All that Rupert Jones, the owner of Drip Coffee in Madison, New Jersey, wanted 10 years ago was a change in career and to spend more time with his kids. This desire led him to the coffee business.
Jones opened Drip coffee around the time of the recession in 2008 and admitted to having some setbacks in the first years, like getting the permit to change the use of the building. However, Jones said that just made the whole experience worthwhile. “If you knew all the things ahead of time that you had to do, you probably wouldn’t do it,” Jones shared. This includes getting the right equipment and setup of the business. Also, Jones said that the work that had to be done before even setting up––like meeting with the health department––took a lot more time than he anticipated.
When thinking about what he wanted to do with his new business, Jones said that his main goal was to bring good quality coffee to Madison. He wanted to separate his business from a chain coffee company. He also wanted to bring the experience of a New York City coffee shop into the suburbs of New Jersey in a time when independent coffee shops were practically unheard of in the area, according to him.
Two years ago, after successfully establishing a business with regular, daily customers in Madison, Jones decided to open another location in Chatham, New Jersey. “A location became available that had been a café. I liked the location, I liked the town. It had a good demographic. It checked all the boxes,” Jones explained. “Other than that, I do not know that I would have done a second location. It just worked.”
Not only does he have fresh coffee beans that are roasted in Ithaca, New York, but the coffee served at Drip is handcrafted, allowing the baristas to pay special attention to detail. “We made a concerted effort to do what they [Starbucks] couldn’t do,” Jones said. “All they do is put the cup underneath, press the button, and away they go… what we do is we grind the shot of espresso… we steam the milk by hand, we make the drink. We put the drink together.”
The Madison location serves about 400 customers per day, and about 80% of those customers are “regulars,” according to Jones––they come in every day, at the same time and order the same exact drink. On any given day, one could walk into Drip and see the place packed with college students doing homework, local residents catching up with each other, middle and high schoolers hanging out and even some college or job interviews happening. LeeAnn Nguyen (‘22), a regular customer said, “The coffee is so good, and the Wi-Fi is pretty reliable. The ambiance is really nice, and the workers are so friendly, but they need more seating.”
COURTESY OF KEVEN ARIEL MUÑOZ
The employees, which are mainly college students or recent graduates, have great relations with their customers. They can be heard making jokes and having conversations with the regulars. Dakota Armstrong (‘21), an employee at Drip, said, “We have a sort of advantage because being a barista means being able to make a drink that is exactly what someone wants, no matter what sort of unique concoction the person comes up with… making nobody feel like ‘just’ a customer.”
Jones also spoke of the customer service that makes Drip a special place. He says that the quality of the coffee and the service are what allows Drip to have so many loyal customers, even though the coffee at Drip is more expensive than at chains like Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts.
Looking forward, Jones said that Drip is trying to become much more environmentally friendly. Jones acknowledged the fact that the coffee industry has a large carbon footprint, which is why the store tries to motivate their customers to bring their own reusable cups and straws for some discounts. They have also tried to use compostable cups but have stopped because of their inability to maintain hot drinks, according to Jones.
Drip Coffee is located at 34 Main St., Madison, New Jersey 07940 and is open Mondays–Fridays from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m, Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.