Whaddya want? Beans, a brew or a bike?
That’s not a trick question.
Java giant Zola Dore and bike pro Pat Plemel have teamed up to found a unique one-stop shop on Quartz Road.
The two entrepreneurs have set up Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters and Icycle Sports in the same building.
They hope the mix works out like, well, coffee and cream.
Skiers and cyclists will grab a java and those coming for lattes will stop a minute to check out the gear.
So far it’s a natural fit, says Plemel, who went south to a trade conference a few weeks ago to hype the new venture, armed with 50-gram packs of coffee as business cards.
“You want to see someone get excited?” asks Plemel.
“Give a biker something that has caffeine in it.”
Dore and Plemel took a long-term lease on the Quartz Road building and began customizing it to fit their unique needs.
“My last customer said the place looked like a store you’d find down south and he couldn’t figure out whether it was a good thing or not,” said Plemel with a hearty laugh while handing his favourite silver mug over to Dore for an Americano fill-up.
The front of the store is filled with gear, clothes, skis and dozens of adult bikes that range in price from $250 to more than $3,000.
“People maybe thought we were a bit elitist at the downtown store, and I’m comfortable using that term against myself,” said Plemel.
But, as the maxim goes, you get what you pay for.
“The biggest thing I stress with customers is that these are not department-store bikes,” says Plemel.
The No. 1 difference between a department-store bike and a bike-store bike is the expertise of the person who’s putting it together, he says.
And Icycle offers a range of bikes for different-sized people.
“Trust me, one-size-fits-all doesn’t,” says Plemel.
Cross-country skis line a rack near the shop’s back wall, another tweak Plemel added to his operation after the move.
They’re there to bolster sales and generate more traffic in the shop during the off-season for cyclists, “so we can eat in the winter,” Plemel says with a smile.
“We like to tell people we sell what we do best, and what we do personally — we road bike and we mountain bike and we cross-country ski,” he says.
“And we drink coffee,” he adds with a smile, taking a slug of java.
Just a few footsteps away hangs a stained glass picture of a raven clutching a coffee bean in its mouth, the sole piece of art salvaged from Dore’s previous shop and roaster on Fourth Avenue, which burned to the ground about a year ago.
Beneath it, Midnight Sun staff are busy taking orders on their more than 70 offerings and one is testing beans pulled from Dore’s brand new roaster.
“It’s the magic-maker,” says Dore of the shiny new $30,000 machine she’s been drooling over for years and finally had the money to purchase.
“One of the few benefits the insurance company came through with after the fire,” she explains.
Although this is a new model, the design of coffee roasters hasn’t changed since the early 1900s.
Raw beans are poured through the top spout into a chamber where they dance around like bingo balls while they’re heated by hot air.
The beans are tested intermittently until they’re cooked to perfection, and then they’re poured out smoking and popping to cool.
Roasting is more of an artisan skill than an exact science.
“Every roaster has a different idea of what’s right, that’s where my skill is — knowing when to stop,” says Dore, who has been roasting for 20 years.
Dore has also taken the beans out of her Main Street location and has put it up for sale.
She’s had a few nibbles coming her way already, but nothing solid yet, she says.
She’s selling so she can focus on the part of the business she loves — roasting the beans.
Dore and Plemel’s friendship began nine years ago when Dore was a co-owner of what was then the Blackstone Café and Plemel first opened his shop on Wood Street.
He’d come over to get coffee and she’d go to his shop to look at the bikes.
Fast-forward eight years, after the café Dore was renting burned to the ground, the owner decided not to rebuild right away, so she began hunting for other options.
Meanwhile, Plemel’s lease at his Fourth Avenue location was coming to an end, so the two entrepreneurs and friends decided to team up.
They opened the doors of their new Quartz Road location on October 6.
“It was very gratifying unlocking the doors that Friday morning, we opened at 10 a.m. and the first people were in at 10:01 a.m.,” said Plemel.
Most people come in to visit and check out the new digs, but then there’s the addiction factor.
“People find the coffee no matter where it is,” says Dore with a laugh.
Although the Quartz Road shop is more off the beaten path for foot traffic, the pair hopes to attract drive-bys and the scores of tourists who park their RVs in the Argus parking lots across the street each summer.
“We might as well take some of their money as Wal-Mart does,” says Plemel.
“And get their butts on a bike,” Dore adds with a laugh.