days. Until then, stay caffeinated.


the building…

the entrance…

the copious shelving…

the scrabble…

the town center…

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Posted by on January 24, 2022 in Uncategorized