Trendy Coffee Shops Near Harpers Ferry, WV (That Are Not Starbucks)
Coffee is not an indulgence for me. It’s not a way of life, either. The word that comes closest when describing my relationship with coffee is obsession. Because my town has no Starbucks, I'm forced to rely on the mercy of local coffee shops. It's fairly certain these shops aren't using Starbucks brand beans in their daily brew, either.
When I go to a coffee shop, I want to know that what I’m drinking will taste good. Actually, I’d like it to taste like as good as rainbows topped with pink swirly unicorns and fairy dust. The local convenience store’s offer of latte pre-mixed in a machine works as an in case of emergency dose, but it isn’t nearly the same as a college boy barista calling me ma’am as he blushingly hands me my frou-frou delight. Some of my favorite local places are listed below, in alphabetical order.
BEANS IN THE BELFRY
Located in nearby Brunswick, Maryland, there’s no place like Beans. I was hooked from the first moment I crossed the threshold into the building. Dating back to the early 1900’s, existing features like stained glass windows and wooden railings lend a vintage feeling while the teal green walls and purple ceiling add a funky, modern twist. Some kind of music is always playing, from Beethoven to the Beatles to the Barenaked Ladies -- and everything in between.
The area around the kitchen area and front counter display snack and gift items for sale, while an eclectic mix of reclaimed living and dining room furniture provides adequate dining and cozy conversation areas. I’ve spent many an afternoon working from the comfort of the overstuffed chair in the back corner (if you’ve been there, you know the one) while enjoying a cup of hot coffee or glass of iced tea. I’ve also enjoyed the Sunday Jazz brunch at Beans and now that they serve an assortment of alcohol (including some from local brewery and winery establishments) on the premises, I plan to visit them for dinner as well.
The food here isn’t good -- it’s divine. (Pun intended!) My favorite is the Roma Panini -- sliced Roma tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh-snipped basil served on a crusty Italian country bed with marinara dipping sauce, hot from their Panini grill. The chili isn’t bad, either. In fact, I’ve never had anything from the menu that I didn’t absolutely love, including the vanilla latte and slice of cheesecake that I enjoyed yesterday afternoon!
BERRYVILLE NEWSSTAND (aka The Stand)
With a full menu that features local produce ingredients, The Berryville Newsstand in Berryville, Virginia (Yup, where they introduced Wendy's Berry Almond Salad last summer!) offers daily specials with names tweaked to reflect the town. For instance, the Philly cheese steak becomes the Berryvilledelphia Cheese Steak Sandwich. My favorite menu item is Black Dog Coffee, roasted in Summit Point, WV. And don’t forget to buy a bag of beans to take home. Their signature DogWatch Dark Blend brews a tasteful cup through my Keurig’s reusable filter.
In addition to fare made on the premises, they also sell products from local businesses to accompany menu items like Route 11 Potato Chips fried in Mount Jackson, Virginia and Life Truffles, handmade in nearby Bluemont, Virginia. Inside the newsstand customers can expect friendly service and pleasant attitudes. Artwork includes pieces created by students from the local elementary school. Customers can purchase both local and out-of-town newspapers, as well as the latest copy of Mother Earth News.
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
LOST DOG COFFEE
Whether a student at a Shepherd University, visitor to the area, or resident of historic Shepherdstown, West Virginia if you’re looking for either a great mug of java or a soothing cup of hot tea look no farther than Lost Dog Coffee. Music greets patrons, often something Indie, jazz, or classical. The decor is both odd and interesting, featuring works of local artists -- from somewhat traditional acrylic paintings to funky sculpture created from things like doll heads and vintage record players. Family-friendly, there are plenty of children’s books and toys to keep little ones amused while parents enjoy the bottomless menu of drink selections.
Other personal touches add to the ambiance inside Lost Dog Coffee. Handwritten descriptions from the owner accompany each type of brew and are, as one customer phrased it, “filled with poetry and hte hyperbolic enthusiasm of the true fanatic....” Unlike the McDonalds down the street, the cafe lacks wifi, but the McDonalds can’t make you a Vanilla Wet Dog, a type of espresso cream spritzer. (The owner claims people have had dreams about it!) Unlike other companies that use a concentrate, Lost Dog’s chai tea is produced by hand via a 12-hour cooking process.
Supporting the fair trade market, Lost Dog buys coffee beans from micro-roasters. Their tea comes from villages across China. Interacting with a Fair Trade Cooperative helps provide these villages with things like doctors, hospitals, education tuition for students, and miles upon miles of newly developed roads. Fair Trade funds also ensure things like healthy drinking water and irrigation for tea crops. When Lost Dog fixes you a cup of coffee, you aren’t just buying a drink -- you’re aiding a cause that helps improve living conditions for people halfway around the world.
No Starbucks? No problem!
As you can see, I manage to do quite well living in a town with no Starbucks. While Beans in the Belfry and Jumpin Java are without a doubt my favorites, the other coffee shops discussed are also worth a visit. I hope if you're in the area, you'll try them, too! Also, please leave a note in the comments below -- especially if you've visited any of these, or know of any others not mentioned here.