All That Java: Walk Right Up For A Cup That’ll Make You Smile
All That Java, Rhinebeck. Photos provided.
By Lisa Green
This is a an unequivocally happy story.
After all, it’s a story that owes its genesis to coffee, and if you’re a coffee drinker, you’ll understand why it’s a mood enhancer.
But it’s also about a couple of happy folks in the Hudson Valley who not only love their coffee, but wanted to bring some of that joy to others — and deliver that joy in the most efficient and, may I say, adorable way possible.
Samantha Sapienza conceived of ALL THAT JAVA and, along with her partner, Patrick Madden, manifested her vision to create small, mobile coffee shops emitting “stellar coffee and a happy vibe.” The first location, in Rhinebeck just outside the village, became an instant hit when it opened in August 2016. The second, on the Poughkeepsie side of Walkway Over the Hudson, took up summer-into-fall hours in May last year. This winter, the Walkway location has been moved to Windham (New York) Mountain Resort to offer coffee slope-side.
Sapienza, who lived in Millbrook, New York before she moved to Seattle, became a drive-through coffee fan out West, and when she came to Rhinebeck to visit her mother, was astonished they didn’t exist in this area.
“These places are all over the West Coast,” she said. “It was part of life out there — it was the norm to have one on every block. I always thought they needed to be here.” An idea was planted.
After 15 years in Seattle, divorced and with three young boys, Sapienza moved to Rhinebeck in 2012, and began planning her coffee dream. Getting her ducks in a row took longer than she expected, but she used that time to work on branding, at which she is expert. A former photographer, she had dabbled in graphic design, but her skill is evident in everything from the ubiquitous ALL THAT JAVA logo, her charming videos, ATJ’s Instagram feed, and even its whimsical tchotchkes. (The name, by the way, was always in the back of her mind. It’s a reference to her parents, who are jazz musicians, and a play on the Bob Fosse production “All That Jazz.”)
Madden and Sappienza at The Walkway Over the Hudson.
The coffee shops are actually tiny houses built on a trailer and are semi permanent. The 8x12-foot structures, which they put together themselves, are super efficient and meant to be run by one person, but can handle two or three when it’s busy. Since buying land is not part of the dream, the mobile aspect offers the best-case scenario.
For the first location, Sapienza drove around Rhinebeck to find somewhere convenient but not in the village. She approached the Rhinebeck Tack owners, who gave her free rein over their sizable parking lot. She wanted it to be a drive-through but Rhinebeck wouldn’t allow it, so it’s a “modified drive-up.”
The Walkway, too, was an easy sell. “We reached out to them, and they came back to us quickly. They’d been looking to do things like this and were thrilled to have us,” Sapienza said.
And the coffee? It’s not an afterthought. Sapienza procures the beans from a roaster outside of Seattle (“we leave the roasting to the roaster; they’re the experts”). It’s a really simple operation. There are two blends — one for espresso, one for drip coffee. The menu is fairly basic — for coffee houses these days, anyway — but includes Zoda, ALL THAT JAVA’s own coffee soda recipe, and Frappienza, a reflection of Sapienza’s name and the shop’s own version of a certain coffee house’s Frappuccino. There are coffee ice cubes for the iced drinks, gift cards (“All That Money”) and the beans are for sale. There’s ordering by text, too.
The convenience of the walk-up coffee is great, sure, but it wouldn’t have caught on and stayed popular if the java didn’t deliver the goods. A quick glance at the reviews on ATJ’s Facebook page indicates why the local coffee lovers have so quickly embraced their tiny java supplier.
“It starts with the coffee,” Madden said. “The coffee is great. Our customers come here and for a few moments there’s no red states or blue states, just a good moment to start the day. Coffee is a way to bond people together. And people come back.”
Back, then, to the joy that surrounds this mom-and-pop effort. “Our vibe is happy,” Sapienza said. “It’s how we are as humans, how we operate, how we want to treat everybody. And honestly, we spend so much of our time laughing together. We love our Java.”
And about their expansion plans: can you expect an ALL THAT JAVA to roll in near you? Quite possibly, if you’re in the Hudson Valley.
“We’re planning to expand as rapidly as we can,” Sapienza said. “The theory is to bring ALL THAT JAVA up and down the Hudson from Saratoga Springs to New York City. But we’re not trying to be a café. The mobility of the unit allows us to be a to-go-focused coffee location.” Drive-ups are still the goal.”
The cheerful baristas are clearly living their tagline: Smile. Drink Coffee. Be Grateful. Love Life. “It’s a little bit like Cheers,” Madden said. “We’re like daytime bartenders, but for only two minutes long.”