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Column: Java Junction offers small town comfort and caffeine

by Tori Martinez - Lifestyles Editor
Tue, Mar 28th 2017 10:00 pm
Photos taken by Tara Kiah/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Java Junction is Main Street's premiere place for good coffee and good food at a great price. It has been providing Brockport residents with a comforting environment and warm cups of caffeine for almost 25 years.
Photos taken by Tara Kiah/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Java Junction is Main Street's premiere place for good coffee and good food at a great price. It has been providing Brockport residents with a comforting environment and warm cups of caffeine for almost 25 years.
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What is it about coffee shops that make some people feel a little happier when they walk out than they were before they went in? Is it the prices? The warm and cozy feeling they get when they're sitting at a table, both hands wrapped around a steaming ceramic mug or paper cup? Is it because they've just had their first sip of coffee, the one they crave most mornings? For any and all of these reasons, people typically have a specific coffee shop or café they go to when they need their fix. For many coffee, tea and cappuccino lovers in Brockport, that shop is Java Junction, perfect for a quick stop on the way to school, a quiet place to read or study, or just a nice spot for an afternoon hangout.

I haven't gone to Java Junction as much as I would have liked to this semester. I vowed to start waking up early so I could start my day off with a decent cup of coffee in a calm, relaxed atmosphere, maybe sitting in one of the booths reading a book or lounging on the couch, watching people and cars pass by through the window. I've been in a couple of times don't get me wrong, just not in the way I envisioned I would. 

I discovered Java Junction last summer. My boyfriend showed me the coffee shop because he said it had the cheapest and best coffee and bagel sandwiches he had ever had, both of which are true statements. I have literally never seen cheaper coffee anywhere. This is significant, because regular coffee drinkers need to find the best deals they can. Take the price of a medium coffee for example: $2.10 at Starbucks, $1.89 at Dunkin Donuts, $1.79 at Tim Hortons and $1.65 at Java Junction. Even Jitterbugs Cafe in the Seymour College Union, who sells Java Junction coffee, has a medium coffee priced at $1.99.

Java Junction's owner Peter Apicella roasts the coffee right in the back of the store, which you will never see at a chain shop. You can literally see the roaster through a clear glass window in the back right of the store. He orders coffee beans, which he said comes in 160-pound bags and are actually green; the beans don't turn brown until they're roasted. He roasts coffee weekly and is always using and selling his beans within a few weeks, ensuring they never lose freshness. He even flavors his own coffee, like vanilla nut and pumpkin spice. 

I can tell you from nearly four years of experience at Tim Hortons that all they have to do is put an order in with the company they get coffee from and it's shipped in a big box with a couple hundred packets of ground coffee. Who knows how old that coffee is and where it came from. If there's one thing to know about coffee, it's that freshness is critical and the quality of the coffee's taste will decrease if exposed to air for too long and if it isn't used relatively soon after it's roasted.

Apicella graduated from The College at Brockport with a business degree in 1989 and opened Java Junction on Main Street almost exactly four years later in May 1993, except it was two doors down from its current location, which Apicella moved to in 1995. He bought his coffee from local roasters in the beginning, but decided to buy his own roaster when he switched buildings, and since then, he's done it all himself. Even before roasting his own coffee, he flavored the beans himself. 

"I always did that, even before I didn't roast coffee," Apicella said. "I would get bulk Columbian coffee from [CanalTown Coffee Roasters in Rochester] and I bought my flavorings and did it myself."

After he bought his first roaster, he started working with the college to sell his coffee on campus. He first had a little coffee-cart- on wheels in the Union, but when Jitterbugs opened up across from the bookstore, the college shut down the cart and started selling his coffee in Jitterbugs. Apicella's coffee is also sold in Aerie Cafe in the library.

Java Junction not only sells coffee, it doubles as a restaurant. There's another menu, separate from the drink and bagel menu on the wall behind the counter, with different breakfast and lunch options. This was not originally part of the cafe, but added on a few years after Apicella moved into the current building. You can order at the counter or just ask for a menu and sit wherever you want, and someone will come take your order. 

The day I went in to speak with Apicella, I saw college president Heidi R. Macpherson having lunch with someone. I wanted to ask her what she thought about the place, but she looked deep in conversation, so I'll take her just being there as a stamp of approval. 

I have to rave about Java's prices. You won't understand until you go in. A small coffee is $1.16. I repeat: a mere $1.16. If you get it in one of the cute little mugs to drink while in the shop, your first refill is free and every refill after is only 30 cents. Are you understanding that for $2.06 you can have five cups of coffee? This is just outrageous to me. I worked at a Tim Hortons in Buffalo when I was in high school - the chains prices are ingrained in my memory and I can tell you none of them compare. Never have I seen such a steal. Don't you worry, non-coffee drinkers - tea, hot chocolate, espresso drinks and much more are just as cheap.

I think what surprises me so much is that I automatically expect a small business to cost  more than large corporations. I understand small businesses usually have to have higher prices: paying the bills, paying their employees and trying to make a decent profit costs more for them with a single store than a corporation with hundreds or thousands. 

When I asked Apicella how he keeps his prices so low, he asked me, "I mean, how much can you charge for a cup of coffee?" 

After thinking about this for a few days, I have decided that I will only buy my coffee from Java Junction, unless it's closed or I can't get there. Why would I continue buying coffee from a chain? I don't know where the coffee is coming from, the prices are more expensive and I don't know who my money is going to. When I go to Java Junction, I will save about 20 cents each time, I'll know that the coffee is freshly roasted each week and I'll feel good about knowing that my money went to support a Brockport alumnus who built this business from the ground up almost 25 years ago.

To know the story behind the creation of your favorite coffee shop is something that will always remind you why you go there. 


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Taken by Mathieu Starke, staff photographer

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