By Madison Pontz
IN MY EXPERIENCE, there are a handful things that Lancastrians do better than anyone else in the world: frequenting new restaurants, supporting small galleries and local artists, and… drinking coffee. Buckets and buckets of coffee.
When I lived in other cities (both in the U.S. and abroad) there were always plenty of things that I missed about Lancaster. But my first stop on any visit home is always to one of our many local coffee shops. There is truly a perfect fitting vibe, flavor profile, and destination for any sort of coffee lover (even, like… tea lovers) in downtown Lancaster. FLL set out with the (obviously very difficult and very demanding) job of tasting them all for you — and we’ve compiled that guide right here. Enjoy part 1 of our Coffee Lover’s Guide to Lancaster! (Okay, but trust us from experience: take it easy on the caffeine.)
Does it even count as a full coffee tour of Lancaster if you don’t visit Passenger Coffee and post a photo of your visit on Instagram? This is certainly only of the most aesthetically pleasing spots in downtown Lancaster — coffee shop or otherwise. You might be tempted to think that because the space is so beautiful, the coffee is an afterthought; that is 100-percent untrue in Passenger’s case. In fact, they take their coffee very seriously. Like, very seriously. Passenger roasts its own coffee — all ethically sourced — and encourages visitors to think of their West King Street location as a showroom for the products of the roastery, rather than as simply a café. Stop by just to take a moment for yourself; one particularly cool aspect of Passenger’s place in the Lancaster coffee scene is that they do pour-over, which builds in some extra time for rest and reflection before you enjoy a mug of super high quality, specialty, small batch roast. Also: their bags of roasted coffee make excellent gifts for the far-away coffee lovers in your life.
Just around the corner, you’ll find a classic in the Lancaster coffee shop world: Prince Street Cafe. Established in 2006, Prince Street feels like an institution. From early morning business meetings to low-key nights out for local college students, it has always felt that there’s something for everyone in this rustic space. For fans of the Passenger roast who are also looking for a full meal alongside your cup o’ joe, Prince Street Cafe is an excellent choice, as they serve Passenger Coffee, as well as plenty of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. I fully endorse their delicious fruit and yogurt parfait — what makes it so special is that they use baked oatmeal instead of granola, and it is SO GOOD.
If you find yourself on the campus of Franklin & Marshall and are looking for a quick cup, head over to Blue Line, which opened recently in the summer of 2017. They serve Passenger roast, as well as Passenger’s full drink menu and a variety of sandwiches. Also on the menu? Delicious takes on some trendier, health-conscious foods, like acai bowls and matcha tea. Blue Line is like the sort of ultra cool, yet super friendly coffee shop you always saw on campuses in college movies, and yet— it’s real and right here in Lancaster. AND, the students are so welcoming that you won’t even feel weird about being maybe a bit older than some of the clientele.
If you’re looking for a great place to spend some time while your nurse your caffeinated beverage of choice, head over to Mean Cup’s central location on Harrisburg Pike. Plenty of space means that you never feel crowded or rushed. This cafe is the perfect place to enjoy anything from a simple cup of coffee (they brew Chauvin Coffee, from a roastery located in St. Louis) to something a little fancier, like the Meanie Mocha (a slightly spicy take on the traditional chocolate and espresso combo). If you like a little spice in your life, check out their similarly named — and super popular — Meanie brownie. You can also find Mean Cup at their Central Market stand, a great place to grab a drink before your weekly shopping trip.