Barista Spotlight: Local Java’s Barbara and Marjorie

Get to know the smiles behind your on-campus cup of joe.

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Anjali Chanda

Barbara greets students with a familiar face while operating the campus go-to café, Local Java (Hustler Multimedia/Anjali Chanda)

Sam Blum, Staff Writer

After opening in the fall of 2017, Local Java has become an integral part of on-campus coffee lovers’ morning routine. Among menu changes, hours of operation adjustments and the switch to fully online ordering during the COVID-19 pandemic, there remains one, constant factor that maintains Local Java’s identity: the baristas. 

Between those who have had just one or two Local Java drinks to those who rely on it for a fresh cold brew before an 8 a.m. chem lecture, everyone recognizes the smiles behind the Local Java counter. Barbara Ann Avery and Marjorie James have been serving some of the best coffee creations on campus since the shop first opened downstairs in Rand. Beyond completing each drink order with a smile, Barbara and Marjorie have formed personal connections with students by remembering the regulars’ names and orders. 

Both Barbara and Marjorie were among the first baristas at Local Java, even before it partnered with Frothy Monkey more than four years ago. Outside of coffee, the duo has a bit to share about their lives with the students they enjoy seeing day in and day out. 

Barbara first started working in the food and service business in her early twenties as a waitress and later went into management before owning her own business. Marjorie previously worked as an in-home caregiver and served in the army prior to that for four years. 

In her free time, Barbara said she loves to travel and is eagerly awaiting for restrictions to lift such that she is able to discover new places again. She also has a passion for quilting, but as is evident through her daily energy at Local Java, what she really enjoys is staying active and being around young people at her job.

Next semester, both baristas have hopes for a return to the normal Local Java experience as they too miss the in-person experience and relationship building aspect that comes with a coffee order. 

“I’m hoping everything is back to normal with all students back on campus, getting to see all our regulars back at the coffee shop and being able to recognize our students again, ” Barbara said.

Marjorie is also excited to see familiar faces back at Local Java next year and looks forward to meeting many new students. As someone who is not a huge coffee drinker, Marjorie notes that adding smoothies to the menu has brought energy back to the shop after a quieter first semester with reduced hours and ordering options. 

“The most popular order at Local Java is the new smoothies, especially strawberry,” Majorie said. “Adding smoothies to the menu has brought the shop back to life, and it has been very successful.”

As well as adding popular smoothie options, newly added food entrees like sandwich and bowl varieties have boosted sales. The new additions appeal to a wider array of students with more choices for breakfast, lunch or a midday snack beyond the already popular coffee drinks. If you are looking for a refreshing drink as the weather warms, stop by the Local Java before the end of the semester. The coffee shop will be open Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. with ordering available through the GET app. If you have not already visited the shop, Barbara and Marjorie are eager to meet you and give you a taste of their newest specialties.