Jano Evans, who owns and operates two cafés (called Caféin) in rural Wexford, isn’t your typical 22-year-old.
A jack-of-all-trades; when he decides to do something he learns all he can to the best of his ability (the best of his ability generally being excellent).
This has been true for many of his interests (like the time he built his own motorcycle), but possibly the most impactful skill he has picked up has been slinging espresso.
In fact, once he started learning about coffee he found it so fascinating he ended up leaving college to focus on café work full time. For many, a café job might be a part-time money maker – the thing you do to get through college – to Jano, it was a door opening to a meaningful career.
“I was living on Thomas St (Dublin) during college, and there was a little coffee shop beneath us,” he says. “One night, I had an extra €15 and tried a [type of speciality] coffee – I never had a coffee like it. I started going in there every day for coffee, and then started helping [the café owner] in the evenings and we became friends. I worked the odd shift for him and was struck by how he took his job so seriously.”
Unconventional career path
His friend ended up leaving that café and working for Stone Valley Coffee Roasters in Clonakilty, Co Cork – this is where the opportunity for Jano to learn the trade really came from.
“He got headhunted for a new shop and asked me if I might be interested in working with him full time,” he explains. “So I dropped out of college and went to work with him – it was the best decision I ever made. I fell in with some world [barista] champions and I got to see the ultimate highest point you can get to [in the industry]. That actually influenced me in coming back to the countryside – I opened Caféin and, from day one, went high end and high standard.”
He opened his first location in Coolgreany, Co Wexford, during the pandemic – a mobile unit serving, mainly, walkers. Using his favourite Stone Valley coffee beans and his own talent, he developed an instant local following.
“It was really lucky, everything just fell into place,” he says. “I had wanted to start a coffee shop [in the village] at the beginning of lockdown. There was no pub; no place to meet, and I wanted to make sure I was showcasing local, since my dad’s a dairy farmer and there can be such disconnect between farmers and consumers.”
Making coffee special
Coffee is something that can be something very mundane – an every-day drink we take for granted – or, it can be something very special indeed. Jano laughs when he describes how far down the “coffee rabbit hole” you can go.
“I mean, you can come in and order your cappuccino each morning – but if you ever want to delve into coffee, there’s so much complexity involved – I’m currently reading a book called The Physics of Filter Coffee; it’s about how coffee is extracted. Learning about the complexity of it is really interesting to me.”
Growth in a short time
With his first location a success, after just one month in business Jano got the opportunity to open a second location at the Kilanerin Community Centre (which was acting as a COVID-19 vaccination centre). The space was there and a café was needed – with decent seating capacity, Jano and his team were able to create a vibrant community-driven space; featuring foods sourced from within the local south Wicklow/north Wexford region.
“With the vaccination centre coming, there was a need for a coffee shop and when the [community development organisation] heard my story they said, ‘Please come in.’ The space needed some work and I said, ‘If we’re doing coffee, we’re going to do it right.’ I put a lot of training into my staff and we got the best equipment – it’s the kind of place where everyone says hello as soon as you come through the door.”
Milking the locality
If you’ve ever had the perfect latte, flat white or cappuccino, you may have noticed the silkiness of the milk and how velvety the texture of the foam seems. This is not happening by chance; professional baristas take their milk very seriously; often sourcing it from single farms in an attempt to maintain a higher milk fat content. Jano is no exception.
His milk comes from Fairfield Farm in nearby Enniscorthy. Nick and Anne Marie Doyle pasteurise their milk on-site; delivering to Dublin and around the local area. Jano goes through roughly 120l per week. Aside from his hyper-local milk, he also sources his foods from within their locality. Luckily, their region is chock-full of food producers, making creating a simple-but-tasty café menu (which includes panini sandwiches and baked goods among other items) much easier.
Jano says, in his experience, supporting local food producers has led to greater support for his own business and has also led to discovering even more local producers than he realised existed.
“It’s amazing, it’s nearly one person leads to the next because they are so willing to help,” he says. “There’s this mutual respect when you’re setting up your business. The producers are trying to do and showcase their best, and that makes us want to showcase their products as well – it’s just that much easier to give that love and attention to their product.”
Despite being the business owner, Caféin is far from a one-person show and Jano is quick to give credit to all the people who have helped him get his cafes up and running in such a short period of time.
“It’s been a learning experience and I’ve been so fortunate with my staff,” he smiles, “they all just have this love for what they’re doing. I was managing places in Dublin [previously] where I’d go through 50 or 60 staff. I got so lucky down here.
“When I used to tell people I was a barista, they assumed I was also in college and doing it as a side gig – but you can go so far in coffee,” he adds. “I was meant to go to South America last year [but then the pandemic happened]. You can actually go so far in coffee – it’s thousands of hours to get to the point where you’re considered an expert.”
As Irish Country Living is running its own 50km diet project (see P11), Jano is using the same principle when it comes to sourcing his café food items. Here are some of the local producers regularly featured on his menu boards:
Is there a local food hub in your community? We would love to hear about it. Drop us a line at ICL@farmersjournal.ie