Sandy Bruens mixes one of her iced coffee creations. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)
Sandy Bruens mixes one of her iced coffee creations. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

New coffee menu at Caruso’s

Published 8:00am Thursday, April 24, 2014

After nearly a century in business, owners of Caruso’s Candy and Soda Shop are still not afraid to shake things up and try something new.

Earlier this month, the downtown Dowagiac confectionary shop combined forces with Bruens Brewins to bring a selection of specialty coffees to customers. With beverages ranging from iced coconut mocha macchiatos to “dreamsicle” flavored smoothies, the store now offers a variety of unique flavors to thirsty shoppers throughout the day.

“We’re excited to bring something new, not only to the business but to the downtown as well,” said owner Julie Johnson. “It will only increase our traffic and awareness around town.”

The new products were introduced to Johnson and the rest of the Caruso’s staff by Sandy Bruens, who began working at the shop in January. Bruens had previously owned and operated her own mobile coffee trailer, which she purchased from Double K Coffee owner Wendy Grover last year, Bruens said.

Breaking into the specialty coffee business was something that the former daycare operator dreamed about for years, despite the fact that she was never a heavy coffee drinker herself, she said.

“I always loved the smell of it, and people around here love their coffee, so I knew I wouldn’t have any problems finding customers,” she said.

Last year, she brought her Bruens Brewins business to number of functions around the community, including the fall’s Under the Harvest Moon Festival downtown, where her drinks were well received by customers. However, she closed the mobile shop for the winter season, and was hired by Johnson to help around the candy store.

“After she got here, we had a few deep discussions, and then we decided to bring her coffee into the store and into our downtown area,” Johnson said.

Bruens’s assortment of drinks cater to a market of coffee lovers that have been underserved in Dowagiac, Johnson said. While a group of gentlemen have frequented the store for coffee for years, the owner hopes that the spruced-up drinks will make the Front Street eatery a destination for even more people looking for their first shot of caffeine in the morning or for a nice pick-me-up later in the day.

Something that makes Bruens’s coffee stand out from competitors is the fact that, like the shop’s assortment of chocolate, the coffee is made by hand, Johnson said.

“We incorporate as much of the Caruso’s menu in the drinks as we can, using our homemade chocolate syrup and flavorings from our fountain,” Johnson said.

Bruens will continue to operate her mobile coffee store during festivals and other community gatherings, selling Caruso’s candy alongside her regular menu, she said.

Whether they’ve been frequenting the shop for decades or are just visiting Dowagiac for the weekend, Johnson encourages customers to stop by and sample the new coffee menu, and check out the rest of their sweet treats while they’re visiting.

“What better way to jump-start your day than with a coffee from Sandy and piece of chocolate from our kitchen,” Johnson said.

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