Story By Hilary Brady
Photography By Wendy Hunt
Have you had your Sexual Chocolate today? Does Tanzanian Peaberry pique your interest? Will Organic Honduras heat you up? If these questions leave you feeling like you’re on a global escapade, you have evidently never ordered from a Jumpin’ Java Espresso menu. The popular coffee shop offers its customers uniquely named coffees that are almost as distinctive as the story behind the shop.
Daniel Beasley grew up in the capital city of Charleston, West Virginia, and was an energetic youth who loved all sports, from soccer to snowboarding. “Pretty much anything you throw in my face, I can have fun with,” says Daniel. Except school.
“I love to learn,” explains Daniel. “I’ve just never been a structured learner. It bores me.”
Daniel graduated high school and then enrolled at West Virginia University in pursuit of a business degree. But he was itching to get out and get going. In 2001 he decided to move, with his only struggle choosing between Denver for the snowboarding and Wilmington for the beach. “I went to Wilmington for a day and I loved it,” he says. “So I moved. I didn’t know anybody, but my family in West Virginia wouldn’t be too far away.”
Daniel worked a variety of jobs, saving money and enjoying the beach. But it wasn’t long before the structure of a schedule got to him once again. He and a friend decided to satisfy their need for spontaneity with travel, pursuing a dream of a cross-country road trip. Daniel packed his possessions away in storage and hit the road for three months. The pair traveled to major cities like Chicago, Denver, Seattle and New York City; they visited famous parks like Olympic National Park, Niagara Falls, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park and Yosemite, and took in the sights of national landmarks like Crater Lake and Cape Disappointment. They camped and lodged in hotels for months as they enjoyed life on the road, without a schedule.
Upon returning from the cross-country adventure, Daniel returned to West Virginia just long enough to earn money to move him back to coastal North Carolina. In September 2005 he settled in Shallotte. Daniel picked up odd jobs, working for Lowe’s Home Improvement and River’s Edge Golf Resort, where — you guessed it — the structure swallowed him whole. Aside from failing to find the perfect profession, Daniel maintained an enthusiasm for business. “I have read more than 100 business and personal success books since college,” says Daniel. “My passion is business.”
In April 2007 an ideal opportunity presented itself to the business-loving, adventure-seeking, structure-loathing Daniel. The owner of Jumpin’ Java Espresso, a Shallotte-based coffee shop founded in 2005, was ready to retire. “I decided that it was time for me to jump into something or stop liking business,” explains Daniel. “I had to start somewhere. Jumpin’ Java came up, so I figured I had better give it a try.”
For nearly three years now, Daniel has applied the concepts and strategies that he has long studied in his business books. “I knew, from my reading, that I’d have to work my butt off in the beginning,” says Daniel. “But it’s not like I ever imagined. I always say that if people knew what would happen in their business, they would never get into it in the first place.”
But don’t let his blunt account of running a business fool you into thinking that Daniel is regretful or weary. He’s quite the opposite, in fact. The upbeat and energetic man verbalizes his gratitude between every breath. “ I really can’t tell you how grateful I am for all of the people who have supported me along the way,” says Daniel. “There are obstacles, sure. But it’s all about what you want out of life.”
The underlying strategy in Daniel’s business plan is to develop the best system for Jumpin’ Java. “What makes big companies great is their system,” explains Daniel. “The ultimate goal at Jumpin’ Java is to create a great system. We’re still working on it, but we’re getting there.”
So what makes the Jumpin’ Java system successful? “My staff,” says Daniel. “Every success I have comes from the team of people around me. Obviously we have a great product, but it always comes down to our team.” Daniel’s appreciation for his staff shows in their retention. “The majority of our people have been here since day one,” says Daniel. “That’s pretty huge. You have got to have a consistent team to be successful.”
The staff is exceptional in Daniel’s eyes, but the customers hold a special place in his heart, too. “We have some crazy loyal customers,” says Daniel. “A few who come in once or twice each day.” And the customers clearly love Daniel too. “They bend over backwards to help us out. We had a spring cleaning day where customers came and did everything from trimming trees to interior decorating.”
And when you sip the special brews or sample the sweet pastries for yourself, you will learn what has those customers coming back for more. Although the special flavors change with the season — including everything from the holiday Pumpkin Spice to the head turning Sexual Chocolate — there are three flavor mainstays that keep customers consistently happy. “We try to keep a regular menu, in addition to our seasonal favorites,” explains Daniel. “If you switch it up too much, people get kinda moody and crazy.”
The Jumpin’ Java menu also features scores of smoothies, lattes and espresso drinks, hot and iced Republica Tea in a variety of flavors, pastries and biscotti, Italian sodas and custom drinks too. “If we haven’t heard of it, as long as you can explain it, we will do our best to deliver,” says Daniel. “I always say, ‘It’s not our taste buds, it’s yours.’ It’s important to provide what the customer wants, and how they want it.”
And speaking of taste buds, Jumpin’ Java customers will soon have the opportunity to try something new. Jumpin’ Java has recently formed a partnership with Crumb de la Crumb, a creative bakery serving coastal North Carolina. Crumb de la Crumb’s new kitchen will soon be located within the Jumpin’ Java building, allowing customers to purchase freshly baked cupcakes and other sweet treats along with their freshly brewed coffee.
Jumpin’ Java is not only well known for its mouth-watering menu items and friendly service, but also for its dedication to community. If the staff is not participating in the Relay for Life or another charity event, they can be seen serving free coffee at community events like the Brunswick County Chamber Oyster Festival and Senior Safety Day. “I am a big believer in community involvement,” says Daniel. “And supporting other businesses too. I always encourage people to let us know how we can partner with them and help out.”
Daniel attributes a significant amount of his success to the chamber of commerce. “Every business should join the chamber and get as involved as possible,” says Daniel. “They have done a lot for our business.”
Whether it’s the chamber involvement, the loyal customers, the spectacular staff or the systems behind the business, it’s obvious that Daniel is doing it right. Business increased 7.5% in his first year of ownership, 15% in 2009 and is on track to increase 25 to 30% in 2010. “With the economy the way it is, I am very pleased with our growth,” says Daniel. “We are getting to the point where we are very busy all of the time, but I am very cautious to grow too quickly. There are a lot of positive things we can do with this progress.”
Slow and steady growth is just one of the savvy strategies Daniel and his team employ. The company does not have a website but instead relies on Facebook for all of its online promotions. “We get such a big response from Facebook,” says Daniel. “Everyone is tied into that site.” Spend a few moments on the Jumpin’ Java fan page and you will get a taste of the love that its customers have for the staff and the products.
Customers rave about Jumpin’ Java, and the excitement is about to get hotter. The popular coffee shop is getting ready to celebrate its five-year anniversary in June. “We’ve got something special planned,” hints Daniel. “But you’ll have to stay tuned to Facebook for details on the big celebration.”
Over the past three years, Daniel has built an impressive and well-respected brand. Many would agree that it’s his constant appreciation for his team and his customers that have helped him succeed. It may also have to do with the way he lives his life. “God comes first always, second comes family, third comes friends, and fourth comes business and other activities,” says Daniel.
The young, self-taught businessman has his priorities right, a clear vision for his company, a talented team, dedicated customers and some super-scrumptious caffeine for the community of Shallotte.