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End of an era as Java Jive outlets at U of A set to close

Java Jive coffee company.
Java Jive coffee company. Larry Wong, Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON – Edmonton coffee retailer and roaster Java Jive is shutting down after 37 years of perking up University of Alberta students.

The company announced Tuesday it is closing at the end of April its two campus coffee shops in HUB Mall and at the Students’ Union Building as well as its roasting facility off 99th Street, just south of Whyte Avenue.

Since Michael Ould started Java Jive in 1976, generations of sleep-deprived students and specialty coffee lovers lined up for a cup.

“We graduated a lot of students,” Ould said.

But he said a changing campus and increasingly competitive coffee market and expiring leases made it a good time to retire.

“I call it basically death by a thousand cuts. What’s happened over there, is the university has awarded Aramark Food Services exclusive rights to every building outside of the HUB and the SUB to develop businesses in and of course, they have chosen to develop the coffee business in most of these buildings.”

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Ould added the entry of fast-food giants such as McDonald’s and the game-changing popularity of single-serve coffee makers has taken away business.

Java Jive got its start after Ould returned from a trip to Spain with his wife where he developed a taste for European-style coffee and brought the idea back to the University of Alberta where he saw students lined up for vending-machine joe. He opened his first outlet at HUB Mall where queues as long as 250 people were common.

“We became a bit of a phenomenon,” Ould said.

In 1980, Java Jive started roasting its own beans locally at its Old Strathcona facility.