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Downtown Petoskey Perks Up

Kristi Kates - May 5th, 2014  

Things in downtown Petoskey are perking up for diehard coffee lovers. North Perk Coffee blends a modernmeets-rustic aesthetic with a locally sourced sensibility that’s got locals and visitors alike pouring in.


Former English teacher Brittany Brubaker and her boyfriend John McNeil share owner/manager duties at North Perk, and are both at the shop daily.

“Having my own shop has always been a dream,” said Brubaker. “We fell in love with Petoskey; the downtown Gaslight shopping district was already great, but we knew that we would be able to offer the community a ‘third space’ that was missing.”

The duo wanted a space that would welcome everyone, McNeil said.

“A coffee shop is rewarding [to run] on a daily basis, because of the connection you make with customers,” he said. “We are working hard and having fun!”


Working solely with Michigan roasteries, North Perk brews two roasters’ beans daily: Higher Grounds Trading Co. from Traverse City, and Magnum Coffee Roastery from Nunica/Spring Lake.

They choose “guest” coffees in a “tap house” style to feature the best of other roasters on a rotating basis, Brubaker said.

“The roasting companies we partner with are able to do important work in the coffee industry,” she said. “[The source farms] provide high quality coffees that are fair-trade and organic.”


French press coffee as a single or double serving has already become a North Perk speciality.

“French press is my personal favorite way to enjoy a great cup,” Brubaker said.

The North Perk latte has become a best seller. In it, Cubano-style espresso shots are pulled with raw sugar and whipped up into latte form.

“Our regulars will tell you that it’s a must try!” she said.

Rounding out the menu is the usual complement of espresso drinks, plus tea, chai, hot chocolate, and smoothies.

Almond milk and soy milk are offered as dairy alternatives, and Culligan water is used for all drinks, Brubaker said.


Local, local, local is a big part of North Perk’s mantra. They try to work with as many local companies in general, using bakeries like Johan’s, Crooked Tree Breadworks, and My Sister’s Bake Shop for their daily baked goods, bagels, cookies, and granola bars, some of which are gluten-free and/or vegan.

“Our main focus is providing great drinks, but we also offer a variety of locally sourced foods,” Brubaker said. “We regularly have specials like coffee and a donut, or a bagel and soup – just enough for a quick breakfast or lunch.”


The local mindset also applies to North Perk’s décor. They’ve built their counter from area barn wood, have a locally built stand up paddleboard as wall art, and even had their aprons embroidered locally.

The atmosphere however, is purely theirs. “The shop welcomes you with the smell of coffee from the moment you step in the door, as we don’t have other food-cooking smells mixing in,” Brubaker said. “It’s so inviting – a great meeting place.”

North Perk Coffee is located at 410 E. Lake St. in downtown Petoskey. For hours and specials, telephone (231) 373-0796, visit, or its Facebook page.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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