*This piece was published in the Freestyle section of Lancaster Newspapers on Sunday, May 4, 2014.
My dad drank orange juice every morning. He never liked coffee. It was my mom who drank the coffee. I would come downstairs in the mornings to her pouring the dark liquid into her mug, pairing it with cream and sugar. But not my dad, he would be faithfully sipping his orange juice.
My dad did want to be his own “boss” though. He was always looking for new ideas and new prospects. One weekend, he went on a conference with the golf course where he was a superintendent. While there, he was introduced to the concept of freshly roasted coffee. This was the first coffee that he actually enjoyed. His first sips were a foreshadowing of what was to come.
I remember him bringing some of this coffee home. It was in a metallic silver bag. He was ecstatic for my mom to try it, and she liked it, too. My dad combined his desire to start a business with the lack of a good coffee shop in New Holland, and a dream was born. We began from scratch with the name, location, menu, vendors, employees – everything.
There was one condition. He would have to roast his own coffee. He started with a popcorn popper on the back porch, learning the art of roasting batch by batch.
The first step was a full-facility demolition process. We filled dumpster after dumpster that summer, summer 2005. We used gallons upon gallons of paint. I’ll never forget the tedious process of scraping resistant wallpaper from the walls. It was a family bonding experience like none other. We placed our handprints in the sticky grey concrete under freshly laid tile, fingers spread wide. I was 11 years old.
After months of demo and decor, we finally were able to open the doors of New Holland Coffee Company for business. It was October 1, 2005, a rainy day. I don’t think we made much money on day one, but that was okay. We were happy. We were happy with our sparkling espresso machine, shiny red roaster, and coffee-colored walls.
I worked as a barista from opening day until the summer after I graduated from high school. That’s about 7 years of being a barista (by age 18). I learned to love it. I became accustomed to the permanent scent of coffee on my wardrobe. I did not mind the sore feet from standing for hours at a time. I even became immune to the burning sensation of hot liquid meeting skin. Most of all, I built relationships with the people.
Customers at first knew me as “the owner’s daughter.” Eventually, that changed, and they began to know me as “Lindsey.” To be a barista is to see people in all sorts of moments. I encountered tragedy; I also encountered great joy.
I always had this secret mission in mind. If a customer was not smiling when they walked in the door, I wanted them to be smiling by the time they were leaving. To this day, there are some customers whose names I can’t remember but whose drinks I will never forget. Like that one woman with the large, iced, hazelnut latte with skim milk and an extra shot of espresso. Or the young boy who snuck in while his mom was getting her nails done next door, asking for a caramel steamer with extra whipped cream and extra caramel, please.
As I transitioned to college, I stepped away from being a barista at NHCC. I miss it, but I return from time to time. Coffee still runs in my veins, preferably freshly roasted NHCC coffee.
I may not work there anymore, but like my handprint imprinted in the concrete under the floor, it will be forever imprinted on my heart.