Main Street has changed so much in the 10 years since I commuted to Butler 5 days per week. New restaurants, businesses, and renovated structures replaced the dilapidated leftovers of the past. Ahhh progress.
My search of the best coffee shops in Butler County recently brought me to Cummings Coffee and Candy on Main Street in the revitalized and still revitalizing burgh of Butler. Tucked into a storefront on a bustling late-Spring Thursday, I took my first steps into Cummings. The shop, unhindered by the neighboring progress, was an absolute treat for the senses. The aromas hit before I passed the threshold triggering disgust from my 5-year-old companion.
“Ugh! It smells like coffee in here,” she says.
“This must be the place,” I reply.
Cummings is dark. It’s warm and pulls you in with a surprisingly ample breadth and depth. Let’s face it – size matters. Being wedged into a tiny coffee shop or having to wait outside while your drink is prep kills the entire experience. I want to roam. I want to look around and investigate the shop while considering the differences between a bean from Kenya and one from Ethiopia. I do not want to investigate the particular odors of my fellow patron.
This space is not a throwback or a newly-remodeled to look old kinda place. This place is old – 111 years and counting by my math. 2016 minus 1905 equals 111 (I still got it!). The age is entirely appealing and continued the process of drawing me in, as did the family lineage.
Cummings is not a crazy acronym; it’s a family name that represents three generations of members working to build, maintain, and reinvent a business. When so many of their neighbors, permanently flipped their sign to close Cummings opened the next day.
Cummings has a lot to look at, but rather than having a bunch of crazy crap on the wall. They have beans, lots and lots of beans. Bulk, whole beans in many varieties sourced from around the world, roasted in Pittsburgh at Nicholas Coffee and Tea Co. (check out their Facebook here), and ripe for sampling. I felt like a kid in a candy shop. Well … technically I suppose I was, but based on the in-store real estate division, coffee was definitely the focus as a few chocolate-covered creations rested above the display case. Perhaps it was the transition towards coffee in 1995 that kept the Cummings name above the door.
So much of the bean selection was alluring, but I had to go for the one that stood out the most: a Guatamolian Antiga blend. It is the only bean roasted in-house, as my barista informed me. It would be crazy to refuse that, and I got my half-pound to go.
But that is for later. I had some caffeination needs in the present, so I went with my standard iced mocha, which is the barometer of any coffee shop on a hot day. My barista approved my choice and the 8-year Cummings veteran set off to brew after asking my milk preference. The generously-sized, moderately-priced medium was handed over and the ample booth seating called my name. This is a place to get stuff done on the laptop or visit with friends. In 1905, Cummings Confectioners didn’t envision the need for wifi but luckily, Cummings Coffee and Candy did.
The mocha was perfectly balanced with the espresso coming through beautifully. It only took a few sips for me to know the best mocha in Butler County was sliding through my straw. The bakery items aren’t extensive, but my biscotti was the perfect compliment. Before I knew it, my traveling companion downed her chocolate, which meant it was time to go.
During the 30 minute ride back home, the mocha seemed to only get better. It held up to the heat without any dilution. Surely, I thought, some sort of wizardry went into this concoction, and I was right. As the final slurp was sipped, I saw it. It was something of legend such as Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster, only delicious. It was a coffee ice cube. That, my friends, is the culmination of 111 years of business.
The only downside is the distance. The thirty-minute drive does not lend itself to frequent trips, but the distance definitely adds to the desirability.
Consume.Review.Repeat. gives Cummings Coffee & Candy 9.1 coffee cubes out of 10.