The Coffeesmith expands to brick and mortar building

Coffee stand owner opens cafe in former K-Bay Caffe location

Caffeine aficionados most likely know The Coffeesmith by the big red cup brightening up the side of the Sterling Highway at its intersection with Main Street, but starting this week owner Ethan Smith has a new way to reach the public — the iconic former K-Bay Caffe & Roasting building.

The Coffeesmith Cafe officially opened in the building on Pioneer Avenue on Tuesday.

Like many local eateries and businesses, K-Bay shuttered earlier this year when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Alaska and safety restrictions were imposed. Since then, local businesses have opened up at different speeds and in different capacities. K-Bay has since remained closed, but has continued the roasting and bean selling side of its operation.

Smith has moved in and will rent the space from owner Michael McGuire. Good news for those who have particularly missed K-Bay: The Coffeesmith Cafe will use and serve K-Bay coffee.

Those who like getting their fix while heading to work or running errands have nothing to fear as the big red cup that opened just over a year ago isn’t going anywhere. Smith is expanding and will continue to run both operations. At the drive through stand, Smith will continue to serve Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters, sourced out of Washington State.

Of the move onto Pioneer, Smith said any business decision where growth is concerned has always been motivated by family, and a wish to make the Homer community better than he found it. His wife takes the lead on the new cafe menu, and the expansion provides and opportunity for his four daughters to be more involved.

“Our goal is to enrich Homer,” Smith said.

Smith said he values what McGuire was able to create in that space since K-Bay opened in 2012. When the popular coffee shop closed, he said the whole community felt it. McGuire has set the bar high, Smith said, “but my goal is to serve the community like Michael did.”

The Coffeesmith Cafe will have the standard array of goodies and baked goods, including chai pudding and quinoa bowls. In a nod to a weekly family tradition, Smith said the cafe will also offer biscuits and gravy every Saturday.

“It’s just something we want to share with the community,” he said.

Smith said the cafe will also seek to include some gluten-free and dairy-free options. Homer Kombucha will be available on tap, and Smith is looking into serving nitro-infused coffee drinks as well.

The cafe itself has been altered slightly to account for COVID-19 precautions. There’s now a plastic barrier set up on the coffee bar to separate customers from staff, and tables have been spaced 6 feet apart.

Customers can remove their masks when they get to their tables, Smith said.

In terms of pursuing the expansion, Smith said his family is invested in Homer and wants to invest more. If he can encourage one person at a time to feel loved and valued, his goal will have been met, he said.

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