Story last updated at 10/30/2013 - 4:23 pm
Eight taste bud dancing flavors of fresh sherbet line a freezer at Coppa, and the smell of fresh coffee and pieces of whatever owner Marc Wheeler's next concoction is wafts through the air.
Wheeler has been making ice cream for the past five years, and this year his rhubarb sherbet delighted many dessert foodies this summer when he began operating a food cart at Food Truck Fridays.
"It was so rewarding," Wheeler said. "I always wanted to do something with food, but I thought it would take the joy out of cooking."
It didn't, so Wheeler started planning in July to open a storefront. The building where his store is now located was being remodeled and served as Wheeler's ideal place for an ice cream/coffee shop - in "the flats" next to the Federal Building. Coppa opened its doors on Sept. 23.
"I just love to cook," Wheeler said. "I love to cook for other people. I've worked in kitchens before, but I'm not a chef."
Wheeler actually started making raspberry sherbet for other people, but with the abundance of rhubarb in Juneau he decided to try that out.
"People loved the rhubarb more than the raspberry," Wheeler said. "There's only so many rhubarb pies you can eat. It's so much fun to make ice cream. You can incorporate a lot of flavors."
Wheeler likes to add in local twists - such as beer from Alaska Brewing Company - and he's experimenting with creating a smoked salmon ice cream. He makes two ice creams with Alaska Brewing Company's beer - a smoked porter brownie and a pumpkin porter ginger snap.
"I think I'm going to work on a butter beer with their oatmeal stout," he said.
Apart from that, his flavors include a blueberry RedBull, Madagascar vanilla bean, green tea, plum plum cake, caramel candy corn, coffee chocolate almond and many more. You can find the daily list at www.coppa.biz.
Wheeler's Halloween menu will be caramel candy corn, malted milk chocolate with Whoppers, butterbeer Butterfinger, pumpkin five spice and blood sherbet.
Coppa's ice cream machine can make six quarts of ice cream in eight minutes. Wheeler said he makes about six gallons per day.
If you're not feeling up for a cold treat, Coppa also makes fresh baked goods daily. Wheeler thinks it's the perfect combo because if the baked goods don't sell well on a particular day, he can chop them up and mix it into his ice cream.
Wheeler's long term goal with the shop is to simply make people happy.
"Coffee or ice cream make people happy," Wheeler said. "I provide quality customer service and make people feel at home."
Though he also hopes to someday get into wholesale production. He's got a sponsorship from Haa Aaní's Path to Prosperity program.
Wheeler also includes local artists and participates in the First Friday gallery walk. He wants the shop to be a place where young and old feel welcome and at home. He also tried to highlight local wood products in the shop, with western hemlock tables from Icy Straight Lumber, and a countertop out of yellow cedar from the same company.
Coppa is open Monday-Thursday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Halloween night will be open until 8 p.m.
Coppa is also on facebook at www.facebook.com/coppa.alaska
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