Grand Central offers an array of drinks for all tastes

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Never tried coffee? Don't worry says Grand Central Coffee Station owner John Keenen because the shop likely has a flavor that will appeal to your taste buds. The shop offers over a dozen freshly brewed coffees in a variety of flavors as well as a wide variety of mochas, lattes, cappuccinos, americanos and granitas. Got a sweet tooth? Keenen recommends trying a turtle latte which he says is a favorite of all ages at the coffee shop and often a good choice for those who've never tried coffee. The drink offers an expresso flavor with a touch of chocolate, caramel, whipped cream and steamed milk. Keenen says for those who have never tried coffee he recommends asking for only one shot of expresso to begin with just to get a "taste of coffee."

A latte which features espresso and steamed milk can also include a flavoring that appeals to the customer's taste buds including fruity flavors like apple, banana, blueberry, peach and pineapple. Other flavors include butterscotch, caramel, chocolate peanut butter, praline, peppermint and pumpkin spice, add one flavor or a couple, he says. Keenan says he's had some pretty interesting requests including a fruity flavored latte which included pineapple flavouring, another one had a combination of blueberry and peach flavouring but he says everyone has their own individual tastes for what they like. In the granitas the shop uses its own expresso beans which offers a "unique flavor," Keenan says some shops only use a powdered base. Like chocolate? Try a mocha, recommends Keenan.

Signature drinks

"Something we take a lot of pride in is our signature drinks," says Keenen. "They are created by (our) employees, tasted by (our) customers." Last year the coffee shop employees created 26 different drinks and had them tested and judged by customers. The drinks that won are now featured on the shop's drink menu. "It gave the employees a sense of ownership," he says. And it was a fun way to interact with customers as well he says. Current signature flavors include the World War 2 Mocha where chocolate and other rich flavors collide, Sweetdreams Latte that include a creamy caramel and nutty combination and Hawaii 5-0 mocha that provides a white chocolate and fruity sensation for the taste buds. Keenen says they are looking forward to doing another contest, possibly sometime this summer. The shop offers speciality drinks for holidays and for St. Patrick's Day drinks include Nutty Irishman, Shamrock Italian soda and Mint Mocha coffee.

Need caffeine? Keenan says typically three shots of espresso is about the amount of caffeine that can be found in one cup of coffee. Keenan says he remembers a request from a customer for 12 shots of espresso, a "quite intense," amount of espresso and caffeine, he says with a chuckle. For those non-coffee drinkers the shop also offers a variety of smoothie drinks, pop, juice, hot chocolate and tea. Keenan says a pastry, roll or bagel is also a nice accompaniment to a hot cup of whatever drink you choose. In addition the shop also offers a selection of sandwiches, soups and salads and Gelato Italian ice cream.

The shop recently celebrated its fifth year in business at it's location on W. Fifth St. Keenan and his wife Karen originally from Storm Lake returned here after living in Washington and decided to go after their dream of owning their own coffee shop. The business was featured in the magazine "Our Iowa," and won the 2005 Storm Lake Chamber Business of the Year award. Keenan says they would like to expand sometime in the future and possibly add another location in the area. For more information visit