AGAWAM – Craig Jurasz is happy to serve the people of Agawam coffee, but he said he opened the Agawam Java Stop two years ago this December for more selfish reasons.
Having spent time living in Washington, Jurasz said he got used to having multiple locally owned coffee shops within walking distance of his home. When he moved back to Western Massachusetts, Jurasz said he could not find a high quality cup of coffee and decided to do something about it.
“I really fell in love with coffee out there, and then I came here and there was nothing except for Dunkin’ Donuts,” he said. “I really opened it for me so I could get a good cup of coffee and let everyone else in too.”
This isn’t Jurasz’s first go-round with a coffee shop, previously owning Rt. 20 Java Stop in West Springfield. He eventually sold that business, and the building currently houses the Colorado Ski Shop.
After years on coffee hiatus, Jurasz said he missed it.
“I did other jobs in between for the past 10 years. I’ve been doing other thing, but I just really missed this,” he said. “I was a restaurant manager for other restaurants, and my specialty is people. That’s where I like to be.”
Jurasz found his other jobs had him in an office for most of the day. Now, at the counter of the Agawam Java Stop, he is crafting lattes and chatting with customers, most of which are regulars. Jurasz said people come from all over, not just Agawam.
“People like to support local, and we have a really good customer base,” he said. “Customers don’t just stay customers. They become friends … It’s become like a big family, the employees too. They become a part of the family.”
Instead of a coffee shop designed to intimidate customers as they timidly order drinks in another language, Jurasz said he wanted to create an atmosphere where patrons feel comfortable.
This means that those who come through the Agawam Java Stop have freedom to get creative with their drinks, and the staff even names some winning combinations after the customers that made them. From Li Li’s Latte, made with white chocolate, Nutella and raspberry, to one of the best sellers, Chico’s Chiquita, made with Nutella, banana and salted caramel, customers have been honored on the shop’s chalkboard.
While some have been a hit, Jurasz said he has seen some combinations he just does not understand, like a regular who orders a latte with hazelnut, peppermint and white chocolate almost every visit. Though it may not be his cup of coffee, Jurasz said he is happy to give every person what he or she wants.
Though the Agawam Java Stop is still a few years away from “the five year hump,” he said, Jurasz is happy with what his shop has become and what it will be. Whether it is franchising or just expanding front of the house room, he’s not sure, but for now, he’s glad to be chatting with people as he crafts their combination – no matter how weird.
The Agawam Java Stop is located at 1226 Springfield St. in Feeding Hills.