ELKHART — The Electric Brew has become one of the top local coffee shops and social establishments in two downtown areas — Elkhart and Goshen.

In Elkhart, The Brew is located at 113 E. Lexington Ave. while in Goshen, it's at 118 Washington St. But more than a coffee stop, The Brew offers comfortable places to work casually, read or listen to local music.

Owner Myron Bontrager never expected to own a coffee shop and here's why:

Q: Why name it The Electric Brew?

A: The owners before me were looking at a different building, which was the old cobbler called The Electric Shoe. They decided they were going to use that building and decided to call it The Electric Brew.

Q: How many people usually come in on a daily basis?

A: In Goshen, we probably have 300 transactions a day. In Elkhart, we are probably at a fourth of that here.

Q: What about live performances?

A: We used do a lot of live performances down in Goshen, but we don’t do it anymore in Goshen because of licensing issues. When we opened up here we wanted to do some live performances, but I refused to get a license for here. For several reasons, one is the cost and the other thing is that there are plenty of places for a band to do cover songs and sing other people’s music, so if I get a license they are going to do that here, but if I don’t get a license, artists have to perform their original music and nobody else’s.

So for me there are several threads about the whole thing, I think that music in a coffee shop sort of go together. Then you have to also think "what kind of music do you want?" It’s all original music and it’s more acoustic, so we don’t have as many bands playing because it overwhelms the place. A lot of the music ends up being sort of in the folk singer/songwriter genre. Which I think fits in very well in this venue because they can have the music playing and I could sit here and still talk to my friend.

Q: What other events do you have besides live performances?

A: We have had one evening, there is a movie called, "The Story of Coffee." It digs into the farm-to-cup process of coffee. I got permission to show it and we had a number of people came and we did a coffee to cup. We had different coffees, and they just tasted the coffee and I did a little education on coffee.

Q: When did you start getting into the coffee business?

A: Way too late in life. You never start a new career at 50, but I did. We lived in Costa Rica for a while and we would walk the street of Costa Rica, and I would smell this fresh aroma of coffee and roasted peanuts, so I would smell it and say, "What an amazing smell." So I buy fresh coffee and take it home and brew it. I always thought it would be a fun thing to do. The idea of opening up a brewery in the back of my mind. Probably 12 to 13 years ago I did a little research and discovered that you can roast coffee, so I started to do that at home.

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