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Full steam ahead

Espresso back on tap after a three-month layoff

Terry Halifax
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Aug 09/02) - Inuvik's java junkies are thrilled that their only fix for gourmet coffee is back up to full steam.

The espresso machine at Cafe Gallery packed it in about three months ago and owner Rob Cook was stumped.

The coffee machine came with the business and Cook said it worked fine for three years and he didn't know where to turn when the java wouldn't jive.

"It just stopped heating up, so I thought it was the element," he said.

"I tried to phone all around town to see if anyone could fix it."

He called Andre Oullete over at Bob's Sheet Metal, who does some refrigeration work for the Gallery, but Oullete had no experience with exotic coffee steamers.

Oullete suggested his cousin in Montreal who specializes in espresso makers, but Cook didn't want to have to ship the machine all the way there.

The ice road was just about to go out and with tourists waiting on the other side, Cook had to make a move.

He called his friend Don Patterson, who discovered a faulty part.

"He took a look at it and managed to determine that the element was gone in it," Cook said.

He shipped the burnt-out element to an Edmonton supplier and they shipped back a new one.

They installed the new element, but the machine still didn't work.

Someone else took a look at the machine and determined that the thermostat wasn't working, so that was shipped out.

Still not working

When the new part arrived, it took a couple weeks until they found someone to install the thermostat.

"It still didn't work," Cook lamented.

"At this point we were scrambling to make sure all the parts got put back in it, because there were already three sets of hands working on it."

He called Oullete again, who assured he would try again, once he got time.

"Andre joked about his cousin in Montreal and said the only other way was to get him to come up here, but that was probably not going to happen," he said.

When a refrigerator compressor quit in the back room last week, he put in another call to Oullete.

"When he showed up, he walked in with his cousin Michel from Montreal," Cook said.

He found out that with all the different people working on it, they had wired it wrong and they were missing a bolt ... but a couple hours later, it worked."

Cook says the gourmet coffee culture is building locally, but the visitors really enjoy the foamy cappuccino and the strong espressos.

"If you've never had a cappuccino, you wouldn't think to order one, but if you're a tourist, or you've just moved here, it's a little taste of civilization," he said.

Now, with this experience behind them, Cook said the Delta's only java joint will be ready for the next coffee catastrophe.

"The next time it happens, I'll be better prepared and the town won't have to wait."