Jubala means jubilation, and that’s what North Raleigh caffeine addicts should feel now that they have a new, non-chain, coffee house in town. Andrew Cash opened Jubala Village Coffee about two and a half years ago in Lafayette Village.
Cash grew up across the street from where he now works in a neighborhood called Salem Woods. And he says that by the time he was ready to open his shop, you could drive a mile in just about any direction and find a Starbucks or another chain coffee shop. He wanted to try something different. At Jubala, coffee is fresh. No stale liquid sitting for hours in vats. You put in your order, a barista grinds some beans and brews the coffee: it takes about three minutes.
“We’re focused on quality first, convenience second,” Cash said. “We don’t want to be inconvenient to customers. But we also don’t want to rush the process and deliver a lower quality product.”
If you want a latte, the baristas are steaming milk just for your drink – one cup at a time. It takes a little longer, but Cash thinks it’s worth it.
“The benefit of that is your coffee’s fresh. It’s made to order,” he said. “We can control quality much better like that.”
Cash is an unlikely coffee entrepreneur. He went to college at Wake Forest University in pre-med. His goal was to be a doctor, and it was actually that path that led him to coffee.
Between his senior year of high school and the start of college, he went with a group of doctors to Kenya. There, he met a translator, Alex, who was a coffee farmer.
“I still did not drink coffee, but I really enjoyed getting to know Alex and hearing about his village,” Cash said.
He kept going back during his college career, and he gradually started to develop a taste for coffee.
“I didn’t like the taste of black coffee,” he said. “My go-to was Starbucks. I would get the Starbucks black coffee and not like it, so I would throw in whatever I needed to.”
He eventually found that his interest in medicine was waning. Instead, he was becoming interested in working with the coffee farmers he knew.
By the time Cash was a senior at Wake Forest, he knew he didn’t want to be a doctor. He was moved by the hard work and meager living conditions of some of the coffee farmers he had met. He decided he wanted to open his own coffee shop and buy directly from them. But that would take time.
He worked at GlaxoSmithKline for about seven years, all the while working on a business plan for his coffee shop.
“I was going back on more trips to Africa,” he said. “One hundred percent devoted to starting this business in Raleigh.”
He saved money from bonuses he made at work and eventually had enough capital to launch. But he discovered that buying directly from his farmer friends and roasting the beans himself was going to be harder than he thought.
“On paper it seemed easy,” he said. “But when you start logistically taking that apart, that’s a lot of work.”
He found a savior in Durham-based Counter Culture Coffee. They do something similar to what Cash wanted to do, and he realized that he could fulfill part of his dream by buying through them. So that’s what he does. But he hasn’t abandoned his dream of helping the farmers in Africa.
“I have made it a mission that when it’s time to give… we’ll go back over and really start to work with these people to give them whatever tools they need to help themselves.”
And this year he’s profitable, so at the end of the year, he’ll start to do just that.
Business is going well. Turns out there’s a niche for non-chain coffee shops in North Raleigh – one that Cash is helping to fill. And it all turns on a desire to be a helpful human being.
“You wake up and you have this passion that won’t leave you to help these people,” he said.
You can join in the passion with a cup of coffee at Jubala Village Coffee in Lafayette Village. I know I will.
Alex Granados writes about people, places and traditions in North Raleigh and beyond. Contact him at email@example.com.