JahVa Coffee Lounge+ is bringing a cozy coffeehouse with a health-minded menu and an emphasis on roots reggae music to South Pasadena. Wife-and-husband owners Angela Vallee and Edwin Grabert have scheduled a pre-launch party for April 19. The grand opening will follow on April 20.
According to Vallee, she wrote up a business plan for JahVa 12 years ago while she was getting her marketing degree. The concept takes inspiration from her longtime love of roots reggae artists like Dennis Brown and Peter Tosh, whom she remembers her dad playing in the car as a kid. But it wasn’t until she was pregnant with her and Grabert’s son, Ocean, that she really began to mull over what Grabert had asked about her business plan when they first started dating: Why don’t you do this?
Vallee, who used local reggae shows and reggae festivals all over the country as an escape from work, said she realized she didn’t want to be “chained to a desk,” or for their now 8-month-old to only see her on weekends. She quit her cushy corporate job in marketing last year to go all in with entrepreneur Grabert on JahVa, a spot where guests will be able to score both caffeine and a bite to eat.
The coffee lounge will occupy an 800-square-foot space at 6800 Gulfport Blvd. S in the South Pasadena Shopping Center anchored by Walmart. The couple have been eyeing the plaza for a while.
“Everybody goes there. The foot traffic is incredible,” Vallee said, adding that the location will allow them to cater to the South Pasadena crowd as well as people on their way to or from Gulfport and the beach.
JahVa plans to use Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee for its hot and iced specialty lattes, which will likely offer an island twist through coconut syrup and other ingredients. CBD espresso and caffeine-free superfood lattes in flavors such as beet root and turmeric will also make up the lineup. Vallee said superfood lattes are all the rage in California, where she lived for a time and would often visit to attend festivals.
Several local joints will supply the coffee lounge with food — think bagels and croissants from Bella’s Bakes Cakes and Bagels or gluten-free Craft Kafe bagels. Vallee and Grabert are working on a lineup of smoothie bowls to accompany the different the styles of reggae set to play throughout the day.
Dub classics may start in the early morning, then the tunes could transition to ska or rock steady around lunchtime.
In addition to the soundtrack, JahVa will feature a comfortable setting all green, yellow and red with leather couches, big chairs and high ceilings. Vallee said they’ve tapped St. Petersburg muralists the Vitale Bros. to pull off interior artwork, including positive quotes from roots reggae music greats. Expect some seats on the patio out front, too.
“I just wanted a place I would enjoy going to that would have reggae all the time, coffee and healthy food,” Vallee said.
(727) 314-0923. jahvacoffeelounge.com.