Written By Mary Spiro
Few aromas put you “down on the farm” faster than the smell of a smoking ham and fresh brewed pot of coffee. For 87 years, Hahn’s of Westminster have been purveyors of that country fresh ideal with family recipe meat products that are dry cured, seasoned, smoked and packaged right on the premises. And for the last seven years, Hahn’s has been the only company in Carroll County to roast its own selection of premium coffee beans.
Despite a long-standing tradition in the region and a rich family history, you might not find Hahn’s products in your local grocery store. The only place you can buy Hahn’s products to take home to your family is at the aptly named Pork and Beans Country Store, located at the intersection of Hahn Road and Rte. 27. (The “pork” part of the name is obvious. The “beans” part refers to the raw coffee beans that are roasted in small 18 -pound batches, not to the dish made famous in Boston.)
“Large volume institutional buyers such as restaurants or country clubs are our biggest customers,” said Barbara Brown, Hahn’s vice president and descendant of a Hahn cousin who helped put the whole gastronomic venture into motion. Hahn’s distributors take their meat products throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, DC, Brown explained. You may have already tasted Hahn’s bacon, sausage or ham at your favorite eatery, but you’d probably never know.
One trip to the Pork and Beans Country Store and you will wish it were somehow possible to derive all of your daily nutritional requirements from hickory smoked meats and fresh brewed coffee. The aroma of the smoking sausages, hams, bacon, corned beef and other products outside the store is so intoxicating that it lures people driving by on Route 27.
Step inside the country store and you will be drawn hypnotically to the pots of freshly brewed coffee or the bags of roasted coffee beans. There are light roasts and dark roasts and varieties from as far away as Ethiopia and Hawaii. There are Ôfair trade’ coffees, for which part of the proceeds go back to support the coffee growers. There is even the famous $32 a pound Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, purportedly the best-tasting coffee in the world and the only type ever served by the White House. (Pork and Beans sometimes blends the pure Jamaican Blue Mountain with a South American variety to make a more affordable product for us non-presidential types.)
The store’s most popular flavored blend is “Cinnamon Sticky Bun,” said store manager Jessica Farrow. But Farrow is quick to point out that a simple unadorned blend called just “Joe” is the popular choice of those weaning themselves off of the grocery store brands.
“It tastes,” Jessica said matter-of-factly, “just how you would expect a good coffee to taste.”
Aside from gourmet meat products and the premium coffee blends, Pork and Beans sells a tremendous selection of locally-made and carefully-selected items, including teas, sauces, jams, jellies and candies. Here you can find Jill’s Jam and Jellies of Hampstead, Rick’s Ragin’ BBQ Sauce made in Monkton, Glenbrook Honey of Winfield and flour from the Union Mills Homestead.
Hahn’s, however, is mostly about the meat. The Hahn’s story began as far back as 1896, when the great grandfather of the company’s current owners, William F. Myers of Pleasant Valley, operated a meat packing plant at the corner of Liberty and Green Streets in Westminster. Traveling by train and then by wagon, Myers took his products to businesses throughout Baltimore.
After Myers’ daughters married brothers Joseph and Norval Hahn, Myers graciously set his new sons-in-law up in a meat packing business of their own. As a result, folks all around Westminster have been enjoying the hard work of the Hahn brothers since 1918.
In 1948, Barbara Brown’s father, Henry F. Redmer Jr., was convinced by his cousins at Hahn’s to leave the National Biscuit Co. and expand their sales in Baltimore. Redmer developed a quick turnaround sales strategy, spending his days taking orders from customers in the city then racing to the Hillen Train Station each night. Someone on the next rolling train would throw the orders off to Redmer on Hahn’s dock in Westminster. Workers would then prepare the orders overnight and deliver them by truck to customers the next morning.
Until the early 1960s, Brown said, Hahn’s butchered its own meat. “The area was much more rural then than it is today,” she said. “There are stories of pigs getting loose and running down the nearby railroad tracks.”
By the 1960s, when Brown’s brothers, Bruce and Bill Redmer, began working for their dad at the plant, Hahn’s had switched to dressed hogs for processing. Today, she says they only work with the prime cuts of meat from U.S. and Canada. And although the methods and technology of meat processing have changed tremendously over the years, Brown said, Hahn’s still uses many of the same family recipes that great grandfather Myers made so popular. Some products still carry the William F. Myers label, even though that business was acquired by Hahn’s in 1981.
As more customers asked for natural products, Hahn’s kept ahead of the trend by offering “all natural” products under the label Wellshire Farms. The meat is derived from free range animals and is certified free of nitrates, nitrites, antibiotics, hormones, preservatives and artificial ingredients. Natural foods stores, such has Whole Foods Market, carry this product but you can pick it up at the country store as well. (All natural or not, anything called Black Forest Boneless Ham Nugget sounds pretty tasty!)
For tea lovers, Hahn’s lead the pack as well. Visitors to Pork and Beans will find teas by Ashby’s, Stash, The Republic of Tea and other popular blends. The store also carries an impressive assortment of ceramic tea sets and accessories. Looking for a tea service with a Mondrian-inspired design? Hahn’s has it.
Gift givers will appreciate Pork and Beans’ friendly staff and their ability to pull together a delicious gift basket quickly to fit any budget. Frequent coffee drinkers will want to join the Coffee Club, where every 11th pound of coffee purchased is free. And no BLT sandwich would be complete without a couple of slices of Hahn’s gourmet, thick-sliced bacon piled on top.
Hahn’s Pork and Beans Country Store is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.