When Rita McIntire began working for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District four years ago, she noticed the tap water in the building didn’t taste very good.
“I don’t know if the filter’s not working, but it’s not the best water,” said McIntire, who works in the district’s accounts payable office. “It’s pretty bad; some places just have rust and calcium in the water.”
McIntire and her colleagues now use bottled water from Alaska’s Best Water & Coffee.
“It’s real convenient,” she said. “We use it for our coffeepots just to make sure it’s clean water.”
Alaska’s Best Water & Coffee and Alaska Pure Water Products are two companies with one owner. Michael Alfano operates Alaska’s Best Water & Coffee and, since 2016, its former competitor, Alaska Pure Water Products.
Alfano said Alaska Pure Water Products handles residential and commercial water treatment systems, cabin water packages and water-softening systems; it also sells storage tanks, “anything from 2,500 gallons down to 25-gallon tanks,” and fills water bottles at its store located off International Airport Road. The company also sells water-analysis kits, filters, salt, spa supplies, plumbing parts and pieces. You can also find their one-gallon bottled water at retail stores.
“We do free water analysis,” Alfano said. “Customers drop off a water sample, free of charge, and we’ll give you a report.
“If it’s related to water, we’ve got you covered.” Alaska’s Best Water & Coffee specializes in bottled water delivery and office coffee service .
Alaska Pure Water Products is an 18-year AGC of Alaska member that specializes in residential and commercial water treatment systems and sells water storage tanks and related equipment and water products. Photos courtesy Michael Alfano
Charles Best founded Alaska’s Best Water in 1983; its current owner, Paul Ingrim, purchased the company in 1989, employing one driver who serviced Anchorage and Mat-Su. As the need for quality drinking water increased, Ingrim realized his bottling facility would not be capable of handling that growth, so he invested in a state-of-the-art bottling facility to better serve the needs of his customers.
Since then, Alfano said, the company has been growing through its acquisition of other bottled-water companies on the Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage and Mat-Su.
Alaska’s Best Water & Coffee delivers to more than 5,000 businesses throughout Southcentral Alaska.
“We service a lot of the oil companies on the Kenai Peninsula,” Alfano said. “In Anchorage, name a business. We deliver to petroleum companies, construction companies. They’re pretty much all our customers because they need bottled water on their job sites.”
In a few years, the two companies will move in together under one roof in a 25,000-square-foot structure planned for land that’s now being cleared near Minnesota Drive and Raspberry Road in Anchorage.
“Realistically, we’re looking at a three-year project,” Alfano said.
Alaska's Best Water & Coffee's first bottling machine. Alaska Pure Water Products' sibling company, Alaksa's Best Water & Coffee, now has a machine that bottles 350 bottles of water an hour.
Alaska Pure Water Products has been an AGC of Alaska member for 18 years, and that membership conveys many benefits, Alfano said. “We have a good relationship, they trust us,” he added, referring to the AGC members who became Alaska’s Best Water & Coffee’s customers. “They recommend our company. (Membership has) more than paid for itself over the years, just through referrals.”
The company produces 10,000 gallons of bottled water per day, five days a week, Alfano said. “That’s at our South Gambell Street address. We have a machine that bottles 350 bottles of water an hour.”
The bottling process is intricate, involving multiple-stage filtration of water through 70-, 50-, 30- and 20-micron filters before it is stored in a 13,500-gallon tank. At that point, the water moves through a water softener, granulated activated carbon filter, through a 5-micron filter, into a reverse-osmosis machine and finally gets treated with ozone and UV light to prevent bacterial growth.
A fleet of 10 vehicles delivers the bottles of water — as well as 50 flavors of K-cups, Steam Dot and Café Excellence roasted coffee products — throughout the Southcentral region. “We do whole bean to fractional — ‘frac-pack’ ground coffee packets used in Newco-Bunn-type coffeemakers — to single-cup coffees,” Alfano explained.
A client with a decade of history using Alaska’s Best Water & Coffee is Bailey’s Furniture.
Co-owner Ron Bailey said Alaska’s Best Water & Coffee employees regularly service his business’ seven stores throughout Anchorage, Soldotna, Fairbanks and Mat-Su.
“All our stores need good, clean water and coffee to provide,” Bailey said. “They come in and do it all for you. They’re trustworthy. They know where our supply closet is in each particular store, the inventory, supplies. They come in and keep it replenished. It’s one less thing Ron has to worry about. Our customers love the complimentary water and coffee. Business is hard enough. When someone can make it easy for you, those are the type of people you like to work with.”
Tracy Kalytiak is a freelance writer from Palmer.