Hipsters have arrived in Lancaster County! Just kidding. Well, maybe not. Across the street from the bustling Bird-in-Hand Farmer’s Market is a charming, new cafe located in an old brick building. It’s called Menno Tea. They have a naturally grown, organic mint farm nearby and specialize in infusing coffee and tea with their mint. No doubt a play-on-words with Mennonite, this company has the right idea but the wrong execution.
I love small businesses like this, but natural and organic are only meaningless buzzwords if your product doesn’t taste good. Mint flavored tea? Certainly. But mint coffee? I thought this was an odd combination before I ordered it. I talked myself into it because cold brew coffee with mint was the top item on the menu. A specialty. Surely it must be tasty. I had mine iced and black. My friend had his with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and seltzer, a Frankenstein take on the Egg Cream. We also threw in a chocolate mint whoopie pie. After scarfing that down in a couple of bites (it was delicious) we both made our way to the coffee. A sip each and there was silence. My tastebuds did not know what to do. He made not a sound either. No comment. He swirled the ice cream around with his straw without saying a word.
After ten minutes of staring at the table, we went outside to walk to the market. I had only taken three sips when I broke the silence: “This sucks”. Wanting to be polite since I paid, he quietly responded, “I don’t know what to make of it”. On my way to the garbage can to toss this out after those three unbearable sips, I said, “It tastes like rye bread. Like [expletive deleted] rye bread”. “You know what…you’re right”, he affirmed with a wrinkled nose. Into the can mine went. I told him, “If you don’t like it, just throw it out. You won’t hurt my feelings by becoming a martyr”. He said, “Maybe if I let the ice cream melt more it will be better.” Less than two minutes later, I did the honor for him by throwing the $5 worth of funky brown water into the trash.
We both stood in the parking lot in a stunned silence. There was commiseration but no detailed pre-blog conversation. I had to break the silence yet again, “I feel like I need to eat something that’s very bad for me.” So we went into the market and each ordered a bratwurst. Memory erased. By the way, the bratwurst was very good. We ate them at a counter service called Barbie’s Sandwich Shop. With each bite, the meat in tube form blasted away the awfulness of the mint coffee.
Anyway, I guess I have to give Menno Tea an actual score. I’m going with what I think is a very fair albeit lenient rating of 2 out of 5 stars. The service was pleasant, the whoopie pie soft and fresh, and the interior design of the cafe very sleek. But nothing, and I mean nothing, can make up for what they did to that coffee. Such a combination does not need to exist. There’s a reason why the market across the street had more cars than parking spaces and we were the only two people in this place.
Menno Tea is located at 2727 Old Philadelphia Pike in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania.
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