A couple of crazy, passionate entrepreneurs, Rebekha and Adam Young, have relocated from Ottawa to Charlottetown to open a coffee shop-cum-knitting café at 98 Water Street, a space formerly occupied by Ampersand and now christened Youngfolk & the Kettle Black (and thus severely in need of a nickname, quick).
They are clearly breaking several hard-and-fast Charlottetown rules, chief among which is that it’s impossible to make a go of a coffee shop in what, in Charlottetown terms, is the far-reaches of the marketplace’s geography. Coffee shops are supposed to be on University Avenue or Queen Street, and the notion that someone would walk all the way down Queen Street and up half a block on Water simply for a cup of coffee… why you might as well suggest they walk to Summerside.
They’re also targetting what might appear to be a sliver of the coffee shop market in Charlottetown, that which caters to people who actually care about the quality of the coffee they’re drinking. As you may recall from my 2007 survey of Charlottetown cappuccino, much of what passes for “coffee” in this town is tepid brown-flavoured water. Things have improved since then (I rather enjoy my morning coffee at Casa Mia every day), but we are not, as a rule, a town of coffee elitists.
That all said, if any couple is going to make a go of a high-end coffee shop on remotest Water Street, it is Adam and Rebekha.
These folks have energy. I suspect they may never sleep (in addition to all of the above, they’re also home-schooling their three kids). They have a frightening attention to the smallest details. They have tapped into the Island zeitgeist more quickly than almost anyone I’ve ever observed. And the coffee business is not new to them: their life in Ottawa was based around a similar place in the Byward Market.
They have not gone into any of this halfway: they’ve been working on transforming the 98 Water Street space since the early fall of 2011 (Adam orginally made contact with me with an offer of possible basement space for my letterpress back in October). And what was once, as Ampersand, a rather dark, claustrophobic space has been opened up and transformed into a sort of Scandinavian homage (and, indeed, it has good hygge). You won’t recognize it.
I had my first espresso macchiato there this morning. It wasn’t perfect, but imperfection at this level means “as good as anything you’re going to find in Charlottetown otherwise.” And they’ve an eager drive toward coffee perfection that you’ll have to look hard for elsewhere.
They’re open, to start, from 8:00 a. m. to 8:00 p. m. daily. I suggest you stop in.