The name Ian Pantin is synonymous with entertainment and music but with the industry at a halt due to COVID-19, Pantin is now building his own local business brand—Java Nation.
Java means coffee and Pantin said since this country is a nation of coffee drinkers, his logo represents just that—T&T in a coffee cup, capturing the essence of his business.
Pantin, who helped launch the career of soca star Bunji Garlin (Ian Alvarez) told the Sunday Business Guardian with the onset of the virus in March this year, he like many others in the industry were severally affected with little or no income.
And with a vaccine still to be developed and the uncertainty of the future of the industry Pantin has thrown all his efforts and resources into his coffee shop.
But he’s not totally leaving the entertainment industry.
“The industry has been hit very hard. There is very little going on. Revenue has come to a halt as no income is coming in, even for me so, until that returns one has to become more innovative and transfer resources into something that is more tangible,” Pantin explained.
Java Nation’s first location will be at Queen’s Park Savannah East and is expected to open between next month and the first week of December.
But why a coffee shop?
Pantin explained this created the perfect environment for meetings and a spot for teenagers to hang out especially when doing group projects.
“Whenever I travelled I would have my meetings in a coffee shop. That just stayed with me and I developed a love for it,” Pantin said.
However, with social distancing becoming the new norm and with businesses not being allowed to entertain customers, Java Nation will initially provide grab and go options.
“I believe people will still find the need for that ‘on the go’ coffee on a morning or throughout the day because coffee is now an all day item.
“But I want to get in now because when things pick up again I will be right in the mix of every thing,” Pantin added.
And apart from hot and cold beverages the shop will also serve meals on the go, catering to different times of the day.
The price point, Pantin said, would be competitive with other popular coffee shops.
“For instance, you can get a café latte at a popular coffee shop at around $27. Our product will be maybe around two dollars less,” Pantin said.
With the financial devastation caused by COVID-19 resulting in massive job losses and many struggling to make ends meet Pantin is confident Java Nation will find it’s own niche market.
“Coffee lovers will go to the end of the world to get their coffee. Teenagers are also becoming more coffee drinkers and coffee is still doing well around the world with almost every one,” Pantin said.
Establishing a business in a contracting economy is a risk Pantin is willing to take as he said even in challenging times investments must continue.
“It’s a risk we all take when we do business and I have been doing different aspects of business for many years but one of the best times to invest is look where they economy will be down the road and position yourself accordingly,” Pantin said.
He has also been encouraging other stakeholders in the entertainment industry who are facing financial hardship to venture into other business.
Several coffee shops are already scattered across the country.
But Pantin believes he has the secret ingredient as his brews will be unique as in the case of “nitro coffee.”
“It is coffee which is infused with nitrogen which is something I haven’t seen as yet locally. Most people do cold brew coffees like iced coffee. We are infusing our coffees with nitrogen so our coffee will look more like a Guinness as opposed to a regular cold coffee,” Pantin explained.
Secondly, Java House will be offering Bubble Tea.
Bubble tea is a tea-based drink originating in Taichung, Taiwan in the early 1980s that includes chewy tapioca balls or a wide range of other toppings. Ice-blended versions are frozen and put into a blender, resulting in a slushy consistency.
There are many varieties of the drink with a wide range of flavours.
Pantin said initially his Bubble Tea will be imported but he plans on sourcing the tapioca, a main content derived from cassava roots which can then be flavoured, from local farmers.
“Bubble tea is a novelty item abroad and it’s something we want to introduce to our coffee lovers here,” Pantin added.
Java House will also be supporting local farmers as the coffee will be sourced locally from Caribbean Roasters Ltd based in Diego Martin.
Pantin said the shop will employ ten people initially, noting that deliveries will be made via drop sites.
But when it becomes feasible, Pantin said he plans to hire his own drivers, hence creating further employment.
“We also offer a reward system for out customers using a collective platform amongst restaurants,” Pantin added.
Within a year Java Nation is expected to open its second branch in Central as plans are already in the works to reach central and south customers.
According to the National Coffee Association in the US more than half of Americans have already returned to coffee shops or plan to do so in the next month.
The association also noted that 75 per cent of coffee drinkers have said the pandemic has not changed their coffee consumption.