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Hidden Gems of Tuscaloosa: Five Java serves coffee and pastries

Lauren Lane

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Nestled next to one of Tuscaloosa’s most popular restaurants lies a quiet place to study, catch up with old friends and enjoy the fall weather with a fresh cup of coffee. Five Java is the only shop of its kind in town, serving custom-made coffee drinks and fresh-pressed juices. It is also one of the only coffee shops located downtown.

After being inspired by a restaurant with an adjacent bakery in New York City, Colby Conklin, manager of Five, wanted to try to bring that same concept back to Tuscaloosa.

“When we first opened Five Java up our intentions were for it to be a bakery, and it got turned more into a coffee shop,” said Conklin. “We wanted it to be different in that it offered juices as well. I think we are the only shop that sells fresh-pressed juices in town.”

Five Java began just serving coffee, juice, muffins and granola in 2012, but it now features a breakfast and lunch menu with a variety of homemade baked goods for purchase throughout the day. Conklin hopes visitors will now have more of a reason to find solace on a plush couch and enjoy a homemade meal and personalized drink with the kind of quality one has come to expect from Five. The manager said regulars come and stop by several times throughout the day thanks to the new menu additions.

“We’ve really thought that [a breakfast and lunch menu] was the one thing we were missing,” Conklin said. “It took time, we had to treat it as thought it was our main staple and when we did that, when we put our full attention toward it, that’s when we were able to see the success it would be able to generate. We are proud and happy to have it and be apart of our company. It has a big potential to grow and keep getting better and better.”

Haley Rosetta, a junior majoring in nursing, said the coconut iced coffee is her go-to item. 

“I must say, I’ve drank a lot of coffee, but theirs’ far exceeds the other places,” she said.

Cinnamon rolls are one of Conklin’s favorite new menu items and is excited for all of the new additions and growth that is to come. Their goal is to begin to bring more chocolate items in the future.

“We recently hired a pastry chef, Edward Gee,” Conklin said. “His talent has not even been surfaced yet. He’s been a huge asset and really enhanced our offering with everything fresh and homemade. It’s funny that we started out wanting to be a bakery but didn’t really take that route, and now it’s come full circle.”   

Rosetta may come for the coffee, but she lingers and enjoy the cozy atmosphere. 

“The environment is great for studying and meeting up with friends,” she said. “Every time I have been there, the music has been great, which is important to me. The customer service is excellent, and I just always feel welcomed.” 

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Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894
Hidden Gems of Tuscaloosa: Five Java serves coffee and pastries