Wherever I travel, I always seek out great coffee. Edward Harris, the president and CEO of Discover Lancaster, tells me I am not alone in this practice. We recently chatted over an Americano and an iced drink at a local coffee shop so I could learn more about one of the marketing organization’s newest offerings, the Lancaster County Coffee Trail.
“We have an unusual amount of unique coffee shops spread out across the county,” says Edward of Discover Lancaster’s goal to make the county known as a coffee destination. “We wanted to develop a new innovative way for people to find out about these places. That’s where this mobile trail was born.”
Since its launch in late 2022, approximately 2,000 people have traveled the coffee trail. Participation is easy and starts by downloading a pass from discoverlancaster.com/planvisit/experience-passes/coffee-trail via any mobile phone. A passport is immediately sent via text message, which can be saved to the home screen. The passport lists all coffee shops on the trail and selecting a certain business brings up a screen with links to a phone number, website, hours and mapped location if needed. Hitting the Check-In button will access the phone’s location services and mark a customer present.
After visiting five stops, coffee trekkers earn a coffee trail sticker and coaster, at 10 stops a mug and at 15 stops a logoed canvas bag, all of which can be picked up at the Discover Lancaster Visitors Center, located at 501 Greenfield Road. “We are looking to attract more people to our visitors center,” Edward explains.
“So far, people who have participated have really enjoyed the trail,” he remarks. “There are some die-hard coffee fans out there and they love going around and checking out places they haven’t been to. And, when they go to these new places, they learn about other areas of Lancaster County they may not have been as familiar with before.”
Discover Lancaster developed the trail with destination technology experts Bandwango, and Edward says the coffee trail will not be the last of its kind in Lancaster County. True to his word, Discover Lancaster unveiled the Lancaster County Ice Cream Trail in early May. Consisting of nearly two-dozen stops, the trail is modeled on the passport app that the coffee trail utilizes. I’m hoping they will consider trails for beer and produce stands. But, I digress …
One of my favorite perks about the coffee trail is how most shops offer discounts or free items for checking in. For example, La Mattina Caffe, the new coffee spot at The Inn at Leola Village, offers a BOGO delicious beverage. Coffee Co. Lancaster offers 15% off the entire check. In Refton, BrickHouse Coffee & Kitchen provides a free 12-oz. coffee after the purchase of a pastry item.
“We are tasked with making a visitor’s experience better,” says Edward. “And this is one of those ways.”
Since this is the pet issue, I wanted to highlight a few coffee-trail businesses allowing – and in some cases encouraging – your pupper to join you for coffee. I quickly compared the coffee trail to results from bringfido.com and petswelcome.com, which offer insights into which U.S. coffee shops (and other restaurants) are dog-friendly (bringfido.com locations are rated on a score of 1 to 5 bones). I found there are many stops on the Lancaster County Coffee Trail welcoming canine visitors. By the way, Discover Lancaster also has a pet-friendly section on its website: discoverlancaster.com/blog/pet-friendly-lancaster-pa.
Here are just a few pet-friendly coffee destinations:
SPECKLED HEN COFFEE
This family-friendly café along Main Street in Strasburg is also dog-friendly. Speckled Hen owners, Ryan and Janae Dagen, supply the patio with water bowls for their furry visitors and provide human guests with food – and coffee – from local purveyors. Coffee served here is sourced from Passenger Coffee. In addition, the café serves all the expected espresso beverages. While I often opt for an Americano, the most intriguing specialty drink on the current menu is the blueberry white mocha.
141 E. Main St., Strasburg, speckledhencoffee.com
JAVATEAS GOURMET COFFEE CAFé
Before my daughter could drive, I spent time at Javateas waiting for her to finish rehearsals and shows at Ephrata Performing Arts Center. I would sit with my laptop and punch out columns like this one. If I had a dog at the time, I could have brought him or her along and spent a nice afternoon out front while enjoying one of their creative seasonal coffee drinks. FYI, it is pronounced jah-VAH-teas, not JAVA-teas.
1 Dutchland Ave., Ephrata, javateas.com
SQUARE ONE COFFEE ROASTERS
Square One is the OG of Lancaster coffee. Before hipsters were hip, when most coffee was bought at convenience stores, a little shop on North Duke Street dared to introduce drinkers to concepts such as fair-trade, sustainability and flavor. Roasted, served and sold in Lancaster, SQ1 coffee is available all over the county. Dogs are welcome on the back patio, which is by far one of my favorite places to relax and enjoy conversation and coffee – enter through the back, off East Chestnut Street.
145 N. Duke St., Lancaster, squareonecoffee.com
CORNER COFFEE SHOP
Square One beans are served outside the city at Corner Coffee Shop. Located in Smucker Village in Intercourse, Corner Coffee Shop has some devoted patrons who love the PA Dutch Country-themed eatery’s cold and iced espresso drinks. A popular signature drink is the Sweet Bee latte made with real honey and vanilla, which is available iced or hot. Dogs and their owners can enjoy people-watching from the outdoor patio along Old Philadelphia Pike.
3526 Old Philadelphia Pike, Intercourse, facebook.com/cornercoffeeshop
RACHEL’S CAFÉ & CREPERIE
When Rachel’s relocated from North Queen Street to West Walnut Street, the move allowed ample outdoor seating for Lancaster’s first crepe staple. Doggos can dine alfresco with their human counterparts at the full-service, first-come, first-served outdoor pavilion. Rachel’s serves fresh and sustainable coffee roasted by Lonely Monk Coffees, using the newly popularized fluid bed roaster. Rachel’s offers some unique Nutella drinks, as well as a good golden latte.
201 W. Walnut St., Lancaster, rachelscreperie.com
CAFÉ ONE EIGHT
Café One Eight has a couple outdoor seats along West Orange Street, where dog people can sit to enjoy a cup of coffee. The café has sourced local goods since opening in 2011; breads come from Thom’s, macarons are from Tara’s Treats and the coffee is roasted by Square One. New owners Anthony Vega and Demi Smeltzer took over the thriving shop in 2022. In-house coffee is bottomless.
18 W. Orange St., Lancaster, cafe1eight.com
Some of my most notable coffee finds while traveling have been:
Joe & The Juice – I first discovered this European coffee chain while in Iceland. Now there are locations in New York, Washington, D.C., and one in Pittsburgh!
Scratch Biscuit Company – Even though it is all about biscuits in this Roanoke, Virginia, eatery, the coffee is amazing, especially the Grelen Gold blend.
Café de l’industrie – Okay, it is hard to find bad coffee in Paris, but this place ticks the boxes I want to hit when I travel: off the beaten path, full of locals, authentic and affordable.