Swatara Coffee Co. has its origins in Afghanistan five years ago. (No, really!) John started dreaming of opening a coffee shop while he was deployed and engaged to Joanna. This year, they were finally able to make that dream come true after John left the Navy and they bought a Civil War-era house in Joanna’s hometown. Focused on creating community, they named their shop after a river that runs through the town.
Who We Are
Joanna is one half of SCC. Born in Lebanon County, she is a proud, lifelong NL Viking (yay, Class of 2004!). She attended Jonestown Elementary and spent a lot of recess time reading instead of playing kickball. In high school, she was part of choir and band, Quiz Bowl, and Belron.
John grew up in a small town bordering the city of Pittsburgh (yes, he’s a Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, and most things Pittsburgh fan). He had an early start in business, delivering newspapers for the town’s newspaper, starting when he was in fourth grade. In high school he began getting involved in the community; of the extracurricular activities he was involved with he spent the most time with band programs playing the trumpet, which he still does today.
Joanna and John ended up at Penn State after growing up in different corners of PA. Both trumpet players, Joanna and John both joined Penn State’s marching band. Joanna was a very scared frosh when she met sophomore John on the first day of band camp. (Yes, she remembers. So does John.)
However, it wasn’t a lightening bolt (for Joanna, anyway… later that year, John told his best friend that he could definitely marry her some day). As trumpet players, they saw each other a lot and talked on AIM (that makes us feel SO old). Joanna’s sophomore year, John gathered up the nerve to ask her on a date.
Pretty much everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. (If you want to know the deets, they both have very different perspectives– ask them about it over a cup of coffee!) After a very long and awkward date, Joanna told John that she had to go write a paper (which she really, actually did!). He thought he didn’t have a chance and they grew apart over the last few years they were at Penn State together.
John and Joanna left college and went their separate ways. Another botched almost-date a year later (it was totally Joanna’s fault this time!), and John decided to follow one of his dreams: Enlist in the Navy.
He shipped off to boot camp expecting to live the life of a world-traveling sailor. Until Joanna sent him a letter. He sent one back, and by the time he was allowed to use a phone again after basic, they began talking on the phone every night for hours.
It took almost a year until they were able to go on their second first date. It took another year and they were engaged while John prepared to ship off for a 12-month deployment to Afghanistan.
During that deployment, John began formulating his idea for a coffee shop. While they were dating, John fell in love with Lebanon County and Jonestown, in particular, as he visited Joanna’s family. Bringing a coffee shop to the town as a place for community and fellowship was something he became passionate about while he was so far away from home. The idea for Swatara Coffee Co.–and the name–was born.
Joanna and John got married in Jonestown a month after he came back from deployment. They spent the next three years living in Virginia Beach and then in Fredericksburg, VA. In the historic, boutique town of Fredericksburg, they got a chance to frequent fantastic coffee shops that were great gathering places that honored the history and beauty of the area. It became their passion to do the same thing in Jonestown.
After 6 1/2 years of service, John left the Navy and the pair began their journey to open Swatara Coffee Co.
Our Anchoring Beliefs
It’s pretty simple: We believe in doing the right thing. This mantra encompasses every component of our company. We value our neighbors and our community and want to be part of a strong, vibrant place we call home. We commit ourselves to being good stewards and responsible community members. This means sourcing as much as we can from local businesses and farms. It means being as environmentally friendly and eco-conscious as possible. It means valuing our employees and treating everyone with respect.
How We Source
Swatara Coffee Co. sources from local farms and purveyors as often as possible. We believe this not only provides a better quality product but, more importantly, it supports our neighbors, their businesses, and area farms.
Our Local Partnerships
We believe Pennsylvania (and especially Lebanon County!) is an awesome place to live with people and places that have so much to offer. We celebrate our community by working with the people and businesses here and believe that by choosing local and small, we’re able to have a big impact on our community.
We are proud to partner with
- Long Acre Hollow (Jonestown, PA)
- Sandi’s Breads (Palmyra, PA)
- East Indies Coffee & Tea Company (Lebanon, PA)
- Patches Family Creamery (Lebanon, PA)
- Local artists including Jim Cascarino, David Schrierer, and Pam Gray
- Northern Lebanon High School’s art and industrial technology programs (Fredericksburg, PA)
- Stroopies (Lancaster City, PA)
- #RepresentPA (State College, PA)
- Allison Maple Farm (Ono, PA)