On the first anniversary of Green Bean joining Joe Van Gogh, we take look back on the history of JVG and the company’s early beginnings.
If you have ever been to Greensboro, then chances are you know The Green Bean. It is considered an institution by many locals; a destination for visitors; and a landmark in the neighborhood. The iconic Kelly-Green façade and large window front of the original downtown shop has added vibrancy to Elm St since it opened in 2002. A mosaic glass door with the shape of a coffee bean beckons patrons into a unique space that combines historic charm with traditional coffeehouse coziness.
We proudly supplied coffee to Greensboro via the Green Bean stores for 15 years. Last May, we had the opportunity to become owners of the Greensboro staple and eagerly took the chance to be a greater part of the community. While the acquisition was a new venture for us, having a coffeeshop in Greensboro was not new for our owner, Robbie Roberts, who in a way, was coming home.
At the start of his career in coffee, Robbie roasted and served coffee under the name Cup A Joe. After opening Cup A Joe in Raleigh in 1991 with a former graduate school roommate, Robbie sold his part of that business – but he kept the name. He bought a new coffee roaster and opened Cup A Joe on Tate Street in 1994, which coincided with his sister’s time as a student at UNC-Greensboro. One year later, Robbie added a second store at the Timberlyne shopping center in Chapel Hill. Over the ensuing years, Robbie moved the roasting operation to Chapel Hill and later to Hillsborough, and the business transitioned to Joe Van Gogh to avoid confusion with the Raleigh stores of the same name. Cup A Joe was an early expression of Robbie’s vision to connect people through coffee.
The company has grown in many ways, but the intentions remain the same: to foster a community with great coffee. We have six cafés now; four in the Triangle-area and two in Greensboro. Despite having over 40 miles between our stores, it hardly feels like a great distance. That a simple beverage can bridge communities together is both humbling and gratifying.
Adding the Green Bean to the Joe Van Gogh family has been a natural progression. The warmth with which we have been received in the last year from both the Green Bean staff and its customers is a tribute to the community and coffee, at large. To once again have a storefront in Greensboro is like coming around full circle for Robbie and a token to the power coffee has in bringing people together. “It’s definitely nice to come full circle,” Robbie said. “I’ve roasted an awful lot of coffee in Greensboro. It is gratifying to have a direct connection again to the town that really helped me learn how to roast coffee. It is a definite homecoming!”
Read more about Robbie and Joe Van Gogh’s history in Greensboro in this February 2000 article from Our Sate magazine.