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Photo provided by Sean Smothers.

Student-run business unites customers through music, coffee

Music is one of the languages with which most humans can resonate. And if there’s one beverage most humans love and rely on, it’s coffee. Among all of the matters society tends to disagree on, both music and coffee are two integrals of everyday life that people can recognize as culturally significant.

Sean Smothers, a junior studying marketing, has been developing a strategy for over a year now to blend the two as a way to connect individuals with themselves and their peers. In October 2021, Smothers executed his vision and made his dream a reality with his newfound business, Jukebox Java. 

Jukebox Java establishes itself on the slogan “Come back to life,” Smothers said, as his intention is to “bring you closer to yourself and the person next to you.” 

“When you look around, nobody can really talk to each other anymore,” Smothers said.

To help combat this ongoing trend in an age of social media and social distancing, Smothers sells his handmade cold brew coffee at Jukebox Java with the choice of hazelnut, vanilla, pumpkin spice, French toast and salted caramel syrup for $3. 

One of the most notable parts of the business is when one purchases a coffee, the cup will come with a sticker displaying the title of a song and its corresponding artist, personalized for each customer to then search and listen to. 

“I just kind of take people at face value, and I just think, ‘They look like they would like this,’ but I personally enjoy every song that I give out,” Smothers said. 

Smothers classifies his music taste as “diverse,” considering he is not only a barista by day but also a DJ by night. 

“I learn new music every night when I DJ, just by requests, so I really get a sense of the music that people like,” Smothers said. 

Addie Marriner, a sophomore studying marketing, said she received a song by Goth Babe that she had never heard before placed on her cup, and she loved it. 

“I think it's really cool how he's incorporating his passion for music into a business,” Marriner said. 

The DJ and newly authorized business owner, in both forms of work, embodies Louis Armstrong’s quote: “Music is life itself.”

“When you really listen to the lyrics of any song, it's all about the important stuff in life,” Smothers said. “Your memories can be registered through music. We all have memories that are accessed through a song that makes us think about a certain somebody, whether it's a friend, parent, ex-relationship (or) future relationship.” 

Smothers anticipates gaining new relationships and fulfillment from this intimate business, as he believes it is his “purpose to live this out and do it.” Naturally, Smothers has succeeded in doing so in just a short period of time. 

A key interaction Smothers experienced in the early weeks of his business occurred between him and a stranger who was initially intrigued by the logo on Smothers’ stand. When Smothers detailed the mission and purpose of Jukebox Java, the man’s eyes lit up, Smothers said. 

Smothers said not only did the man buy a coffee and stick around to drink it, but he also told him it was some of the best coffee he had ever had and that the song was amazing, too. Needless to say, he let Smothers know he would definitely be coming back. 

“That's something I'll probably remember forever,” Smothers said. 

As for the future, the music lover has considerable plans for himself and Jukebox Java. 

“I want to be the next Starbucks 100%, and I think it's absolutely possible,” Smothers said.

Before jumping the gun, though, he said he wants to be able to tour colleges in a coffee truck while having the chance to share the same energy with other campuses that Ohio University is currently experiencing. 

Dylan Ceslak, a junior studying finance and marketing and a friend of Smothers, said he is one of the most passionate people he knows. 

“When he has a drive to do something, he will get it done and have fun doing it,” Ceslak said in a message. “Jukebox Java is an incredible idea with even better coffee and there is no doubt in my mind that he will succeed.”

Smothers can be found at his Jukebox Java stand weekdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 8 N. College St. and will later be relocating back to College Green in hopes of reaching more people.


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