Entrepreneurial sisters Jeronica Macey and Be’Anka Ashaolu have brought their long-held dream to fruition: Their Nirvana Soul coffeehouse opened in late September in downtown San Jose’s SoFA district.
Coffee and tea came first, and when coronavirus-era rules allow, the two plan to activate the cafe with local musicians and artists, continuing the legacy of this former Caffe Frascati space.
Be’Anka took some time from their busy first-week-of-business schedule to answer some questions about what inspired this entrepreneurial dream of theirs, and — since this is the Eat Drink Play section — what they’re roasting (and drinking) right now and what we can expect in the future from South First Street’s newest tenant.
Q: Your motto is “using the power of coffee and tea to bring people together.” What is your vision for Nirvana Soul?
Be’Anka: That’s our mission. Nirvana Soul is all about being inclusive and making specialty coffee comfortable and accessible for all. It’s about creating and spreading positive energy, fully and joyfully.
Q: What got the two of you interested in the coffeehouse concept? Where did you drink coffee growing up in San Jose?
Be’Anka: Jeronica has been in the coffee industry for over 17 years and has always wanted to open her own shop. We grew up drinking coffee with our late great-grandmother in her home. She shared her morning Folger’s with us when we were young. Jeronica’s career actually began in Willow Glen at Peet’s Coffee & Tea.
Q: Did you decide to roast beans onsite or source them from a supplier?
Jeronica: We are roasting our own beans in San Jose — and quality, of course, is the priority, Jeronica adds. We try to trade directly with farmers, and we want to ensure the farmers are being treated fairly.
Be’Anka: We came to the roasting decision after our CFO and Head of Products joined us and reviewed the landscape for purchasing beans from other roasters. We’ve always wanted to feature other BIPOC and women roasters in our shop, and we’re featuring Cute Coffee right now. That’s a Black woman-owned coffee roasting company from L.A. and the Bay. We have the shared mission of accessibility and connection.
Q: Every coffee drinker wants to know: How much coffee do you drink? And what are the coffee drinks of choice for you two?
Be’Anka: Jeronica is the daily coffee drinker and can drink it black — no sugar, no cream. Her other go-to is our Africano or Cortado, single-origin espresso with 3 ounces of steamed milk.
I’m a daily tea drinker, so I usually go for our Teamosa, which is a banana and pineapple tea with sparkling water over the top, or a honey citrus mint tea that I drink at home.
Q: What’s on the food menu?
Be’Anka: We serve sweet and savory waffles: churro, chorizo and queso, and bacon and cheddar. We also have delicious pastries from The French Spot in San Francisco. These change regularly, but so far people are loving the veggie quiche and berry cheesecake. So good!
Q: Have you thought about what kind of late-night beverages and food you might offer when this coronavirus crisis eases and you can host musicians and artists at the cafe?
Be’Anka: We’ll add charcuterie and we’ll have beer and wine.
Q: What advice would you give other women of color with entrepreneurial dreams?
Be’Anka: We can do hard things! It’s the same advice we take and give with every challenge we face. It’s hard, yes, but not impossible. Don’t stop!
Details: Open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily at 315 S. First St., San Jose. www.nirvanasoulcoffee.com