The Tuesday Noon Coffee and a Movie Philosophical Society meets here, as does a Wednesday night knitting club. During the day, shoppers stop by for conversation and a cup of joe.
“Here” is Merlin’s Coffee, at the far end of a short alley at the Outlet Shoppes, on the outskirts of Gettysburg. Sometimes called by customers “the cat house;” owners Donna and Eric Burns, of Hanover, are deeply invested in rescuing cats, have named the business for one of the animals, and have decorated the interior with cat art and knick-knacks. All their employees agree to allow Eric and Donna to donate the tips to animal rescue efforts.
Several of the coffees – all organic, and all purchased as green beans to be roasted in-house – are named for cat’s the Burns have rescued. Among them are Thor’s Hammer, Merlin’s Magical Mix ( in caf and decaf), Munchie’s Morning Blend, and Calli’s Crazy Blend.
Other flavors’ are named for famous gangsters – Big Al’s (Capone) Bootleg Batch – and literary figures including Shakespeare’s Literary Blend. And there are some more recognizable monikers, among them Italian Roasted Colombian, Italian Roasted Sumatran, Hazelnut, and Chocolate Raspberry.
The Gettysburg shop also is the only such establishment in the area offering loose tea – black tea, green tea, organic tea, caffeine-free tea and flavored tea – some with exotic place names, such as Russian Caravan, Lapsang Souchoung, and Vietnam DP.
Eric was a radio advertising sales representative and Donna was an administrative assistant at a publishing firm. Eric was attempting to sell advertising to the owner of a small coffee shop when she made him an offer. She would hire him part-time to help her, and she would buy advertising on the radio.
Eventually, Eric left radio to become assistant manager at the coffee shop, and learned to roast coffee beans. And when the owner decided to close the shop, Eric announced to his soon-to-be bride, “I want to roast coffee.”
“That was 1999,” Donna said, Valentine’s Day, the day the couple were engaged. They gained experience with a small coffee counter operation in a professional office building, and in 2004, opened the first Merlin’s Coffee, in Hanover. In 2007, they opened the store at the Outlet Shoppes in GettysburgVillage.
Eric now runs the Hanover shop, Donna the one at Outlet Shoppes.
“You might be drinking Merlin’s at other (establishments),” Donna said; Merlin’s supplies roasted coffee beans to three restaurants, an organic farm and “some other businesses” in the Adams-Hanover area.
Burlap bags on the counter hold the coffee beans, available to the customer whole or ground. Merlin’s roasts 87 coffee flavors, and 61 teas. The available assortment, however, often varies according to what the supplier has in stock, which is in turn affected by such factors as whether the Colombian drug cartels have hampered shipping or there has been a drought or flood in Kenya.
Dark roast, it turns out, is actually fuller in taste and lighter in caffeine than lighter roast coffee. The caffeine is contained in oils normally held near the center of the green coffee bean. Roasting pulls the caffeine from the bean, leaving behind the richer coffee flavor.
The Gettysburg shop also offers pastries and cookies, and Hershey’s scooped ice cream.
There is a sign, set back a bit in the alley between Game Stop and Kitchen Collection stores. If you love coffee as much as I do, Merlin’s is a secret worth seeking, especially for a break during shopping or as a prelude to a movie at the nearby theater.
Merlin’s Coffee can be found on Facebook, or on the web at Merlin’s Coffee.
By the way, my personal favorite is French Roasted Brazilian. It is a dark roast, and I really like the flavor.
What is yours?