By Amanda Joerndt
It’s not hard to find a cup of joe in downtown Youngstown, but finding a bumblebee latte is another story. Youngstown locals walk through the doors of Joe Maxx Coffee Co. awaiting their favorite coffee at 265 W. Federal Street.
The coffee shop opened in Youngstown almost seven years ago and provides a relaxing and stress-free environment for students to take a break from their daily lives.
Victoria Clark, manager at Joe Maxx Coffee Co., has been working at the shop for five years, and said she greets new and old faces every day.
Clark said the shop provides an environment for students and community members to take a break from their daily lives.
“We want to be chill and the students from Youngstown State University to come here, get some lunch and sit for a few hours and relax,” she said. “We want to be a break from your desk job where you can come over with some friends.”
The shop serves signature pours such as sweet vanilla lattes with ground cinnamon, hazelnut lattes with honey and crushed pecans and iced banana and mocha lattes with sweet coconut.
The title “Joe Maxx” is not related to a person, but to an idea that turned into a reality for the owner, Mike Avey.
Joe Maxx was a pilot who flew coffee from the bean belt in the north and along the way crashed his plane. The only item left in his plane were coffee beans, which led him to sell coffee out of his plane.
Various Joe Maxx locations are also stationed in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Florida and Nevada.
Clark said working with her co-workers is her favorite part of the job, along with the science behind making a cup of coffee.
“We’ve all worked here for as long as I can remember; we’ve all been together,” she said. “My employees are my favorite, and I really like science in coffee working with math and numbers.”
She said she hopes for Joe Maxx to stay true to their roots with having a positive atmosphere.
“This Joe Maxx will always be here, whether it’s here or down the street again in seven years,” she said. “I would like to see more Joe Maxxes, but to stay the way that we are and to not become commercial.”
Dante DelBene, an employee at Joe Maxx, worked summer festivals for the coffee shop since 2013 and transferred to the Youngstown shop in 2016.
DelBene said the move from East to West Federal Street felt strange but was rewarding in the end.
“We have built a whole new shop and [Mike] did a great job because he built this shop from scratch,” he said. “It was weird because we went from working every day to not having a lot of business because of the move.”
DelBene said having a close knit group of co-workers is key to enjoying your work place.
“In service jobs, part of the only joys in that — other than working for your money — is the people,” he said. “You just have to have a good relationship with your co-workers and that’s what makes it worthwhile.”
DelBene said he hopes that Joe Maxx will keep the same environment while allowing the business to grow.
“I want to see Joe Maxx continue to be the coffee shop that everyone likes to come to and talk in,” he said. “It would be nice to see it grow how Mike is doing it with opening stores in different parts of the country, but I hope it doesn’t change from how it is.”
Brenda Zyvith, a legal secretary for RothBlair, is a Joe Maxx regular and has been a loyal customer since 2001.
Zyvith said her favorite part of Joe Maxx is trying a new product and talking with the employees.
“It’s the best coffee in town and these people are wonderful,” she said. “They’re more than just people who give me my coffee; they’re friends that I’ve had in my home and I’ve built great relationships here.”
Zyvith said Joe Maxx gives her a place to feel welcome and start her day off on the right foot.
“It’s welcoming, warm and a good product,” she said. “They get you in and out of here, and I would be disappointed if there wasn’t a Joe Maxx here.”