Global Coffee With an Upstate Twist
The aroma of freshly brewed coffee drifts through the air as two men talk excitedly next to five-gallon buckets of roasted coffee beans. Dim lighting and soft music offer customers a gentle start to their morning. A large flatscreen in the corner is turned off. Behind the counter, a barista greets each customer with enthusiasm.
Lakeside Coffee is a small, family-owned coffee shop in Rouses Point, New York, just a short drive to Canada and Vermont. The shop is a go-to spot for locals to grab a coffee and a signature sandwich. The Bagelnator, an egg and cheese with two sausage patties, is a favorite.
The shop was originally opened in 2007 by Kris Duus, who planned to pass it on after 10 years. In 2017, Sonya and Norman Lague bought the store. Sonya worked at Lakeside in the years leading up to buying it.
“I loved the business, and I loved working here,” she said.
Before working there, Sonya was a stay-at-home mom, and Norman worked for the government. When their kids started school, Sonya wanted to get out and keep busy. This led to a job at Lakeside. When Norman was close to retirement, the couple decided that buying the shop was just what they needed. Lakeside gave the couple a purpose year round.
Unlike other coffee shops, Lakeside offers their seasonal flavors, like pumpkin spice and peppermint, year round.
“We have a regular who loves his peppermint drinks,” Sonya said. “He likes them all summer, so we have them.”
The Lakeside staff is so attuned to locals, some regulars don’t need to place their orders. The baristas already know what they want.
Aside from the main coffee shop, Lakeside is a wholesale coffee supplier and retailer. They provide roasts and blends for many North Country businesses such as Anthony’s Restaurant & Bistro, Chapter One: Coffee & Tea, Rulfs Orchard, High Peaks Brew and the North Country Food Co-Op.
The Lagues pride themselves on the fact that all of their coffee and espressos are roasted and brewed in-house. Behind the bar, five-gallon Lowe’s buckets and plastic storage bins are filled with coffee beans sourced from 10 countries: Ethiopia, Tanzania, Colombia, Nicaragua, Brazil, Sumatra, Peru, Guatemala, Uganda, Malawi.
Norman also enjoys being creative with his business. One of his favorite aspects of owning the shop is experimenting with new roasts and blends.
“He’s like a mad scientist,” Sonya said.
Beyond coffee, the Lagues aspire to have a broader impact on the community. The couple hold blood drives at the shop, encouraging the community to donate. Donors can receive a free small cup of coffee and an additional discount on food. They also host an annual fall festival where kids get their face painted, make crafts and receive a pumpkin for donating canned goods.
“Part of our mantra is working for the community and supporting the community,” Norman said.
Sonya and Norman love the atmosphere they’ve created in Lakeside. Through the shop, they’ve fostered meaningful connections with coffee, and their regulars have turned into friends.
Story by Ashley St. John
Photos by Clarice Knelly