By Catherine Cervone
Jitters Coffee Cafe, the coffee shop that got Lakeland jittery, has only been open for four months. So why are they moving?
Jitters Coffee Cafe celebrated their “re grand opening” on Jan. 28. They had just moved locations from their original store in Lakeland Square Mall, where they opened last September, to their new store in a shopping center on the south side of Lakeland.
Vincent Patterson, the owner of Jitters Coffee Cafe, wasn’t satisfied with the mall management. To him, it didn’t feel as if they were catering to small businesses enough.
Even if you’re a freshman at Florida Southern and have only been off campus once or twice, you still probably realized that small businesses are a big deal in Lakeland.
Once Patterson realized he wanted to move, he acted quickly. He sent one of his employees, Alberto, to look at a vacant storefront on the south side. The next day, he bought that shop. That was around Christmas time, after the store had been open for just over three months, Alberto said.
The new store is set to offer a range of drinks and food options. Jitters will sell the usual coffee and tea (cold and hot), along with frappuccinos and smoothies. They’re going to start making their sandwiches in house and will have a variety of pastries and bagels. They also sell honey and other various snacks. Most of the food items Jitters sells that aren’t made in house are sourced from local bakeries, such as Uncle Nick’s, another locally owned “mom-and-pop” type of store, a Jitters employee said. Where Vincent purchases his products for the shop is another way he shows his support of small businesses.
With so many different options on the menu, I asked three Jitters staff members for the names of their favorite drinks. Courtney liked the café cortadito, which has four shots of espresso. “It’s really strong, but I really like it. It keeps me up,” Courtney said.
Sarah’s favorite sips is one of their holiday drinks: the peppermint mocha. One of Alberto’s favorite is a smoothie that he enjoys drinking as much as he enjoys making.
“We have a smoothie called the tropical green tea smoothie that I like. I love to make it. It tastes really good, and has spinach in it,” Alberto said.
Speaking of spinach, Jitters offers many healthy-eating options. All of their smoothies are made with fresh fruit instead of syrups, Courtney said. They use organic juices. They also have a variety of milk options too for every diet, ranging from whole milk to skim milk and featuring milk alternatives such as soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk.
All of the Jitters employees are around college age, and Sarah mentioned that’s one of the things she likes best about working here. “We’re all close,” she said, also saying that their boss is only a few years older than them.
The small age gap between the employees and their boss might be one of the reasons why they have such a good relationship with him. Courtney said Vincent values communication with his employees. “He really likes to know what we think and how we like the shop, because we’re the ones working here,” Courtney said. “He knows that, and he doesn’t want to be the strict boss that just tells you how it is.
“I like having a say in how things work, unlike in a chain store where you don’t really get a say,” Alberto said too.
This move might be good for Jitters. The south side of Lakeland might be a better location for a coffee shop, what with being so close to Florida Southern College and Southeastern University, two of the four colleges that call Lakeland home. According to some of Jitter’s employees, the mall audience was mostly older customers.
You can see just by looking around the shop that the new location is trying to appeal to students. Sarah said Vincent wants this to be a great place for students to hang out and study, and with the minimalist, hipster decorations and tables set up inside and outside, Jitters seems like the perfect place to do that.
There’s no shortage of coffee shops in Lakeland, but Jitter’s employees say that the high value Patterson places on customer feedback is what sets the shop apart from others. Vincent cares not only about communication with his crew, but also with his customers, and takes feedback very seriously. “That’s why we have Facebook,” Courtney said, “because he takes feedback so seriously.”
“He’s always looking for a different way for people to get back to us about something. The best part is that he’s flexible,” Alberto said, speaking of an open relationship between customer and store. “I remember as a joke, I mentioned a mango mocha frappe, and he’s like ‘we’ll try that!’” And now we’re going to have that as one of our spring drinks,” Alberto said.
So next time you’re in the mood for a coffee fix or just need a quiet place to study, Jitters Coffee Cafe might just be the place.