As a kid, Chuck Jones grew up visiting his grandfather’s coffee farm in Guatemala. Then, years later, he and his brother Larry decided to start their own coffee business together. In 1994, they established Jones Coffee Roasters, which has become a local favorite throughout South Pasadena, San Marino, and the surrounding areas.
“We started selling our coffee to roasters in the Southwest and expanded outwards from there,” Jones said. “We started roasting a few years later, and I rented a space inside Soda Jerks on Fair Oaks (Avenue) where I roasted coffee. In our first year of roasting, we began supplying Caltech’s alumni coffee house on campus. Later on, we won the bid to become the coffee supplier for the entire campus. It all just continued from there.”
After selling coffee wholesale for 16 years, Jones Coffee Roasters expanded into retail—now the brand can be found in stores such as Whole Foods and in restaurants as well, including Cos&Pi, Fiore Market Café, Gus’s BBQ, Julienne, and Lost Parrot Café, among others. Their coffee is also available for purchase on their website, thebestcoffee.com.
“Approximately half of our coffee comes from the farm in Guatemala, and I also buy coffee from my cousins that have farms and other growers,” said Jones. “Our roaster Rafael has been doing his own projects sourcing coffee in Guatemala, so we bring in some great varieties of coffee.”
Recently, Jones Coffee Roasters opened its third coffee shop on Mission Street in South Pasadena, in the spot where Buster’s Coffee used to be. Its two other locations are in Pasadena, on Raymond Avenue and in Vroman’s Bookstore on Colorado Boulevard. Jones said that in the next few weeks, he is opening a fourth location with a drive-through on Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena.
The standard fare served at Jones Coffee Roasters includes espressos, cappuccino and drip coffee, as well as bagel chips and granola, which they make themselves. Their sandwiches and salads come from Hope Café, and at the Mission Street location, they also serve Fosselman’s ice cream.
“I like keeping our business local because everyone knows us around here,” Jones said. “The community has been really excited about us being here. The Jones Coffee experience is different at each location, and that’s determined by the neighborhood. It’s like a blank canvas—it’s some place for the neighborhood to dress up however they want.”
They are also expanding to more college campuses, where their coffee is being served in cafeterias and shops. Jones sets up tastings with students and faculty, features games with prizes, and educates them about the origins of coffee.
Jones Coffee Roasters is dedicated to community building, and has a fundraising program that enables clubs and organizations to sell their coffee to raise money for non-profits. Participants can select their own coffee blend, have a label designed, and will receive five dollars for every bag that is sold. Those interested in being involved can send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Jones’ daughter also started a fundraising and service club at South Pasadena High School, which raises money to help underprivileged kids in Guatemala attend summer camp every year at Lake Atitlan.
“I spent my whole life going to our family’s coffee farm,” said Jones. “I took my first trip there when I was five-years-old, and have been going down there once a year ever since. It has become part of my DNA. I remember as a kid growing up, I just wanted to be a small businessman for the longest time. It has been my biggest dream to put the nuts and bolts of this together. Once I had a great team in place, the skies opened up. It took a long time, but I just had to trust, and now I finally have the liberty to enjoy it.”
Jones Coffee Roasters South Pasadena is located at 1006 Mission St. in South Pasadena. It is open Mon., Tues. & Wed. from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thur. & Fri. from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sat. from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sun. from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call (626) 564-9291. For more information, visit thebestcoffee.com.
Jones Coffee Roasters South Pasadena Business Spotlight appeared in the print edition of the South Pasadena Review on 5.3.19. Support Local Business.