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COFFEE, TEA & HISTORY


For four decades, Kauffman’s has blended fine beverages, friendships. BY SUSAN RYDER


Betty Dorsey


I hear the chime of a hospitable bell and view a scene from years past. Glass jars with gold lettering line the shelves, chalkboards listing the available goods hang on the walls, and an ancient, silent cash register sits on


A the counter. Kauffman’s Coffee, Tea and Spice has resided in downtown


Lemoyne for 36 years. Owner Betty Dorsey recounts that she and friend Barb Shultz bought the business, originally located in Harrisburg’s Shipoke neighborhood, 41 years ago. “Why don’t we just shut up and buy it,” was Dorsey’s response to their indecision about purchasing the closing business. Tey moved it to Lemoyne because they couldn’t afford to


purchase the Shipoke building and because Lemoyne had greater customer traffic. Dorsey’s partner sold her part of the business to return to school five years into their venture. Dorsey’s husband, deceased for three years, served as the president of the Local Council of Churches, so she ran the business mostly by herself with the help of their children. While Kauffman’s is an old-fashioned shop, there’s nothing old about Betty Dorsey. Tis forward-thinking pastor’s wife started a small business at a time when only about 15 percent of women entered the workforce. She said that Kauffman’s is different than most teashops


because it doesn’t just serve tea. It also sells a variety of products, including pastries prepared by Dorsey’s friend. Kauffman’s dusty blackboards reveal the treasures within. Its loose teas, 35 types, include the exotic Russian gold, peony white and jasmine teas, as well as the more traditional Ceylon, Earl Grey and English breakfast. Tea lovers can also enjoy teas flavored with black currant, apple, apricot or Kauffman’s blend mint tea. When speaking of tea, she explains that there is “tea the plant and tea the drink.” “Tea the drink is not always tea the plant,” she said, referring


to the fact that tea, in the broad sense, is a beverage created when leaves, berries or roots are steeped in hot water. Tea, in the strict sense, is a beverage made with the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. Coffee rounds out the beverage menu with 25 varieties,


including Sumatran, French roast, Guatemalan and Kona. All coffee is whole bean and ground on the premises for customers to take home or French-pressed to enjoy in the shop. Dorsey’s extensive travels in Europe have influenced her ideas about coffee, and she wrinkles her nose at any mention of a coffee- brewing method other than French press—it just doesn’t taste


simple wooden sign hangs outside the unassuming


door. Upon walking inside,


good, she believes. Kauffman’s doesn’t restrict itself to selling beverages; it also deals in spices. Spices make up about a quarter of its business. Common kitchen spices—basil, oregano and thyme—line the shelves, which also include the less common saffron, whole nutmeg seeds and the mysterious tellicherry, a type of black pepper. Te place is full of breakables, but, in the corner on a simple


wooden chair, are two handmade cloth dolls for children to play with when they come in. Dorsey wants people to feel comfortable bringing their children into the shop. “It’s a special little coffeehouse,” said Fred, a regular at Kauffman’s. He likes that it’s quiet with no cell phones or blenders making what he unapologetically calls “non-coffee” drinks. According to Fred, drinking tea or coffee at Kauffman’s, with the classical music in the background, feels like sitting in a living room. “It’s like a bed and breakfast of coffee and tea,” he said. What’s also special about Kauffman’s is that it sells a unique blend of Sumatran, house blend, Italian and Tanzanian coffee, which is sold under an acronym that most people would find vulgar. At Kauffman’s, though, Folgers is the only swear word. When asked if she ever thought about updating the place, Dorsey replied “no way.” Te early-1900s cash register only rings up to $6.95, but Dorsey has never considered changing a thing. She weighs her goods on a vintage scale, writes up sales on slips of paper and uses a calculator to tally up the cost. With a confident smile, she said that Kauffman’s style has gotten her where she wants to be. About the only modern items at Kauffman’s are the various


brewing devices available for purchase. Te shop sells French presses and specialized tea brewers that go beyond the typical loose tea infuser. Justin Walters, owner of JW Music just over the bridge and


down the street from Kauffman’s, said that his parents went to Kauffman’s regularly and that his dad refused to buy coffee anywhere else. So, when his parents could no longer travel, Walters would make a special trip to Kauffman’s to purchase coffee for his dad—Colombian supreme. Like most people who know the store, Walters’ face lights up when he talks about it, and a broad smile comes across his face. “It brings back memories,” he said. Leaving Kauffman’s Coffee, Tea and Spices feels like leaving an old friend, even if you’ve just met. Te aged wooden floor creaks as I walk to the door, the bell peals a goodbye, and Dorsey and friend wave a friendly farewell. Stepping out into the noisy street with a small brown bag full of delicious possibilities, I look forward to my next visit.


Kauffman’s Coffee, Tea and Spice is located at 222 S. 3rd St., Lemoyne. Call 717-763-0829 or visit the Facebook page.


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