After getting my fill of Rich Coast fare, it was time to head out to Lewistown proper. The two coffee shops I wanted to visit were mercifully both on the same street. It’s a testament to the strength of the coffee culture here that two coffee shops are able to occupy not only the same street but the same stretch of the street without knocking each other out of business. I decided not to chance parking on Main Street itself and instead chose an adjacent street that was already pointed back to the highway. That would end up being a good decision. The first truth of Lewistown that I discovered was that parking was five cents for an hour. Coming from Harrisburg where it’s a quarter per 15 minutes, that was a pleasant surprise.
The coffeehouse I walked to first was called East End Coffee Company. That’s not just a name, they do roast their own proprietary coffee. More on that later. Getting here was enough of an adventure. It turns out that Google Maps doesn’t understand Lewistown very well, especially not the fact that the buildings in the downtown square are mostly stuck together into one large edifice. It took a few tries, but I finally found the storefront a few hundred feet from where good ol’ Google promised it was.
It certainly looks like art matters here. The shop has the “vibe” of a community art center, and indeed there is regular activity here in that regard. I’m talking about the big “E” word: Events. I take them wherever I can find them, and you can find them here every first Friday of the month. On those days, a local musician typically comes to perform. On April 1st, a fellow named Tim Dunmire who performs at local churches will be playing. That’s another thing; even though there were no overt signs of religiosity in the coffeehouse itself, it’s clear that being churchgoing folk is just kind of a given up here in Mifflin County. That’s another contrast to Harrisburg. As cosmopolitan as the town is becoming in terms of visitors, the guiding ideals of it are clearly still small-town Pennsylvania.
As for the coffee, what’s the one, specific kind of coffee I never like to have? The one that just isn’t my style at all? If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know. I’m really not a fan of the citrus-flavored fare typical of Africa. I appreciate the art, but it’s just not my personal preference. This roaster broke that streak with their Rwanda Misozi Kopakaki (try saying that three times fast). The label read “exceptionally sweet with big fruit notes.” Bingo on all counts, and it’s a dang good thing that they miraculously managed to balance the two. That is the culinary equivalent of a high-wire act, and East End absolutely nailed it. The citrus flavor was much stronger than I thought I’d enjoy, but there was a richness to the bean taste itself that melded the citrus seamlessly into it. It imparted an acidity without leaving me feeling like I was guzzling orange juice, which is what the label had me afraid of. It’s unique offerings like this that keep me energized for these small, local coffee scenes.
It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t the only storefront East End has. There’s another one in Reedsville. That’s pretty close to Lewistown since it’s still in Mifflin County. I might check it out if I have a chance, but the rest of the Alleghenies region comes first.
And with that, we’re heading down the street exactly one and a half blocks to the next coffeehouse of interest: The Square Cafe and Bakery. I’ll be posting that update in a few days and including some last-minute notes about the area as a whole. Until next time, stay caffeinated.