[EDITOR'S NOTE — Each week, this feature section, “Movers and Makers,” will feature the stories of the movers, launchers, entrepreneurs and makers who contribute to the vitality of the Mahoning Valley. This section is supported by our first community partner, Farmers National Bank.]
BOARDMAN — High Octane Coffee Co. gives customers a unique cafe experience by serving house-made coffee, local ice cream and baked goods with a 1950s automotive theme that combines the “on the go” lifestyles of a car junkie and caffeine lover.
The coffee shop has been in business for four years now, first opening in Canfield and ultimately finding a permanent spot in Boardman. Since then, High Octane Coffee Co. has franchised to Austintown.
Owner Joe Sylvester said his company offers customers a piece of their normalcy during the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[It gives customers] that little piece of their daily routine that is still the same and consistent. I think there's something to be said about that as far as keeping everyone's mental attitude in a good place when you could offer them a little bit of interaction with their favorite barista and they can get their favorite morning or afternoon drink or breakfast sandwich,” he said.
“To be able to offer that to people during this time I feel it's been very important,” he added.
Sylvester said the coffee shop’s drive-thru has been a “saving grace” during the pandemic by allowing customers to order coffee while social distancing.
“We're still only open for drive-thru only right now. We promote that we have outdoor seating, we have an outdoor patio and if people would like to go through the drive-thru, whether it's on foot or in their vehicle, they're more than welcome to go sit out on the patio,” Sylvester said.
Aside from owning High Octane Coffee Co., Sylvester’s main occupation is a professional monster truck driver who first got into coffee because his life revolved around travel and unusual hours that led to a “constant need for caffeine.” Sylvester began visiting local coffee shops during his travels to educate himself on coffee.
Although he liked coffee, he wasn’t keen on the typical aesthetic of a coffee shop.
“Professional monster truck driver, tattoos and rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t exactly fit into a normal coffee shop. So that was when I decided to create my own take on a coffee shop — and
that's when the idea for high octane coffee was born,” he said.
“It's the true coffee experience without the atmosphere the coffee shops are known for,” he added.
The coffee shop offers a selection of hand-roasted origins, a plethora of espresso-based drinks, cold brew on tap, milkshakes, ice cream and light food offerings for breakfast and lunch. Menu item names aim to reflect the automotive culture.
High Octane Coffee Co. uses local ingredients, like milk products from Baker’s Golden Dairy, and supports other local businesses by regularly stocking baked goods from other Mahoning Valley eateries such as Molnar’s cinnamon rolls, White House Fruit Farms doughnuts and Nash Nutrition’s Nash Bars.
“I wanted to be able to offer things like that in my coffee shop as well, products I believe in,” Sylvester said.
Sylvester said customers can expect his coffee company’s house-made craft coffee to be served by an upbeat barista while rock ‘n roll music plays in the background. High Octane also hosts events like car shows.
“We used to do car shows once a week. We would do special car and truck shows on the weekend, a couple times a month. Truck shows, Jeep shows and then we would have our weekly cruise nights during the week just like A&W used to do,” Sylvester said.
“Obviously the world has different plans this year. So we've not been able to do that just for the simple fact that our parking lot is pretty small,” he added. “The amount of people that we attract for those events, it would just not be conducive for the current regulations that we have to abide by for the health department.”
Although Sylvester is unsure when High Octane Coffee Company will be hosting live events again, he said he is grateful to serve the community in some capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We're very, very thankful for the support we've had during this time since March,” he said.