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5 Local Coffee Shops to Try this Winter

by Megan Waardenburg

Coffee is great all year round, but winter is the best time to visit local shops in the area. Winter allows for more seasonal coffee and a better atmosphere in each shop. Central PA is home to tons of high quality shops, but the ones listed below are the ones I most highly recommend.

The Midtown Scholar ($) Midtown Harrisburg

The Midtown Scholar used to be a movie theater in the 1920’s, but has since been renovated into a bookstore-coffeehouse hybrid. Located across from the Broad Street Market, it’s not difficult to get to the shop. Inside, there are shelves upon shelves of books ranging from Renaissance art to philosophy to media or film. Regardless of your interests, you’re guaranteed to find a book you can spend a few hours with. There are multiple levels of books, interesting artwork, and of course, wonderful coffee. The coffee and tea are all organic, and though there is not as much variety as many of the other coffee shops listed, it’s definitely high quality. If you’re looking for a shops to study at, this is the perfect option. The shop also hosts poetry readings, book clubs, meet ups, and other events you may be interested in if you’re a coffee shop dweller.

You will like this coffee shop if: you love books (which why wouldn’t you?), quiet jazz music, organic coffee and tea, and meeting other book and coffee lovers.

What I recommend: Chai Latte

Little Amps Coffee Roasters ($$) One in Uptown Harrisburg, Two Downtown

There are three different Little Amps locations: one on Green Street, one on State Street, and the other on Strawberry Square. The shop is focused on the cultivation of the coffee beans, making for fresh tasting coffee. Each of the locations has a distinct classic coffeehouse atmosphere, as well as amazing coffee. Each shop sells coffee beans to bring home for people who prefer to drink from home. Music enthusiasts can also buy vinyl records at the shops.

You will like this coffee shop if: you like vintage things, simplistic study spaces, and natural tasting coffee, and a generally aesthetically pleasing environment.

What I recommend: Uptown Ginger Brown

Juice and Java ($$) Mechanicsburg

Juice and Java, formerly known as Smoothie Joe’s, is a casual cafe focusing on serving fresh food and beverages. This shop is a great place to look at local art or use the computers available to catch up on some homework. Since the cafe is not necessarily a quiet place, it’s the perfect place to meet with friends or a study group without disrupting anyone else’s quiet.

You will like this coffee shop if: you like upbeat music, noisy cafes, drinks other than coffee, a variety in food options, and a relaxed, casual atmosphere.  

What I recommend: Strawberry Colada Smoothie (not coffee, but I promise it won’t disappoint)

Game Table Cafe ($) Mechanicsburg

In an age of technology, we have forgotten the enjoyment of board games. The Game Table Cafe is devoted to providing an environment to gather with friends around a game to learn new games and interact with other people. The cafe focuses on serving local and fresh food from full meals to coffee. Most days there are events or competitions for people who want to meet with other game enthusiasts. The workers are experts on nearly every game available, and can teach you how to play. If you’re looking for a cafe to unwind with friends and have some social time, this is the cafe to go to.

You will like this coffee shop if: you like more energetic environments, playing board or card games, fresh local food, and a vibrant setting.

What I recommend: Hazelnut Latte

Caffe 101 ($$) Boiling Springs

Right beside the Boiling Springs Clock Tower and Children’s Lake, the environment of the cafe is relaxing and is a great place to watch nature while you enjoy your coffee. Before winter comes, people like to feed the ducks by the lake, which is an event in itself. The coffee options are not as abundant as some others, but it is just as high quality. As one of the less urban coffee shops, this cafe is a peaceful place to study or to have some quiet time to yourself.

You will like this coffee shop if: you like quiet shops, nature surroundings, and small town independent businesses.

What I recommend: Mexican Spiced Cocoa

Whenever you find yourself wanting to get out of the house or to find coffee better than what you can make in the Keurig, try supporting local shops by going out to visit. Coffee shops can help you study, meet friends, or even just relax, especially during the winter months, so next time you’re looking for a nice place to go, try branching out from the closest Starbucks, and give some small shops a try.

Image by Megan Waardenburg