Java aims to perk up downtown with coffee and cafe fare

Todd Rippo, owner of Java, a new downtown coffee shop, said he likes to bring a "rock and roll" atmosphere to his enterprises.

Rippo, who lives in Sun Valley, Idaho, is the founder of the Java franchise, with five shops in his home state. The newest shop, on Church Lane, also serves breakfast and lunch, with all the bakery goods made from scratch, Rippo said.

The coffee, he said, is micro-roasted each Monday and is ready to be served by Thursdays. "It's incredibly fresh," he said.

Rippo said Java is designed to be an alternative to the chain outlets run by large coffee-selling businesses.

Keith Buckler, a first-time patron, agreed. "I like the ambiance here," said Buckler, who also was enjoying a plate of huevos rancheros. "There's a good feeling."

His friend, Robert Makuch, said he's glad "there's a place like this" downtown. "You can get your coffee in the morning and come back again for lunch," he said.

"This place is so cute," said Meredith Loring, another first-time customer, as she stepped inside the shop. "It doesn't look this big from the outside."

She said Java is a good addition to downtown. "It could really use a place like this," she added.

As an alternative to their usual meeting place -- at a book store -- members of a local writers' group opted for Java. "We've been meeting for 12 years," said Christine Pakkala, who writes children's books. Pakkala and two fellow writers were seated at a table near the back of the coffee shop.

"It's really great in here," said Pakkala. "The food is good, too."

Rippo said the idea to open a Java shop in Westport was broached by customer at his Sun Valley shop -- Brad Berk -- who suggested it would be a good addition to his hometown of Westport.

Rippo said they worked on finding the right location for about a year, before the Church Lane site -- Wild Pear cafe was previously open there -- became available.

While he was hands-on Thursday, Rippo said he plans to stay in town only for another two or three weeks before returning home.

"I'll stay here until I feel it's going good and it's on its way," he said. "I want to get back home. I have a family and 10-year-old daughter waiting there for me."

Java, 44 Church Lane, is open weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.