Barista Magazine

JUN-JUL 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 41 of 107

interested in opening a brick-and-mortar shop. Mobile espresso bars are common in New Zealand, but were unheard of in Yellowknife in 2014. While the city has warm, sunny summers, they are short. The rest of the year, the climate doesn't lend itself to serving coffee from a van. Verena's solution was to purchase a 20kg Nuova Sim- onelli Musica she can carry from car to venue. Coffeelicious is busiest in summer with outdoor events, like the Can- ada Day Celebrations, and in the weeks leading up to Christmas, with holiday parties and customer-appreciation events. The rest of the year, Verena may only haul out the Musica once a month. Verena, who recently returned to university, has no interest in turning the business into a full-time job: "It is more enjoyable if we don't have to make coffee for a living," she says. "For us, it's like a hobby or a dedication." A mobile enterprise allows the passionate barista to set up occasionally and to make choices that are good for the environment and the taste buds, like serving organic milks and organic and Fair Trade beans (a self-made blend of Salt Spring coffee beans). T H E FAT F O X C A F É With its comfy chairs, handmade tables, and well-stocked bookshelves, the Fat Fox Café has become a favorite in downtown Yellowknife for curry and coffee enthusiasts alike. Owners Emma Atkinson and Jeremy Flatt started tossing around the idea of a café shortly after Emma moved to Yellowknife in 2012. (Jeremy arrived in 2010.) For everything the British expats loved about their new home, there were a few things they missed: "Scones with clotted cream and jam. Tea made with boiling water so that it infuses properly. Rich, fl avorful curries." Coffee was not initially a priority for the couple, for reasons of taste and investment. A chance encounter with a heavenly cortado in Essex gave Jeremy pause, moreso when he was unable to find a similar experience in Yellowknife. It was Emma's realization, how- ever—that their small menu would benefit from a more robust drink list—that sealed the deal. Though they arrived late to the idea of serving coffee, Jeremy and Emma were committed to doing it well. They bought a good machine (Wega Atlas) and an even better grinder (Compak K10), but most impor- tantly, they invested in their staff, which is no small feat in Yellowknife. Their fi rst full-time barista attended a coffee academy in Toronto. New- er employees have received in-house training from Edmonton-based Transcend Coffee, whose roasts are featured at The Fat Fox. (Jeremy cannot say enough nice things about Transcend's coffee and their support.) In the end, Emma admits, "It's good that we decided to go the route we did because we underestimated the demand in Yellowknife for high-quality coffee." There a few things on The Fat Fox menu you can't get elsewhere in town—including, you guessed it, a cortado—but Emma and Jeremy agree it's their approach to food and drink that sets them apart: "We make everything from scratch: coffee syrup, ketchup, soup stock. We want people to feel like everything that was made for them was made purposefully." B I R C H W O O D C O F F E E K Birchwood Coffee K , owned and operated by Jawah Bercier and her dad, Patrick Scott, is the second of two coffee shops that opened downtown in the summer of 2016. Jawah is unique among the city's cof- fee-preneurs. Born and raised in Yellowknife, she is the only local in the bunch. Jawah, who is Tłı̨ch Dene, is also the only indigenous business owner. Jawah's love affair with coffee began at 13 while vacationing in Van- couver. During a visit to J.J. Bean, she fell head over heels, vowing to work there someday. She bided her time learning the trade at Gourmet Cup, one of Yellowknife's longstanding coffee shops. When she relocated to Vancouver after high school, she made good on her adolescent prom- ise. Though she had a reputation for delicious lattes while at Gourmet Cup, Jawah credits J.J. Bean's rigorous training program with making her the barista she is today. It's no wonder that Birchwood serves J.J. Bean coffee (made on a manual Unic Mira Tri). Jawah moved back to Yellowknife, uncertain of her career path. Then her dad suggested opening a coffee shop. It was a no-brainer for the coffee enthusiast: "I've tried other things, but my go-to, the place where I've felt the most comfortable and the most at ease, was in a coffee shop," she says. "I like the fact that you can make someone's day by giving them good customer service and a good cup of coffee." Birchwood has also provided the self-taught baker an opportunity to share some of her favorite Northern recipes with customers, like bannock-clad breakfast sandwiches and bush pudding. The menu, the service, and the name (k means "home" in Tłı̨ch ) all refl ect Jawah and Patrick's desire for Birchwood to be a welcoming home base for Yellowknifers. Though half of the city's population is indigenous, the small-business community doesn't refl ect local demographics. A young Dene woman owning her own business is a powerful statement here. "She probably wouldn't see herself as a role model, but she is," says Patrick. "She's proof that if you're willing to put the effort out and the resources in, you can be successful. You can do it as an Indigenous person." M A R I O ' S M A R V E L L O U S M O V I E E M P O R I U M Yellowknife's newest coffee shop, Mario's Marvellous Movie Empori- um, opened in June 2017. You'll be forgiven for thinking that Mario's offers something other than coffee. The "coffeeship," which is moored in Yellowknife Bay, is arrived at by foot, skis, boat, or car, depending on the season. There are no hours at Mario's. When the green fl ag is up, it's open. When the red fl ag is up, it's not. There are also no prices. Patrons are invited to pay what they want. Those who manage to catch the green fl ag fl ying are promised a convivial atmosphere in which to enjoy an espres- so-based drink made with Kenya's Java House beans and a conversation with a neighbor or stranger. As owner Frans Barnard explains it, "It's really not the kind of place to come and sit on your own. You're going to end up talking to other people." Frans arrived to Yellowknife from Kenya fi ve years ago, when his partner, Heather, accepted a job as the territorial epidemiologist. The family of three moved onto a houseboat, which doubles as Frans' home offi ce. (The Zimbabwean expat co-owns a consultancy that provides training and crisis support for humanitarian organizations working in confl ict zones.) Mario's came about as a way to "stave off boredom" when Frans wasn't traveling. An off-grid coffeeship is a very particular enterprise. Both the lights and the lever Fracino espresso machine run on propane, though plans are in the works to expand the solar bank; a lightening-bolt shaped pel- let stove provides heat; and water is pumped by hand. Neither trades- people nor inspectors will make the journey to Mario's, so the work of installing and maintaining the houseboat's various systems has been done by Frans and a handful of generous friends. The single biggest is- sue is freezeup and breakup, when the ice forms in the fall and disperses in the spring. "We don't open during those times because we don't want people from the mainland with no experience of the ice seeing the green fl ag and deciding that the crossing looks like a good idea," says Frans. Serving coffee is just the beginning. Frans has used Mario's as a launching point for Dangerous Camp for Kids and Dangerous Day 42 barista magazine

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