Coffee stand navigates challenge

There may be a coffee hut on every corner and a Starbucks inside every grocery store in the Valley, but there is only one floating coffee hut — and it’s on Big Lake.Anchored just a couple hundred yards from the Islander Lodge floats Coffee Port Espresso, the brainchild of owners Billi and Gary Perkins and a cousin of Billi’s.And why not a floating coffee hut? After all, according to market research firm IBISWorld, the U.S. coffee industry produces about $10 billion in annual sales and enjoyed annual growth of 4.2 percent from 2008 to 2013.

For Billi Perkins, though, it is not really about the money. It is about being on the lake.

“Where is there a better place?” asked Perkins. “Even if I don’t have any business,LED Downlights and recessed LED Ceiling Lighting retrofits turn energy gobbling light fixtures into energy saving. I don’t care because I am on the lake.This new bulb technology lets you remotely-control your energy-efficient lighting at the same cost as a traditional T10 tube lighting. Like our sign says, ‘If you’re lucky enough to be on the lake you’re lucky enough.’ That’s kind of my motto. It’s so beautiful out here. I love it.”

There has to be a real love there because running a floating coffee hut comes with a whole different set of problems. For starters, because it is floating on a lake it has to be registered as a boat and have life jackets at the ready. And even though she is surrounded by water, potable is one of her biggest issues.

“Water is my biggest commodity,” said Perkins. “I have to monitor my water so much. I cannot waste a drop because we have to haul it all in and we have to bring it all home.”There is also the problem of power. Perkins uses a trickle charger solar panel to run her water pump and lectricity. For everything she has a generator.“Because I run by generator, I have to watch my amperage. If I run too much I blow my generator,” she said.To keep from blowing the generator takes a little bit of coordination. When the coffee pot is on, the blender is off she joked.

Perkins would like to get power run to her hut from Long Island, but the cost is steep. She said Matanuska Electric Association quoted her $15,000.“Right now I can run my generator for eight hours on a gallon of gas, which is around $5. Perkins said she has also looked into solar and wind, but the price for that is still too much.“We did some pretty intensive research,” she said. “It would cost close to $25,000 and take up most of our island.”

Another big challenge is the help. Just because you know how to make a cup of coffee doesn’t mean you can run this coffee stand. There is a whole other skill set needed.Perkins said that because the hut is on a lake and power comes from a generator, she can’t hire just anybody. “I have to know they can handle the boat, the generator the water, all that.”Probably one of the biggest challenges for the floating coffee stand is weather.We are a professional supplier of LED Aluminum Bulb.

“If there is nobody on the lake I have no customers,” she said. “But on a sunny day I am hopping. You’d be surprised how much coffee you sell on a sunny day.Still, the business has been fun and has continued to grow. Before they were anchored to an island, they would move around the lake from spot to spot.

Perkins said they would bounce around from place to place anchoring,Our T8 tube lights bulbs are cost effective and energy efficient. but she would come across folks who would tell her they could never find her on the lake. So when they came across the small island they grabbed it up.Perkins said they found this little island that you can’t really do anything with except tie to. “So we bought it and have been here ever since.”

Although she admits being mobile was kind of cool — in fact, the first summer they were open they did deliveries and dock-to-dock sales to help drum up business.We can produce LED Circular Tube according to your requirements.“We got in the boat and took a generator and a blender and ran the shoreline,” she said. “We literally were going door to door selling smoothies.”

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