Java Joe: The man behind Rochester’s favorite coffee bean

Java’s Cafe is a vital extension of the Rochester experience, welcoming coffee, tea, and dessert enthusiasts alike. For the average UR student, Java’s on Gibbs St. has become a haven during stressful testing times and a social hub on more heartwarming occasions.

Java’s reputation, which is slowly approaching its thirties, is based on its locally sourced and ethically sourced coffee beans. Joe Palozzi, dubbed Java Joe, founded a coffee farm in Hawaii in 1978 before moving to Rochester to establish his legacy. With ample time to devote to his craft and little profit from his coffee (as a result of competition from capitalist-favored Maxwell’s Coffee), Joe hid marijuana plants among his coffee trees as a secondary source of income. Joe was forced to flee the state of Hawaii after being apprehended by authorities. In the 1980s, the coffee bean connoisseur relocated to Rochester.

In 1992, Joe decided to sell his coffee at the Public Market and opened a store on Gibbs St. with the assistance of Michael Calabrese, whose father owned the building now occupied by our beloved Java’s. This location, beloved by many University of Rochester students and conveniently located adjacent to the Eastman School of Music, was the first of Java Joe’s numerous locations. As a blues enthusiast, Joe enthusiastically infused this flagship store with as much artistic, poetic, and musical influence as possible, while maintaining the bohemian charm he adored.

Following this Gibbs location, Joe established Java Joe’s in the Public Market; inside the Union Building, next to Boulder Coffee Co. Java was released approximately two years later. Joe’s relocated to an adjacent building, opened Java’s Bakeshop, and changed its name to Java’s at the Market Coffee Roasters. This structure served as his workspace, where visitors frequently caught glimpses of Joe expertly roasting his coffee beans over dancing flames and cultivating his drinks with care. Conducting business in person developed into an art form, cherished by Java’s regulars.

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