Confession: This one is a bit outside of Harrisburg. Of course, if you live in Harrisburg, you know that most of “Harrisburg” lies outside of Harrisburg. It’s complicated. Many of us count everything south of the Kittatinny Ridge in Dauphin County as “Harrisburg.” Indeed, nothing to the west of the Susquehanna River is Harrisburg, although stuff in the middle of the river counts. Obviously. As I said, it’s complicated.
Ur turn cafe is quite a bit to the east of Harrisburg proper, in the Skyline-area outskirts on the road to the famous town of Hershey, but I’m calling it. This place is pure Harrisburg. There is a quiet but active underground of gamers in this city. We’re lucky enough to have a few good gaming and hobby shops. Then again, that really is a function of population density. Really, I have no idea what it’s like to be the only Dungeons & Dragons-loving kid in the middle of Juniata County or in the middle of Iowa. That can’t be easy. Again, I’m finding myself drawn to the exoticism of the coffeehouses now popping up in the Harrisburg area.
When I got here, the place was deserted. Well, not entirely. Co-owner Tyson was there waiting on his wife (another co-owner) to get in from Hershey. There was apparently a traffic jam of sorts up there (not surprising for Hershey). Unfortunately, the traffic had caught everyone by surprise and there wasn’t even any coffee on! Tyson offered to rectify this situation for me immediately and I gratefully accepted. That’s when he and I got to talking. The announcement for urturn cafe came out in a June 2020 issue of PennLive. Yes, he, his wife, and his brother-in-law opened this place smack dab in the middle of the worst days of the plague.
The odds were certainly against them, but today, the shop appears to be thriving. In fact, Tyson told me all about an upcoming tournament being held in the big dining room, and the poster board was laden with advertisements for upcoming sci-fi and fantasy-related events. There was also evidence of a massive kitchen. I had time to look at everything as I was waiting for my coffee. I also had time to talk to Tyson about the nerd stuff that we clearly both enjoy. After a few minutes of deep-diving into gaming, I could tell that Tyson was a true gaming geek. I don’t want to sound like a gatekeeper right now by saying “true” geek. Scratch that, I’m fine with it. Authenticity is important. If you can’t tell the difference between authentic and inauthentic, you must be a postmodernist, and you deserve an upbraiding for that alone. But I digress. This dude is authentic.
The coffee I got was Citavo’s Arabica house blend. Yes, the Sysco Citavo. Yes, the mass-produced kind. I know, I’m supposed to hate it. But I didn’t. I mean, OK, this was technically diner coffee, but at least it was a higher-end diner coffee. The owners made the effort to cull the best from the company, and that was admirable! The brewing itself was exemplary. It takes real know-how to turn a basic brew into something tasty. In this case, the saving element was that Tyson knew to brew a simple Arabica extra long in order to squeeze out the last of the flavor. A cunning move, sir! It certainly didn’t have the astringent taste of typical diner fare after that. I’m sure his coffee fuels many a long night of D&D. Or GURPS. Yeah, I like GURPS better, fight me.
So yeah, if you’re like me and enjoy everything from board games to tabletop roleplaying games, be sure to stop by this place. It’s an oasis in the middle of the vast expanse of Route 22/Jonestown Road. We’ve saved what is perhaps the most purely exotic for last. I’ll let you wonder what that might be. Until the last part of this leg, stay caffeinated.