He talks a good cup o’ Java

By on February 22, 2006

Much like Gene Wilder in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” the man behind the chocolate, he has curly hair peeking out from under a black hat. He always has a smile on his face and knows everybody by name.

But you don’t need a golden ticket to get one of his tasty treats. He is the man, the myth, the legend. He is “Java John,” the man behind the coffee.

John Raccio, better known as “Java John,” has made coffee for Quinnipiac students since he opened a coffee cart in the cafeteria in the fall of 1996.

“I am not a coffee drinker, sorry to say kids. Coffee gets me a little too fast going. I usually have water or tea,” Raccio said. He prefers regular tea with lemon. No milk.

His coffee stand has since transformed into an urban industrial franchise, Starbucks.

Quinnipiac students seem to enjoy having a Starbucks on campus, and especially having their coffee served by a friendly and familiar face.

“I think John is a very pleasant and personable man. He always starts a conversation,” Melanie Gerhart, a junior Spanish major, said.

“Java John” serves approximately 100 to 150 students per day.

“I try to deal with each customer personally. I know their names,” Raccio said. “It brings personalization to the Starbucks mantra – a corporate ideal.”

Adrianne Kelly, a junior occupational therapy student, appreciates Raccio’s charm.

“He always makes it a point to socialize with you. I like it when he calls every girl by the same name and asks her if she is from one of these three towns he knows on Long Island: Jericho, Miller Place, or Stony Brook,” Kelly said.

A typical day in the life of “Java John” begins at 3:45 in the morning. He punches in at 6:30 a.m., cleans the machines, brews fresh coffee, and mixes special recipes.

“The thing that motivates me [to come to work each morning] is seeing the students. It’s not for the money, let me just say that,” Raccio said.

By 7 a.m. the “onslaught” of students begins. The rush for coffee lasts between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. Even when he is leaving at 3 p.m. they want him to “make one last cup.”

Deborah Grady, a staff member of the undergraduate financial aid office, said that the most pleasant part of her day is when she gets a cup of coffee from Raccio.

“He is very accommodating. He does his best to make sure you are happy. He can actually brighten up your day,” Grady said.

Raccio has been a businessman for 25 years. Before coming to the university he owned a child service product company that made baby products and cloth diapers. He also donated his time to youth

athletic affairs.

Not much else is known about “Java John.” When asked personal questions, he prefers not to comment and remains secretive because he is “QU CIA in the cafeteria.”

“Java John” will remain the man, the myth, and the legend. One thing is for sure, the students are the reason he comes to work every morning.

“Students are all so very nice. They seem to understand what I do, how I operate. They get it,” Raccio said.


About Lisa Odierno and Tanya Lagatel