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Coffee is his craft

Student manages Java Jays Coffee Bar

Staff writer

For Austin Calam, co-manager of Java Jays Coffee Bar, coffee is more than just a morning beverage and a coffee shop is more than just a place to grab your coffee and leave.

Rather, coffee is his craft and the on-campus, student-run coffee shop at Tabor College is his place to create and savor the depths of a coffee bean.

“Coffee is like any other craft or art in the way that the amount of dedication and consistency that you have with it, the higher quality you’ll get out of it,” he said. “It’s something you can continue to practice and get better at. There’s not any point in which you hit the ceiling.”

Calam, a senior in graphic design, is responsible for coffee quality and control at Java Jays. He said he has placed a high priority on producing a fine product for their customers, which are primarily Tabor students.

“We recently have been pushing a higher-quality coffee,” Calam said.

Over the last year, the shop has updated its equipment and switched to locally-roasted coffee beans from Reverie Coffee Roasters in Wichita.

“Above anything, we want to provide consistent, top-quality, coffee and good customer service with speed,” he said.

In doing so, Calam hopes the coffee bar will become a place the Hillsboro community can call home.

“It’s providing a good-tasting product, a fast product, and friendly customer service in a space where people can feel comfortable studying and visiting,” he said. “We want to be that place in Hillsboro where the community comes and meets with their friends and coworkers — the place where people can get away from home.”

Lou Thurston, a Hillsboro local who is running for mayor, is one of about 10 men who visit Java Jays about three times a week. The group agrees that Java Jays’ new coffee bean makes for a “strong and industrial” cup of coffee that keeps them coming back.

“I think we’re responsible for the self-serve option here because we don’t drink those foufou drinks,” Thurston said. A 12-ounce cup of self-serve coffee is $1.00, or 50 cents more for a 16-ounce cup.

For those who prefer the fancier drinks that Thurston and the men steer away from, Java Jays offers blended coffee, americanos, lattes, and smoothies.

And, with an array of syrups including English coffee, Irish cream, and pumpkin pie, Calam said he and the other employees are trained to help you find your perfect cup.

“I enjoy that there’s a great kind of opportunity to educate the general population on what coffee can be — it can be more than your average cup of coffee you get at any restaurant or fast food place,” he said. “There’s great potential for flavor where coffee doesn’t just taste like coffee. It can taste like anything from chocolate to nutty flavor notes to floral-tasting notes to fruity-tasting notes.”

Calam discovered his passion for helping people find their perfect cup while working as a barista at Sea Level Bakery and Coffee, a coffee shop on the Oregon coast, before he transferred from Ecola Bible College to Tabor. While in Oregon, he was trained by Stumptown Coffee Roasters, one of the biggest coffee companies in the Portland area.

He said he passes what he learned in training down to his 10 employees.

“I would greatly enjoy working with coffee throughout the rest of my life, if possible,” he said.

For the summer, Java Jays is located in the Schlichting Center on the Tabor College campus and is open from 7:30-11:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

They will return to their main location in the student center Tuesday. In the center, they will maintain their same morning hours in addition to added evening hours — 8-11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

Calam said he and the other employees have their favorite drinks, but that is not what they will recommend if you ask what is good.

“I recommend what people enjoy,” he said. “We encourage our workers to ask what people would get elsewhere — what they have enjoyed in the past — and to really create something that is catered to their tastes. We have our favorites, but we want to serve what the customer would enjoy based on what they tell us.”

Last modified Aug. 17, 2017

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