Sherman’s Valley Coffee Co.

14 Feb

There’s a bit of a debate here. According to the official Pennsylvania visitors maps, the region called “The Alleghenies” is defined by counties. A separate map that I saved from another visitor’s site showed much the same, but without the county lines. Where exactly does “The Alleghenies” region begin? Perry County, the southernmost “official” county, is bordered on its north by a long lump of a ridge. Demographically speaking, mountains make better borders than anything. So if a region is defined by its human element, then things become more clear. The Alleghenies start just right there.

But what about the borderlands? What of the people who make their homes just a few miles on the other side of the border? Well, you often find a hybrid of the two ways of life on either side. That’s indeed what Sherman’s Valley holds. The town of New Bloomfield, the seat of Perry County, lies right in this borderland. I’ve sampled the coffee here before in a few earlier posts, but I didn’t go further afield than the town itself. Venturing out into the countryside produced a different result. See, this area belongs to two worlds: The world of the mountains that rise up to the center of the state, and the valleys that house the largest and oldest Amish communities in the world. It’s part Lancaster and part Penn State. And in a way, that makes this area as Pennsylvania as it gets. That also makes it the perfect start for this leg of the Journey.

I have a confession to make right here and now: There is no coffeehouse here. There is only a coffee roaster run out of somebody’s abode. I had to order the coffee online. Amazingly it arrived within a day and a half without me even expediting the order. The coffee is, in fact, roasted on the same day it’s shipped. More on that later. Instead, I saw what looked like a farmhouse on Google Maps that was labeled with the company name and decided to track it down. It was indeed a farmhouse, as evidenced by the random chickens in the driveway. I drove by and snapped some pictures; since this is clearly someone’s house I didn’t feel right just barging in. Driving past the house taking pictures is much less sketchy.

The coffee itself was a Papua New Guinea Vienna dark roast. Vienna roasts have a deeper color than most American ones. It’s typically a longer roast, and this can be seen in the little spots of oil that tend to accumulate on the bean. If this sounds like it’s adding up to a bold flavor, you’d be right. There was a bold aroma too. That’s actually an understatement; I could smell the coffee right through the yellow packing envelope. Papua New Guinea coffees are known for being full-bodied, and some even use that nebulous word “earthy” to describe them. The roast and source magnified each other perfectly in this case and made for a powerhouse cup of coffee.

Once again, I’ve ended up singing the praises of a small, independent roasting company in the middle of the countryside. It really does remind me of Appalachian Mountain Coffee located up in Snyder County owned by Merle and Linda Zimmerman. Could this place be vying for third? Absolutely. Let’s do the tally so far: St. Thomas Roasters in Harrisburg is my current favorite (owing to its refined flavors), followed closely by Appalachian Mountain (for its succulence and wildly imaginative palette). Interesting that they’re all roasters that have next to zero notoriety for being coffee mavericks. Let’s change that, shall we, readers?

After doing my stalkerish drive-by of Sherman’s Valley Coffee, I thought I’d be remiss if I didn’t also visit the nearest town. That would be Elliotsburg, a village on the way to the town of Blain (which is known for its awesome hippie music festivals). Sherman’s Valley is itself a long stretch of farmland in between two sets of rolling, forested hills. Endless country roads that might as well be boasting to the world “Yeah, we make literally all of your food.” That’s something worth appreciating. New Bloomfield is like Elliotsburg writ large. It’s a practical, working-class town of farmers and the industries that support them. Unlike New Bloomfield, there are no fancy cafes or government buildings. There is, however, a local art establishment of some kind called “1892 unrefined.” Now that sounds promising.

Next stop: Nook. I’m not surprised if you haven’t heard of it. It’s a tiny town situated snugly at the end of a long valley to the west of Mifflintown, PA. Unlike Elliotsburg and New Bloomfield, it’s indisputably part of the Allegheny Mountains region. Until that time, stay caffeinated!

the roast…

the roaster…

the aforementioned chickens…
















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Posted by on February 14, 2022 in Uncategorized


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