Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Great Coffee Is Elementary: Harrisburg’s coffee culture revs it up at the Broad Street Market.

Screenshot 2015-01-27 23.57.09Andrea Musselman recalls her first sip of coffee at the age of 8.

The family had stopped at a convenience store while on a trip, and her dad bought a cup and passed it around.

“It was that disgusting, artificially sweet cappuccino, and I finished it all. I was bouncing off the walls for the rest of the night,” she said with a chuckle.

As she grew older, her tastes became more refined, and her quest for the perfect cup intensified. When she left home to attend college, she began brewing coffee in her dorm room.

As she recalls her relationship with her favorite libation, her eyes light up.

“I love everything about it—the packaging, the warm mugs, the taste, the smell, just everything,” said Musselman.

After graduation, the Harrisburg resident pursued her passion by joining the team at St. Thomas Roasters in Linglestown.

“They created a position for me, so that was exciting because they never taught anyone to roast there before,” she said.

The businesswoman spent three years honing her craft at the small coffee shop before deciding that it was time to spread her wings. She crafted a business plan and chose the Broad Street Market as her base of operations for her new company, Elementary Coffee.

“I wanted to do something for myself—interacting with people and promoting my product. Ashlee Dugan took over as the new [market] manager in June, and she is re-envisioning the market and bringing in new vendors. I think it’s a low-risk venture that is community-oriented, and it’s a great way to meet a variety of people,” she said.

Today, Musselman continues her relationship with St. Thomas Roasters, using their beans and roasting them according to her own style. “I am testing out some milder blends at the moment and, as I build up more interest, I want to start purchasing my own beans, working with the wholesaler,” she said.

For brewing, Musselman uses a Chemex Coffee Maker developed by chemist Peter J. Schlumbohm in 1941.

“It’s an individual pour-over method that’s all about control. It’s going back to basics where coffee is presented in a very manual form,” said Musselman, who eschews automatic drip coffeemakers, which she says produce a substandard product resulting in a flatter, sometimes bitter and less full-bodied flavor.

Each week, Musselman features three different coffees from regions around the world.

“I like African coffees and typically try to feature one from South America, Africa and Indonesia,” she said.

She also offers her own creation—a latte-based coffee flavored with cardamom and maple syrup called “Abacas.”

“It’s like a latte version of Turkish coffee, and it’s gaining in popularity, which is exciting because it’s something I developed,” she said.

Musselman prefers to keep it simple, hence the name Elementary, so there aren’t many food offerings at her stand. “I prefer to focus on the coffee,” she said.

But, for those seeking a little treat to pair with their java, she offers the artisanal chocolate of Frederic Loraschi. Based in Hummelstown, Loraschi has been wowing customers with his high-end chocolate creations for years and has created a mocha mix that Musselman uses for her hot chocolate.

“I was looking for a good mocha powder and found he had a hot chocolate mix that’s amazingly rich and decadent,” she said.

And, for those in the mood for something just a little different, Musselman offers Stroopwafels, too. Stroopwafels, or “Stroopies,” hail from the Netherlands, and the round waffles with the caramel center fit nicely atop a steaming hot mug.

“I found this place in Lancaster that makes them,” said Musselman, who grills the gluten-free treats onsite.

Musselman is expanding her business by partnering with Harrisburg resident Brad Moyer, a brewer at Bube’s Brewery in Mount Joy. He, along with his assistant, Steve Nott of Linglestown, searched for a local roaster and were impressed with Musselman’s expertise. They shared their techniques, joining together for the perfect pairing.

“When we started, we were putting the coffee beans in the beer and letting them soak for a week or so. Andrea came up with a better way. She suggested that we cold brew the coffee, filter out the grounds and then take the concentrated product and pump it into the tanks,” said Moyer, who reports that Elementary Espresso Stout has been popular with patrons and sales have been brisk.

“Our collaboration has worked out well due to the harmonious blend of knowledge about two artisanal crafts,” he said.

As for the future, the wheels are turning in Musselman’s head as she thinks of new ways to get the word out about her coffee. She’s toying with a few ideas, like offering “flights” of coffee, where customers will have the opportunity to try several small cups and learn more about each selection. For now, however, she’s been satisfied at how well things are going since opening in November.

“It’s good to be part of the community, and I think it’s headed in the right direction,” she said.

Elementary Coffee Co. is located inside the brick building of the Broad Street Market in Harrisburg. For more information, including weekly featured brews, visit their Facebook page at Elementary Coffee Co.

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