Joyful Java brings curbside coffee to campus

Joyful Java brings curbside coffee to campus

By Logan Doctson | Staff Reporter

UA students know Joyful Java as a popular, new coffee stand often stationed outside of Reese Phifer and other campus hot spots. However, to Kate Hartmann, the owner of the mobile coffee shop, Joyful Java is a lifelong dream that she is finally getting a chance to fulfill.

“It sounds strange, but I’ve always had a passion for coffee,” Hartmann said. “I’ve wanted a coffee shop for years, but life demanded I follow a different path. I spent the last nine years as the executive director for a global non-profit working in cyber security. After a trip to Belfast for work I just decided that I’d had enough of the corporate life. I finally had the resources to do what I wanted to do, so I quit my job and began to work on my business plan. After many different options, I decided that a mobile coffee shop, not a ‘brick and mortar’ store, was my next move.”

Originally, Hartmann’s plan was to open Joyful Java in South Jersey. However, her plans changed when her son insisted that a mobile coffee truck would be successful in Tuscaloosa.

“My son’s girlfriend enrolled in The University of Alabama as a graduate student and they moved here in August with my granddaughter,” Hartmann said. “He convinced me that the food truck industry was just getting rolling in Alabama and that a coffee truck on campus would be a great idea.”

With the help of her two sons, Hartmann is responsible for all Joyful Java operations.

“My two sons who are working with me have no experience in this industry, so I had to teach them how to be baristas, train them on the recipes and make sure they understand that quality is first," Hartmann said. 

Bagels were also recently added to the menu. However, the mobile coffee shop isn’t done expanding their menu yet.

“The guys are always thinking ahead to the next addition,” Hartmann said. “Who knows what the next drink will be? They came up with the Nutella latte and the Peanut Butter Cup latte and there have been several other experiments that haven’t made it onto the trailer. Starting this coming week, we’re adding avocado toast to the menu.”

Since moving to Tuscaloosa, the mobile coffee shop has gotten a lot of attention from the Tuscaloosa community, particularly students.

“I’ve heard a lot of great things about Joyful Java, so I decided to try it out today on my way to class,” said Paige Honaker, a senior majoring in public relations. “I got the iced vanilla latte, but I’m really excited to try another drink the next time I go.”

Joyful Java originally started out at the Tuscaloosa River Market and continues to spend Saturdays there. However, because of the attraction that the coffee truck gets parked outside of Reese Phifer, they will continue to spend most of their time there. Students can expect to see Joyful Java by Presidential Village soon. 

“Joyful Java’s location makes it so convenient to stop there before and after class,” said Shannon Trammell, a senior majoring in public relations. “Whenever I go, I usually get the chai tea latte.”

At first, Hartmann had a hard time coming up with a name for her coffee shop, but then she quickly fell in love with the meaning and alliteration of Joyful Java.

“The definition of joyful is causing great happiness,” Hartmann said. "That was something I wanted to do, so the name just fit. I’m doing this for the experience. I want people to be happy. I want to ‘cause great happiness’.”

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