The Java Cup – Young Entrepreneurs in NH

When I first moved to Claremont, a few years ago, finding a good coffee shop was right near the top of my priority list. Lucky for me, we’ve got a few. Like any mill town worth its salt, Claremont is full of great diners.

Jesse Demars admires the art on the wall at the Java Cup.

Jesse Demars admires the art on the wall at the Java Cup.

But the Java Cup is a little different… mostly because of its owner. Jesse Demars is 28 years old. He is, without a doubt, the youngest restaurateur here in the City. So I wanted to pick his brain a bit about how he got into this business, what it’s like to be a young restaurant owner, and where he sees our region heading.

Jesse, can you give us a quick biography?

So, I was born and raised in Cornish. I went to Windsor High, across the river in Vermont. I graduated in 2005, and started working odd jobs around the Claremont region.

I enlisted in the Navy Reserves, after a few years, as a heavy equipment operator. I was with the Navy until about 2013, and that was about the time that I bought the Java Cup.

So, that’s obviously the purpose of this interview. Can you tell me a little more about how you came to own this place? Did you want to get into the food service industry?

Ok… there are no short answers here. One of the odd jobs I did after high school was working for a friend that had a business that made artisan apple crisp. We’d go all over the region, selling these beautiful baked goods at fairs and stuff. Somewhere along the way, I learned that I really liked giving people good food.

The Java Cup along Pleasant Street in Claremont.

The Java Cup along Pleasant Street in Claremont.

I was a pretty regular customer at the Java Cup when I heard it was for sale. I was looking for something new to get involved with, the price was good, and the place had a good customer base to build on. I also knew that I could afford to learn as I went, because the overhead was pretty low.

So here you are…

So here I am. You know, it’s a good challenge. I’m definitely confident in myself, and I’m confident in my abilities, but this has also been a learning opportunity. There are things I would have done different – that I will do differently in the future. But I love this place and I love my customers.

What’s it like being a young business owner? Do you think you have a different perspective than your older friends and mentors?

I’m definitely aware of it. I’m younger than most of my peers by about ten years. But again, I try to be self-aware. I try to keep honest with myself and recognize strengths and weaknesses. It would be easy to doubt myself, being this much younger than everyone else. But some things, I know I do well. Others (laughing)… others I don’t!

The walls at the Java Cup were decorated by the Claremont MakerSpace team.

The walls at the Java Cup were decorated by the Claremont MakerSpace team.

But really, it’s not really an age thing with entrepreneurs, I think. It’s just about being flexible. No matter what age, a good entrepreneur is flexible. The second you get set in your ways, that’s when you’re done. The market always changes. You have to be willing and ready to change with it – or in front of it, if you’re good.

Where do you think our strengths lie, as a region? What is your pitch to young people who come into your shop?

Well first of all, there’s a lot of opportunity. Like I said earlier – my overhead is low here. That’s allowing me to try new things, to learn as I go. I don’t think I could do that anywhere else.

But also, this place is a lot more diverse as a region than people think. Folks coming from the bigger cities tend to see our whole region as “small town America.” I think there’s a lot more to it than that.

I grew up in Cornish. That’s a small town. They care a lot of privacy. Everyone is very nice, but people are private, and life is quiet.

Here in Claremont, everything is more neighborly. I interact with lots of people on a daily basis. People I don’t know will say hi to me, or call me “Java Jesse.”

"Java" Jesse Demars.

“Java” Jesse Demars.

It’s amazing to me that you can have such different lives so close together. I think that’s really one of our great strengths.

That’s a nice perspective Jesse. Thanks for your time. 

No problem Zach. Thank you for taking the time. And let your readers know that we’d love to see them at the Java Cup soon!

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