In the heart of Boonton, New Jersey, where the essence of freshly brewed coffee fills the town, a tale unfolds within the cozy confines of Java Smugglers. This coffee shop is only a few short miles from Montclair and is known for its volcanic soil coffee, bourbon barrel flavors, and low acidity level. Java Smugglers started as an online shop, then evolved from a converted school bus serving as a mobile cafe and juice bar to its current brick-and-mortar spot at 922 Main Street in Boonton. In February 2023, Alex Krasmiakov, alongside his wife Izabela, opened his first-ever coffee shop, Java Smugglers, which stands today in Boonton. Read more to learn about Java Smugglers and the couple behind it.
About the Owners
The journey of Java Smugglers began with owner Alex Krasmiakov’s first encounter with coffee working as an expediter for a high-end catering company, Neuman’s Kitchen, in New York City. During a walkthrough of a coffee house in the Lower East Side, Alex’s eyes were drawn to burlap bags from multiple countries, each representing a unique culture, taste note, flavor, acidity level, and processing method. Instantly, Alex was inspired by the bean, and the idea brewed in him to venture into the world of coffee.
Alex’s wife Izabela joined in the venture at that point. They began their coffee exploration with a walkthrough session at Shared Roasting, a Brooklyn-based company that guides entrepreneurs in launching coffee brands. From there, they delved into research and experimentation with various coffee flavors and juices. The name itself, Java Smugglers, evokes the fascinating history of coffee. “It was prohibited just like alcohol was at some point because it was believed that coffee causes some kind of demonic influence in human behavior,” Alex said. ” But people loved it just like they loved alcohol so they still smuggled it from country to country and stole it from royalty. So we thought, why don’t we add that little bit of humor to the name? And that’s how Java Smugglers was born.”
Java Smugglers started as an online shop in 2021. Alex and Izabela converted a school bus into a mobile cafe and juice bar. The duo would go to farmer’s markets and festivals throughout North Jersey. Every third Sunday of the month, the husband-and-wife team would set up shop in the mobile cafe and juice bar on Hoboken’s 14th Street. The overwhelmingly positive response paved the way for a physical location at Boonton’s Main Street with the official opening of Java Smugglers on February 3rd, 2023. “We instantly fell in love with the location with its big windows and source of light, we saw our vision come to life,” Alex said.
About Java Smugglers
Now, Java Smugglers has a permanent home located at 922 Main Street in Boonton, New Jersey. During Alex’s coffee exploration, he was drawn to the bean with the lowest acidity level, given the belief that individuals often consume multiple cups of coffee daily. With this idea, the coffee is cultivated by local farmers on the islands of Indonesia, which “grants the most favorable climates for growing the coffee plant,” according to Alex. The high altitude and volcanic soil found in this region contribute to the strong aroma, low acidity, and flavor. Also, its distinct offering of bourbon barrel-aged coffee is what sets Java Smugglers apart from other coffee shops within the area.
“When someone walks in my coffee shop, I most importantly want to offer them a welcoming vibe and the most positive interactive customer service,” Alex said. “I want them to feel like they came into a very warm place that would be hard for them to leave. And the bottom line, the quality of coffee is essential to me so I hope to offer the most delicious drinks that they can experience,” Alex said.
Bourbon-flavored products have recently become popular in doughnuts, maple syrup, ice cream, and drinks. Alex and Izabela leaped into this trend and experimented with different recipes on how to create a bourbon barrel-aged coffee. Once satisfied with the recipe, they sourced barrels from a company purchasing from Texas and Kentucky distilleries. “After the coffee beans have been aged, it gets roasted at 475-500 degrees, so there’s no chance of alcohol to stay, however, incredible flavor remains,” Alex said.
The ambiance at Java Smugglers reflects Alex’s passion for antiques and art, creating a space where beauty blends seamlessly with the aroma of coffee. Alex believes that antiques and art carry a message that translates well into his inspiration for decoration. His goal was to create an environment for customers to go on their first date, unwind, and enjoy a good book. The coffee shop is adorned with antique artworks, furniture pieces, a large bookshelf, and comfortable seating areas. Antique dishes play a vital role in the cafe’s aesthetic, each showcasing distinct imagery ranging from Victorian figures to artistic designs.
The menu features a wide range of coffees and flavors including bourbon barrel-aged coffee and blue moon barley. Alex emphasizes that preparation is a key factor in the production of coffee and that these varieties can be enjoyed via drip, iced, or siphon vacuum preparations. Java Smugglers is also known for its specialty lattes such as pumpkin spice, gingerbread, Nutella, peanut butter, and salted caramel. Aside from lattes and coffees, one can try its juices, smoothies, teas, and pastries- including a bourbon tiramisu. MG recommends trying the lavender matcha iced latte. A bonus: Alex will add a shot of espresso to the matcha latte upon request.
Java Smugglers actively engages with the community from supporting school events to hosting live music, open mic nights, and magic shows. Local artists or community members looking for a space to host events are encouraged to contact Java Smugglers through its Instagram. Java Smugglers operates every day from 7AM-7PM. For more lifestyle content, be sure to follow @themontclairgirl on Instagram and TikTok.