Barista Wants to Take Local Coffee, Pastries on the Road

Jesaca BarnettCoffee has defined Jesaca Barnett’s career. At 18, she worked at Barnie’s; then she pulled shots at Black & Brew when it opened 10 years ago. Now she’s a stay-at-home mom, but people actually call her at home and order coffees to go. So she’s planning to take her java chops on the road by opening her own shop in a 1976 VW bus she’ll convert into a mobile coffee stand.

Barnett, 30, has launched a Kickstarter to raise the $25,000 she needs to convert the VW, buy the equipment and generally start the business, Clocktower Coffee.

This is one of three active Lakeland-based Kickstarters. The others are for a $12,000 mural at the Polk Museum of Art and $10,000 for outdoor seating at Fat Maggie’s.

The Clocktower name comes from her love of Barbara Gordon comic books, Barnett says, and her customers’ desire “to drink coffee around the clock.”

Her micro-bus has a “pristine” engine, but the body needs restoration, not to mention slicing off the roof and turning it into a pop-top, she says.

This is the look Barnett is going for:

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Barnett plans to emphasize local products. Her beans will come from Patriot Coffee, owned by her former Black & Brew boss, Chris McArthur. (Patriot’s launch was boosted by a $16,574 Kickstarter last year that attracted 189 backers.)

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Likewise, she’s planning to partner with a local baker for sweet treats.

She doesn’t see her operation as competition for Drica’s Favorites, another Lakeland food truck featuring specialty coffees and baked goods.

For one thing, she’s planning to target venues where young mothers congregate rather than business parks. Regular stops would include places like the public library around story time or Common Grounds Park.

In addition, she’s planning to have a set daily route rather than stops that vary every day.

“The van is going to attract people, and the coffee and food will keep them coming back,” she said.

With 40 days to go, the two-month Kickstarter campaign has attracted 14 donors who have pledged $2,445. Under Kickstarter rules, she gets no funds — and donors shell out no money — if she fails to meet the $25,000 goal.