A good cuppa Joe
Coffee buffs share trade secrets

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Aug 23/99) - For many people -- a.k.a. creatures of habit -- the brewed liquid upon which Juan Valdez and Starbucks built their names is every bit as crucial as the blood that courses through their own veins.

For others, supplying that addiction, that craving, or that needed morning boost has proven to be successful fodder on which to build a thriving empire.

Thats right folks. Its all about coffee and Iqaluit is no exception. Hordes of the capitals residents continuously flock to the finest establishments the community has to offer to consume cup after cup of the black gold.

But make no mistake -- the coffee crowd is a finicky lot and, for the most part, it takes hard work and more than a few tricks of the trade to keep the brew brewing and the people buying. So what exactly is it that these caffeine gurus do to keep earning the bucks?

Brian Twerdin, the co-proprietor of the Grind & Brew, one of the first gourmet coffee shops to spring up in Iqaluit, said the coffee biz is all about keeping the java fresh and having a good selection to choose from.

With over 53 original mixes and manufactured bean blends to choose from, the Grind & Brew not only grinds their beans to order for those not equipped with their own mechanical devices, but Twerdin said that a fresh pot or two is always on the go.

"We try to keep it fresh. Lets say that we go through it continuously," said Twerdin, adding that the morning rush and the coffee breaks were his peak hours.

Also offering specialty teas, pastries, coffee accessories, soup and sandwich lunch specials and T-shirts, Twerdin said its the taste that people keep coming back for.

"Its the taste. Thats what people like about our coffee. Thats what they tell me."

Down the road at the Fantasy Place, Isabelle Benoit said that along with a regular cleaning and purifying of the machines and thermoses, its her cappuccino machine and her house specialty, the Heavenly Kuku, that keeps her flock happy.

"I try to please everyone. If people like it, they'll come back and they do. Thats a good sign. It shows I'm going in the right direction," said Benoit, who recently completed a significant expansion to her store.

Simon Lee, the manager and co-owner of the Navigator Restaurant and its busy coffee shop, said it has nothing to do with the beans or the water quality.

""People just need a place to take a break. Most of the people know each other. There's no special secret. Its just a place to go and to meet," said Lee.

Likewise for the Frobisher Inn. Also home to a dedicated coffee crowd, dining room manager Paul Dorion said tricks like using a pinch of salt or a teaspoon of cinnamon aren't necessary for his elixir.

"You just have to make sure the coffee is a good quality coffee and that its no older than 25 minutes. We try to time it and were not always perfect, but we get it before it goes stale or acidy," said Dorion.

Sometimes, just sometimes, he noted that people even treat themselves to a little nip of something extra special.

"A person might treat themselves to a shot of Baileys, but its not that often."

As for those connoisseurs who prefer to get it at home, Aaju Peter is renown for the strong brew that she grinds and percolates one cup at a time.

"It just tastes better when the coffee is fresh each time," said Peter.

Not loyal to any one kind of bean, she said that switching keeps her happy, just as long as she gets at least four jolts a day.

"Thats how I start each day and usually how I end it. I cant sleep without my coffee."