“I do give credit to other coffee companies for paving the way,” says Brenda Jolly, owner with her husband Casey, of Jolly Roasters Coffee Company in Port Warwick and Virginia Beach, “but we are on the wave of global expansion for coffee.”
Brenda Jolly was born in Virginia Beach and Casey was born in New York. The military brought Casey to Virginia Beach, where their relationship blossomed over coffee from a convenience store, according to their web site. “Everybody likes coffee! And now we are on a never-ending journey in search of the perfect cup,” she says.
The Jollys were stationed near Tokyo, Japan for three years. “We found great coffee there. We started checking out local shops and roasters. It became an obsession. We even planned our travel around café locations,” Brenda says. Living outside Tokyo and finding it difficult to get their “artisan coffee fix,” they decided to roast their own. Their first roaster was a stovetop popcorn popper. They soon graduated to a real “home” roaster.
It was in Virginia Beach that Brenda and Casey decided to launch Jolly Roasters. At first they roasted small batches and shipped directly to customers. The specialty coffee was fresh-roasted, whole bean or ground. The beans came from locations such as Guatemala, New Guinea, Peru and Ethiopia. They also developed a “signature dark roast.” Brenda’s favorite is Yirgacheffe from Ethiopia. Their wholesale business sold to restaurants, cafes and bakeries. They advertised online and sold nationwide.
In early January of this year the Jollys opened a coffee shop in Newport News. They already had a location in Virginia Beach in the Meyera Oberndorf Central Library.
“Hip Innovative Studio and Boutique was looking for a coffee shop to share its Port Warwick location. It has been a good match,” says Brenda. There are 12 employees at both locations.
“We encourage customers to experience coffee in a new way,” Brenda says. “No one is doing what we are doing—not in Newport News—not yet. It’s exciting to be the first. But they will come,” she adds. This is a “coffee desert” according to Brenda. Other shops use a different grinding style. “This area is primed for something new,” she adds. Portland and Seattle are still considered the American coffee hubs, Brenda says. “There is a massive market out there as people become more educated,” she says.
The roasting equipment is Japanese made. There is a “cold brew,” which is brewed in cold water for 17 hours. The nitro cold brew is creamy with a “head,” making it look like beer. Decaffeinated coffee is prepared with a Swiss water process—not a chemical process. No flavors are added. The flavors occur naturally in the bean itself; roasting brings them out. Flavor depends on region, altitude, amount of sun and processing method. For example, the Guatemalan cold brew has a chocolate/fruity flavor. Coffees brewed hot taste better as they cool. The “cortado,” cappuccino and latte are mixtures of espresso and milk, ranging from least milk to most. There are 800 organic compounds in coffee.
In addition to a variety of coffees, the cafés offer food. There are pastries, specialty “toasts” (such as avocado) and a treat that Brenda created: a slice of banana bread with an espresso mascarpone topping and honey drizzle.
Brenda plans to offer “coffee cuppings” (think wine tastings). Look for them on Instagram or Facebook. At this time, Jolly Roasters mostly advertises online. To introduce more of the public to their products, the Jollys also attend farmers’ markets, especially in Norfolk and at Buckroe Beach.
The Jollys are parents of four children. “I am very fortunate to have family and other help so that I can spend time at the cafés,” Brenda says. Casey has a full-time job elsewhere; however, he is involved in the roasting part of the business. “I spend a lot of time on the road between our two cafés.”
When the family can travel, their “go to” spot is Long Island, New York, where they visit family and cafés. “I am really blessed,” says Brenda. “I am able to do everything I love. It’s not really like work. Life is like a pie and each piece is important.”
“We have been well received in Newport News,” she says. “I am looking forward to bringing a new coffee experience to the Peninsula.”
TO THE POINT:
Jolly Roasters Coffee Company
Address: 2170 William Styron Square, South, Newport News VA 23602
Contacts: Brenda and Casey Jolly, owners