Austin Calam’s vision for Java Jays Coffee Bar is to provide a place for students and community members to gather.
“I’d say, long-term, (to be) the place to hang out in Hillsboro,” said Calam, a local native. “Without a coffee shop, without any kind of hangout spot, it’s hard.… There’s not a place you can go to meet with clients or friends and just have a cup of coffee.”
Located for the summer in the Schlichting Center on the Tabor College campus, with parking off D Street, Java Jays held its grand opening in its new location Friday, June 9.
In addition to serving hot, cold and blended coffee, Java Jays also offers tea, fruit smoothies, blended coffee, chai, hot chocolate, lemonade and steamers, as well as the affogato, featuring a double shot of espresso poured over two scoops of vanilla ice cream.
Open 7:30-11:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday, Java Jays is a nonprofit entity run through Tabor and supervised by Jim Paulus, vice president for student life.
Calam is one of three co-managers. The others are Michael Prichard and Molly Wiebe Faber. All three are current Tabor students and have co-managed the coffee shop since last spring, each with unique roles.
Calam manages coffee-related needs, such as buying coffee, equipment functionality, worker training and quality control.
Prichard manages workers’ shifts and handles restocking needs.
Wiebe Faber also manages shifts and local inventory. Calam said Java Jays seeks to buy locally as much as possible.
Java Jays has around eight workers, Calam said, but that number fluctuates because of class schedules.
“All of our workers go through training, specifically, which is something I find very important,” he said. “They’re all trained to be able to pour latte art. It’s a difficult thing, but, as some people have said, it’s a way of really kind of separating OK coffee shops from good coffee shops.”
The new location and the addition of “Coffee Bar” to its name are just two of a handful of recent changes at Java Jays.
Last fall, Java Jays began using Reverie Coffee Roasters in Wichita as its supplier.
With particular attention paid to training, Calam expressed a continued trend toward product consistency through professional brewing methods.
In an effort to increase its online presence, Java Jays is now on Google Maps and has Facebook and Instagram pages.
Calam designed a new logo for Java Jays as part of a rebranding initiative for a Tabor class project.
Plans are also in progress for making Wi-Fi accessible to patrons, he said.
A passion for coffee
Calam’s interest in coffee stems from his time working at a coffee shop in Oregon. In fall 2015, while a second-year student at Ecola Bible College, Calam began working for Sea Level Bakery + Coffee in Cannon Beach.
“I did various jobs here and there,” he said. “(I became) proficient at cleaning actually, oddly enough.
“But through that, I was always asking questions about coffee, and I eventually was an official barista by the end of that year.”
Calam was trained at Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland.
“Through that, my interest kind of grew,” he said. “(I) have continued to do lots of independent studies on it. It’s been fun.”
Calam transferred to Tabor and began working at Java Jays last fall. In the spring, he transitioned to co-manager. He is studying graphic design and said there is a “good possibility” he will graduate next spring.
Calam said Java Jays will likely return to its location in the student center in the fall.
“Being in this location has helped attract community (members), just because of parking,” he said. “It’s closer. But when the school year comes around, that parking lot will be full with students’ (cars), so we’re looking into different possibilities of accessibility.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming school year, Calam said he hopes to continue the vision of the coffee shop.
“I’d love to continue managing Java Jays and to be able to pass that on, whether that’s to business students or someone else that has a passion for coffee, to keep that quality and the reputation up,” he said. “And to keep progressing in the direction it should go.”
Calam said the coffee shop has seen a consistent flow of customers. Popular summer drinks include iced lattes, blended coffee drinks and smoothies.
“It’s been steady,” he said. “Some days are slower than others. We’d like to fit it into people’s schedules and to put it in front of them more.
“Response has been good, I’d say. Could be better, but I think that’s also part of the nature of something new in people’s lives, and also just getting in front of them. Because if they don’t see it, they’re not going to come.”