Businesses Network Over Coffee at B-Java
|(top) B-Java's cafe latte
(below) BJ Davis
|Photos by Linda Karn
(posted Apr 7)
Tom Lauth and Jason Smathers are just one example of the business synergy
that form at B-Java, an espresso coffee shop. B- Java, located at 5510
Lafayette Road, is independently owned by BJ Davis. Some people might remember
B-Java's location as the former Stanton Coffee.
Davis admits she was slightly rattled when Starbucks opened its doors within a football's throw from her about four years ago. Even with Starbucks adding a drive-thru, Davis is not giving up because she knows she has something better to offer.
Customer Clint Fultz contends the difference between Starbucks and B-Java
is the socialization aspect. B-Java's atmosphere encourages strangers to
strike up conversations. "They are more open and willing to socialize
here," he said.
Davis tries to know her customers and their business so she can match businesses
in need of services.
Lauth credited Davis for connecting him with Smathers for information technology
help. Lauth, who operates a private investigation business, needed assistance
with computer forensics.
It is the customer mentality of not wanting to try something new that bothers
Davis the most about chain stores. People will patronize brand name stores
out of familiarity, even if it is mediocre, to avoid the risk of trying
an unknown independent store.
She admits the chain stores are successful at branding, but after doing some introspection, Davis realizes branding would be different for her store. "I have been thinking and branding is really me." She decided to break that customer mentality of familiarity by touting her experience and the use of local vendors for her chocolate, honey and shagbark hickory syrup.
Coffee houses were big in the 1950s and early 1960s but died off. Davis
has been involved in the coffee business for 14 years, starting when specialty
coffees slowly started to make a come back. She is a member of the Specialty
Coffee Association of America Barista Guild and is involved in competing
and judging barista contests.
"A true barista knows the mechanics of coffee. It is not slamming coffee in a cup. There's quite a bit of romance to coffee. I think of coffee as a culinary art. It is just as complex as wine," she said.
Espresso is the concentrated form of coffee that is brewed under pressure
at certain temperatures, depending upon the coffee. A good espresso will
have layers The light color is the crema that gives it its sweetness. She
said when water is added to espresso it is called Cafe Americana. She said
the cafe latte's foamy appearance comes from injecting the right balance
of heated milk and air into the espresso. She emphasized the importance
of having a proper balance because it changes the sugar structure than
can give it a pudding smell.
Davis has expanded the menu by adding items like smoothies, scones, bread
pudding, toast and quiche, baked oatmeal and cookies. Davis is still working
on fine tuning her baked oatmeal that she discovered in Milwaukee while
visiting a coffee shop. "I never heard of Baked Oatmeal until the
trip," she said. Davis was so impressed with the dish, she decided
that she would add it to her menu once she developed a lower fat recipe.
Davis not only uses her own culinary skills, but she is letting her newly-hired
barista Andy Gilman offer his 2nd place State Fair Cinnamon Rolls. The
only thing holding Davis back from introducing the rolls is finding kitchen
space to let the dough rise.
She also promotes a different local artist each month by having an art show in her store. Cindy Cradle's art pieces are currently hanging on the walls.
Davis invites all to share their artwork and tap into their talents. She
said a lady dropped off a book titled "Make Art in Coffee Shops".
It is an empty book of white pages designed to allow coffee drinkers to
write poems, draw or do any kind of creative expression.