For Roasters & Retailers

ColJac serves much more than coffee

A downtown café that has become a popular Farmington meeting place to enjoy a cup of coffee, as well as made from scratch sandwiches and baked goods, is making plans to move in the coming months to the former location of Bauhaus Kaffee.

The ColJac Artisan Café, located at 23 E Columbia St., is co-owned by siblings Jacob and Jessica (Jess) Goff, two of local attorney Joe Goff’s adult children. Taking a break from the morning rush, Jacob Goff spoke about the café and its future move across from the courthouse square.

“Jess and I were both baristas at Holy Grounds downtown when it was still around,” he said. “We knew [ Oasis Christian Bookstore owner] Jane Cook and we really liked the small business thing.

“I’ve pretty much lived in St. Louis for the last 10 years going to school and stuff like that. I briefly worked at a coffee shop up there, but Jess has been in the area. She went to school to get her baking and pastry degree. She’s been making a lot of cakes and cookies and stuff for people in the area for many years.”

While working at a different coffee shop, Jess learned that her father and several investors were looking into opening one in downtown Farmington.

“While they were looking at this, she jumped onboard and got her hands dirty and kind of built it up from scratch,” Goff said.

If you are wondering how the café ended up with a name like “ColJac,” there’s a very simple and logical explanation.

“The name is a combination of Columbia and Jackson where the café is at the intersection,” Goff said. “We’re really undecided if we’re going to change the name when we move, but probably not. It’s a good name.”

Asked why the decision was made to move the café to a different location, Goff said, “We really liked that space. It was built for a downtown coffee shop and I think that the place holds a special place in the hearts of people in a cultural sense.

“We have really strived to be kind of a cultural place for people to gather and meet one another, so we think that space is a little more conducive to being a gathering spot. We’ve talked to 12 West a lot and they’ve got a lot of great stuff going on there. We like the idea of kinda’ clustering up close with them up there.”

Goff noted that the café’s new location at 9 N. Jefferson St. will not only provide it more seating space, but kitchen capacity, as well.

“They have a commercial hood that is already in the building connected to it, which is a really important thing for the fire department,” he said. “That opens up our possibilities a ton with what we can do with the menu. We’re hoping for a lot more Sunday brunches. We’ve talked about a pop-up restaurant, which is not something that’s really done in this area.”

And what in the world is a pop-up restaurant?

“We close at 4-ish right now,” Goff said. “And so, a pop-up restaurant would be something like you’d maybe buy tickets to or there would be a limited number and there’d be kind of a rotating menu – so you can really have a lot of fun with it.

“It would be great for a company like us where we have to keep a tight rein on our margins and we’re not fully built out to be a full-time, full-service restaurant – other than during the day. But for something like that we could really hone-in and offer some interesting stuff.”

According to Goff, Farmington is an “interesting community” in which to own a café like ColJac.

“For a long time, when we both worked at the Oasis, you’d have to charge people specialty coffee prices for specialty coffee,” he said. “For some people that can be really jarring when they’re used to the gas station coffee experience in price points.

“But over the last 10 years people have traveled and they’ve all been to Starbucks, and they all understand how the game works. We’ve been really well received, I think, for the most part. It’s really cool that it’s our regulars who keep us afloat. If suddenly there was no new customers and all we had was our regulars, we’d be fine for years, probably.”

Another important part of the ColJac team is Nicolas Sutherland, a Farmington High School graduate who, after graduating from Truman State University, spent a year in the country of Madagascar teaching English and farming practices as part of what he described as “a Peace Corps-type of organization.”

Back from Madagascar for around a year-and-a-half, Sutherland hooked up with the Goffs, hoping to make a little cash on the side as a barista for a while.

“As soon as I got in here, I fell in love with their concept,” he said. “Working with them has been great because they let us be as creative as we want to and really take our feelings into account.”

Now Sutherland has moved on from being a barista at ColJac.

“He’s actually doing all of our operations,” Goff said. “He’s been configuring our supply chain. He’s a math and business major. He’s got a mind on him and done an incredible job.

While Jess is less vocal than her brother, she isn’t shy when it comes to saying what she likes most about her job.

“I really like the relationship with the customers,” she said. “I’ve worked at a few other coffee shops in the area and a lot of them follow me around, so I still get to stay in touch with everyone. It’s been nice for the last 8 to 10 years learning people’s stories.”

And while the Goffs are excited about their new location, they want to make sure people know that the move is still a couple of months away. Still, the ColJac Artisan Café is open for business at the intersection of Columbia and Jackson Street, ready to make their customers feel right at home.

“Come here and get a feel for what we’re about,” Goff said. “I think it will be really fun to see both sides of it. We get people in all the time – it’s crazy! It’s just evidence that this community is growing really, really rapidly.”

 

By Kevin Jenkins

(Farmington Press)

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