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Not surprisingly, there’s a growing market for coffee

The Art of Coffee is moving up in the world, now offering breakfast, lunch, and a fall staple – the pumpkin spice latte.

What began as a booth selling Keurig machine K-Cups at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market, has since branched out into a variety of drinks you can brew at home, along with a café-style menu since its move to 63 Arthur St. S. in Elmira.

Owner Nathan Barnai and his wife decided to bring their business to Elmira last year, starting out on the top floor of the Village Shoppes.

“We wanted to get into town and offer people in Elmira a regular place where they could come and get their coffee, whether it be a single serve machine product or loose tea, whole bean coffee, just a variety of products instead of just maybe the one time customer you’d see at the farmers’ market,” Barnai said. “We wanted to build relationships with customers and have them get their stuff in town, hopefully on a regular basis.”

After six months or so at that location it was time to find somewhere new, in order to offer fresh made food and drinks. They found their new place next to the library, which gives them more exposure and better accessibility. He said they had to put a lot of work into it, but it was worth it.

“I’m always looking for that great business idea and seeing different retail stores open up around the Waterloo Region that specialized in the single serve products. I kind of had a fascination with it and really liked the business model, and saw how big this market was going to become. I got into it probably half to three quarters of the way through everybody getting the excitement about it, but since then even it’s grown in the number of offerings and the number of companies producing K-Cups and whatnot,” Barnai said.

There’s a little bit of seating in the store for people looking to sit down with their meal or drink. But he knows for the most part, customers will be taking it to go, back to their downtown offices.

Now, they’re expanding their lunch menu to include more sandwiches and sides. They’ll also have a weekly soup and chili, starting next week.

“We’ve already got people coming back on a pretty regular basis for our toasted sandwiches. They’re a unique sandwich that really you don’t get anywhere. It’s taking a combination of the Subway sub, but the Quiznos toasted version, but a little more of a condensed size in a specialty sandwich, that they really wouldn’t get at any of those places,” Barnai said.

He notes their new homemade coleslaw will likely be a hit. His wife has never liked coleslaw, but after trying his version, she’s been asking for him to make it again.

For the fancy drink lovers, they’ve just added a pumpkin spice latte, a caramel crunch latte, a Chai tea latte, and a London fog. They also have almond milk as a non-dairy milk option.

“I’ve been told by people that my pumpkin spice latte contends with, if not better, than Starbucks’ pumpkin spice lattes,” Barnai said.

Nathan Barnai’s The Art of Coffee on Arthur Street in Elmira now offers breakfast and lunch options, along with their staple K-Cup and coffee offerings.[Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Nathan Barnai’s The Art of Coffee on Arthur Street in Elmira now offers breakfast and lunch options, along with their staple K-Cup and coffee offerings. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
They’re still looking into a gluten-free option for their lunch menu, but haven’t found the right products yet. What they do offer for those who need to avoid gluten is a line of barbeque sauces, condiments, and marinades made by Wicked Gourmet, which are well known by condiment enthusiasts.

Since opening in Elmira, community feedback has been great, he says,

“People have really enjoyed, the ones that have been finding out about us, the selection that we have,” Barnai said. “The pricing is right in line with as far as the retail prices go, and great response to the quality of coffee we serve.”

They grind their beans fresh everyday for the coffee they brew and offer a dark and a light roast. You can buy whole coffee beans at the store too, and have them grind them for you or grind them yourself. They’ll also soon be brewing teas from Tea Forte, a gourmet loose tea company.

“I just didn’t want to focus on just the single-serve products. We know that not everybody uses the Keurig machine, so we wanted to have products that anybody can use for brewing tea or coffee or indulgent drinks at home, as well as obviously we can serve some great stuff here for them.”

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