By Emily J Weitz
There’s no way to talk about Java Nation without acknowledging what it was. For more than 15 years, perched in the Cove just off Main Street, the scent of fresh roasting coffee beckoned people in. The regulars multiplied, and by the end, owner Andres Bedini estimates he was saying hello to 500 people on a first-name basis.
“I didn’t want to close for one day,” says Bedini. “I didn’t want to lose that energy. Every time there was a big event, Java Nation was the center. I studied economics at the University of Maryland but I learned more about economics at Java Nation.”
And the business was certainly not struggling.
“We had our best winter last winter,” says Bedini. “I didn’t want to leave Main Street, but we had to. We split the baby in half. We took the wholesale, the retail beans here, and my daily beverage spread out to other coffee shops. We do a little private blend for the Golden Pear, LT, Provisions.”
Along with being a gathering place, a place where people discussed economics and politics and came together at the most potent moments in our country’s history, there was another thing that made Java Nation unique: the giant coffee roaster that makes the distinct aroma of Java Nation’s own fresh roasted coffee.
“Roasting is the most important part of the business,” says Bedini. “Whoever the roaster is, that’s who owns the brand. If you’re in a coffee shop and you’re selling someone else’s coffee, someone else owns your coffee. This differentiates us from everybody else. You can buy Starbuck’s coffee anywhere. But owning the brand, you have the flexibility.”
This means that Andres and his wife and business partner Cheryl can get creative with their blends.
“We invented the Bonacker,” says Bedini. “It’s a strong, full-bodied coffee with a smoky aftertaste. You could try to copy that mixture, but we own the recipe.”
The other reason the roaster is so integral to the business is it’s great advertising, says Bedini.
“You don’t have to advertise,” he says. “You just turn on the roaster, open the door, and people will show up. Tucked away in the alley, we were a local secret at first.”
But people followed their noses and found their way in. Bedini hopes the same will happen in Bridgehampton.
Keeping the roaster, and that important part of Java Nation’s identity, has been key in keeping their spirits up during this major move.
“You can buy a latte in a lot of places,” Bedini says, “but it’s hard to find a coffee roasted that day from a unique country. The shop was so busy that we were selling same day, or one-day-old roasted coffee. In other places, the coffee may sit on the shelf for six months.”
That fresh quality is what Java Nation has going for it, and that’s what they’re selling to local businesses as they work on increasing the wholesale side of things.
“We’ve approached restaurants and sent out samples,” says Bedini. “We’re actively seeking new customers for wholesale. We added Cavaniola’s, Provisions, Tutto Il Giorno and Dockside… I give them samples to try in their machinery.”
Once they’ve tried it, Bedini says these vendors have the flexibility to work with Java Nation.
“Not only do we offer same day roasting and delivery,” he says. “Since we’re the roaster, we can custom roast. If there’s a specific origin they like we’ll carry it for them. We make custom blends and custom roasts.”
The move from the Cove was not an easy one.
“The last day, we roasted a thousand pounds in the Cove,” says Bedini. “Then we took the wires apart, and took apart the roaster in two pieces. The top is five hundred pounds, the bottom is a thousand pounds. My friends hoisted it up, and we drove it over and just left it here a few days. In early May, we started roasting again.”
Bedini hopes that one day he and Cheryl can open a small retail location in Sag Harbor, without the roaster, just to get that other half of the Java Nation identity back. Until then, you’ll find pieces of Java Nation scattered about Sag Harbor. If you’re looking for the heart of it, go to Bridgehampton, and follow your nose.