The fourth location of Javaroma Gourmet Coffee and Tea was filled to the brim during its grand opening Saturday in a city that loves that extra boost of caffeine goodness.

Rami Kassem, the owner of the four Yellowknife businesses, said it has been due to “great community support” that he just opened the new location in the Yk Centre Mall downtown.

“We had over 300 people there. We were expecting to see maybe 150,” Kassem said of the afternoon’s activities that included face painting, gifts, and a centre table laden with a variety of delicacies.

“Everyone was excited, as we are, and lots of people dropped in with their kids,” said Kassem.

A taste of the North

While Kassem said he has seen many coffee shops around the globe where people just line up, get their coffee and go, he finds that in his shop, people stay and enjoy the atmosphere.

“In a place like Yellowknife, people know each other and they want to see each other. They often work in different buildings and want to meet in a coffee shop and chat and get connected.”

“Our shop is cozy, people love the colours, the smell of the coffee,” he said of the ambiance that draws people in to stay awhile.

“Local means a lot. You look at our walls, we have all local artists’ work – we support them and they put their art on the walls. Before Covid, we used to have a music night on Saturday. We would support local singers to sing in Javaroma,” he said, adding that these create community vibes that people appreciated.

When Covid restrictions stopped people from their usual coffee shop routines and as he found it more difficult to find or retain staff as time went on, he said they had to cease the social aspect of the service they provided.

“After Covid things changed, but hopefully soon things will go back to the way it was before and back to normal,” Kassem said.

Aside from providing good customer service, Kassem said he attributes the longevity of his business to his strong connection with the community.

“We are community people and a community business and we have local support from customers. We are involved in everything in the community, so, we have a great community that is supporting us all these years.”

Another draw to his coffee shop is the specialty coffee and the wide selection of food and other cold drinks they offer, he said.

On an average day, they sell hundreds of cups of coffee, mochas, cappuccinos and lattes, he added.

“We roast our own coffee and we have our own coffee blends. We mix our coffee from different countries to make a blend. We have Northern blends: Mad Trapper, Jack Rabbit, Wolf Breath and other blends. And our Northern special, you can’t find it anywhere other than Javaroma. That is a favourite,” he said, adding that he often roasts and blends the coffee himself.

And while the focus is primarily on ensuring shop or delivery customers have enough coffee brewed and ready for them, Kassem said before Covid, customers would often order or buy bags or even pounds of coffee to bring back home with them because of its popularity.

“Now that we are short staffed, I am the one roasting coffee so I am focused more on the service and supplying locations but we could package it on location,” he said.

“I would like to say thank you to everybody who supported us through this journey. We wouldn’t be here without them,” said Kassem. “I think the future is bright.”

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