The Great Coffee Adventure: Just a wedding photographer + her coffee-enthusiast husband on an adventure through Pennsylvania; discovering, photographing and otherwise enjoying the unique, independently-owned coffeeshops and cafes of our great state. Coffee makes us happy.
When you talk to any State College resident about locally-owned coffee shops, Saint’s Cafe is without-a-doubt the first place they mention. And it’s no wonder (voted State College’s Best Gourmet Coffee for years!) . Brandon and I drive by Saint’s Cafe on our daily commute, and we’re always amazed at its popularity. People practically tumbling out the door all of the time. And so it would be Saint’s Cafe and their obvious success that determined our visiting time at 7:00 am on a Friday morning. We arrived before the place opened and were the first ones through the doors.
Saint’s Cafe is pleasing to all of the senses. Delicious coffee aromas teasing your nostrils. Big-band music with Dean Martin’s romantic voice in the background. The attention to detail & continuity throughout the decor. I would call it “understated European.” The dark green walls + various brown furnishings brings a vibe that says, cozy and comfortable, *sigh*-worthy and relaxing, work-place and meeting place.
Various seating options. This tiny-leopard print sofa tickled my fancy.
Saint’s Cafe: A Gourmet Coffeehouse.
They are gourmet, without being pretentious. When gourmet means “really good.”
Let’s talk coffee. (Brandon’s loquacious observations)
Double Espresso. Key word here is acidic. There are a couple of ways to describe acidic, in this case I mean more of a citrusy acidity. Naomi and I were conflicted on what pastry to get, but as soon as I tasted the espresso, I went and bought an iced lemon poppy-seed muffin. Because acidic coffee and tart, citrusy pastries ROCK. Here is what acidic means in the coffee world: African. Without exception, the highly acidic beans come from Africa–mostly from Kenya and Ethiopia. This wasn’t single-source; the nuttiness/cocoa undertones definitely screamed South America. So what we have here is an Africa/South American blended espresso, comprising citrusy-acidic/nutty-cocoa flavors. Smart. A little sugar really helped the citrus to stand out, as did the muffin. Probably the most unique espresso I’ve tasted thus far in Central PA.
Mocha with Orange syrup. My hat is off to Saints’ for having an orange syrup! After Starbucks took the Valencia syrup off of their shelves a few years back (I cried), it became very difficult to find a replacement (Torani doesn’t count). Since the espresso (see above^) already had undertones of citrus, it was the perfect shot to put into this mocha. The chocolate syrup is not the sweet stuff you find in a lot of places–I daresay it was the most bitter (in a good way) chocolate we’ve had. Overall, a very nice dessert coffee.
House Blend. Key word remains acidic, but the second key word is earthy. Earthy = Asian beans. This was not the same bean as the espresso^. Nothing of the sort. Whereas the espresso was acidic/nutty, the coffee was acidic/earthy. I guess the best way to describe earthy would be this: imagine going out into a freshly plowed field, and take a big whiff of nature. If that sounds weird to you, please understand that earthy is a very accepted word in the coffee taster’s vernacular, so just go with me on this one. Take that refreshing, earthy whiff and put it into your coffee. Not nearly as strong as the espresso, but incredibly balanced. The flavors stood up stupendously to milk and sugar. Again, the most unique cup of coffee I’ve had in PA. Naomi loved it, too.
Iced Lemon Poppy-seed Muffin. The main use of the muffin was to complement the 3 acidic drinks we just bought! Finding a good pairing (I dislike that word, but “when in Rome...”) for your coffee is a great way to make everything taste better. The general rule of thumb is tart pairings for African coffees, nuts/chocolate for South American, and less-sweet-more-savory (like a croissant) for Asian blends IMHO. The lemon poppy-seed muffin was great on its own, as well as a great complement to even greater coffee.
It’s Naomi here again…
We had already ordered a muffin when I noticed these foodstuffs. Red Velvet Cheesecake?! Lemon Tarts? Carrot Cake? Those signs made me drool. It’s perfectly normal to eat dessert at 7:00 am, right? *winkwink* We will be returning for additional samplings.
The fleur-de-lis is Saint’s trademark sign. And is echoed everywhere from the coffee mugs to window panes. Even though it speaks again of the Europe-in-America bent of this place, I like it simply for the continuity. I appreciate a design that shows a defined sense of style. A plan. A clear direction and well-executed theme.
Those photographers.. always catching self-portraits in the mirror.
There is local flavor everywhere. From the mix of business people dropping in for breakfast (Penn State professors, if I could make my educated guess) to college students to writers and local wedding photographers on a Great Coffee Adventure..… Saint’s Cafe is on a mission to be the best. And I was sufficiently impressed.
Do you want to visit yourself?
In the meantime, I will be longing for warm weather so I can sip my gourmet coffee at their outdoor tables.. while staring into my ridiculously handsome husband’s eyes.