West Kittanning Pharmacy Offers Specialty Coffee

John Pratkanis sits at the counter of his new coffee bar at Hiland Pharmacy in West Kittanning.

A new coffee shop is now in West Kittanning, although located in an unlikely place.

Owner Jon Pratkanis has remodeled Hiland Pharmacy to now include a coffee bar.

“I like coffee!” Jon said. “I’m trying to bring something here that already isn’t in Kittanning.”

Although coffee drinkers date back into the 1800s, it wasn’t until about 20 years ago that specialty coffee shops began to spring up. Now that this generation has been exposed to Starbucks, it isn’t as content as their grandparents were, sitting in the 5&10, drinking black coffee served in mass quantities. They want a cup of coffee that defines their personality.

“Specialty coffee is a very popular thing in a lot of cities. We may be a small town, but it is good to have the opportunity to experience it.”

The building was remodeled to accommodate the new coffee bar.

“There has always been a bar with stools here and coffee, but not really done legitimately. I saw the opportunity to do it, so I decided to go for it.”

In addition to coffee, pastries are also available.

“We are getting a lot of good reviews. They are done by a couple of local bakeries. Common Place Coffee has been instrumental in getting us off the ground. They do the baking for their own stores and they said we could purchase from them as well. Their stuff is really good, so that was a no-brainer.”

The coffee counter is located to the left as you enter the building, but a counter to sit to drink coffee and eat pastries is on the right side. Customers who sit at the counter are looking out onto the parking lot and street.

“If someone wanted to come and get work done, or have a meeting, the counter is separate from the hustle and bustle of the front counter or register at the coffee bar. I don’t think it is uncommon to have seating at the front of a cafe or a coffee shop facing the window. For us, it just works well with the space,” Jon said.

The pharmacy originally opened in the fall of 1966 by Jon’s father, Richard. After 33 years, the business was sold to Eckerd Drug in the Fall of 1999. Hiland Pharmacy reopened officially on September 15, 2009.

“Personally I always like to achieve things I can call my own,” Jon said. “My dad had a very successful pharmacy over the years. Following in his footsteps is great because he did a great job. The coffee is just one of the few ideas. Now it’s just finding the time to do them. The coffee is easily expandable, so that is an option down the road. But I have some ideas to expand the pharmacy as well. We are remodeling the store itself from the way it was when Dad had it. That is the first big step – getting it to look the way I want it to look, then we will move on from there.”

Hiland Pharmacy is a one-store shop compared to its competition – Rite Aid and Klingensmith’s Drug Store, both with branches in West Kittanning. Jon said having just one store is his strength.

“The smaller the store is, the more concentrated it is on its customers on a personal level. When people come in, I know their name, the medicine they are taking, their dog’s name… The larger you get, the more you lose a grasp on those things. Chains may send out fliers and it makes them seem they are cheaper, but they areĀ  just trying to get you into the store. Thankfully, they are higher on stuff which gives us the advantage to the people who come here. We treat people the way I want to be treated and it is working for us.”

Jon said that he is pleased with his location in West Kittanning, as it is central to his customers.

“People know the pharmacy is here. It has been in the same location since my dad had it in the 60s, and even before him. People from downtown going to the mall stop here. People from Cowansville or Adrian can stop here before they would go downtown. So I think it is a great location.”

Jon, along with his employee, West Kittanning resident Stephanie Bures, are making a variety of coffee drinks.

“People like the lattes – a shot of espresso with steamed milk. It is really going well. We just started something called the chocolate cold brew. It is made using cold water, not hot, so it extracts the flavor a little differently. It is a little smoother. We add a little chocolate twist and it is catching on.”

Jon said the coffee business took him by surprise.

“Going into the coffee, I had no idea of the science behind it. There is specific knowledge that goes into producing a quality coffee from extraction percentages to the grind side to the amount of volume that passes through it at all. It all plays a part into the recipe that produces good coffee. I was shocked by the amount of information and the technique it took to produce good coffee.

“You can do the drip method, which is what most people are familiar with. But you can do black coffee using a pour-over method, in which you manually infuse water to the bean giving you a single drink, which is a personal touch. You are getting a handcrafted cup of coffee. The coffee bean can be done three different ways to bring about different styles of tastes.”

He still sells the standard cup of coffee for a dollar. But be adventurous. Try a new flavor from the many varieties he has to offer.

Stephanie Bures uses various machines to create various flavors of creations at the coffee bar in the Hiland Pharmacy.