Have you ever tried a Nitrogen Infused coffee? Or, better yet, a Bubble Tea with Tapioca Pearls?
Well those are just a couple of the revolutionising options available at the coffee house called Java Nation, which is located at 14-19 Queen’s Park Savannah East, in the National Insurance Board (NIB) headquarters building.
Java Nation is the brainchild of Ian Pantin, who is well known in entertainment circles for managing some of the creme-de-la creme of soca stars and bands.
Pantin chatted with izzso to discuss his coffee biz, which is a far cry from the world of entertainment, which he got into at a very early age.
Pantin said “Musically my dad was obsessed with orchestras, anything with brass percussion and keyboards was on blast at home. I would take bets from neighbours on the track he would play next. Back then, it was obviously about earning some spending money. What I didn’t realize is that I was actually starting the journey of establishing what I liked to do and how I fit in to the grand scheme of things.”
He said the most successful managers are egoless, thick-skinned, and tenacious, ready and able to advocate tirelessly behind the scenes on behalf of their client and when he met KMC and Bunji Garlin, he took the opportunity to sign and assist them and create something special in the music industry.
From there, Pantin was manager for the likes of Patrice Roberts, Rikki Jai and even D’ All Starz band (formerly known as Roy Cape and the All Stars) just to name a few.
Fast forward to 2019, just months prior to when Covid19 hit and it was during this period that Pantin decided to make “the switch.”
He said “The Pandemic forced me to take stock of where I was in life. The music industry was shut down. All revenue streams dried up. But I am someone who loves challenges and so I began searching for a career change. For those who know me, no matter what part of the world I am, my meetings were usually held at a cafe or coffee shop. I thought how about a start – up. One year later Java Nation was born.”
Pantin said he was also inspired by his mom to get the ball rolling on this new venture.
“I will always remember the words of advice from my most trusted mentor my mom: “you are never to old to start over in life”.
“We tell ourselves the right thing is the responsible thing instead of the thing we dream of doing someday. Like “I’m too scared to try and fail. That was never an option for me.”
So where did the name Java Nation come from?
Pantin said “I’m a patriot. Java means coffee and Nation represents a nation of coffee lovers. Our colours reflect the national colours of Trinidad and Tobago Red white and black. Our logo is a map of Trinidad and Tobago in a coffee cup.
On their location at Queen’s Park East, which is not what many may deem a “busy spot” or a typical mall venue where most coffee shops are situated, Pantin said “In looking for our first branch I wanted something different. I was not too keen on Malls and shopping districts as they were also affected by the pandemic. My search centered mainly around business districts. And so, when I was introduced to NIB, I immediately fell in love. As for traffic we open Sunday to Sunday and we see a steady flow of customers daily.”
Pantin said “In Java Nation we are proud of our culture. There is more of a connection between what we consume and our culture, than you may think.
“Because we are located around the savannah, we picked themes for our menu that represent our history or who we are as a people. These items include Nitrogen Coffee-Savannah Grass and Bubble teas – Magnicent7, Lady Young and Papaya Seamoss.”
He said “We give customers choice, we offer our drinks in a variety of sizes and shapes, these include a 24oz King Size drink that you can invert without spillage. A light bulb cup. A twin cup that offers 2 drinks in one cup, Mason jars, tumblers etc.
“Java Nation customers can choose from bakery items, sandwiches, lunches, teas, Bubble Teas, juices, coffees and coffee accessories in the store.”
Now with two major coffee chains already “eating ah food” in TT – one international, the other locally owned, we had to ask Pantin what sets Java Nation apart from the rest and why should Trinis partake of what he has to offer.
He said “What sets us apart is that our model is to cover the entire customer purchase process, offering our customers a 100% espresso based hot and cold coffees, Nitrogen coffee, cold brews and Bubble teas. This enhances our customer experience, improves our operating efficiency, and allows us to stay connected with our customers and engage them on all aspects of made to order coffee and Bubble teas.
Pantin does have plans to broaden the horizons and expand Java nation.
“Driven by technology, our new retail model is built upon a system of one stop shop for coffee and Bubble tea.
“We plan to grow a number of branches within the next few years and in order to do such, we are planning to offer shares to a few investors. We have already formulated a prospectus for such.”
Now that he has successfully made the switch from the world of entertainment and artist management to business owner, we asked Pantin what advice he would give to those dreaming of stepping away from their norm to start something new. He had this to say:
“Don’t focus on what you’re running from, figure out what you’re running toward. Ask yourself why do you want to launch this new career? Be honest with yourself, you could be feeling down, unproductive, unmotivated, or stagnant. feeling the effects of the pandemic, could make the transition more complicated.
“If you expect it will take a long time for your industry to bounce back, it might make sense to look for ways you can use your skills and experience in a new field. Ask yourself these questions and then write down the answers. This will help you look at your thoughts more objectively and anchor your decision in facts.”