To paraphrase the great Shrek, Just Pour has layers, like an onion. Let’s peel back the layers and discover what Just Pour is, and who brought it to life. (No, the founder isn’t an ogre...although perhaps his Fiona would have a different opinion.)
Imagine Bridgewater, MA. It’s not quite a town, and it’s not quite a city. Neither the Cape, nor Metro South. Not quite cranberry country, either. A rail line runs through Bridgewater, but the tracks were initially laid down to carry cargo and passengers through town, and not to it. Two major highways cross one another in the southwestern corner of town - yet technically this interchange takes place in neighboring Raynham. There is a state university, until only recently a state college, and yet the university’s influence doesn’t penetrate much beyond the handful of shops sustained by the student body and its faculty. Bridgewater is, in other words, in no wise a “college town” in the way that Northampton or Cambridge are.
Yet the town is charming and beautiful. The Taunton River begins here, where the Matfield and Town rivers spill into one another in the northern reaches of town, and this ecologically significant waterway, where otters play, marks much of the town’s eastern and southern borders. Along the river’s bucolic course folks canoe in warmer weather. Its southern districts are spotted with ancient cemeteries sandwiched between more recently-constructed front-to-rear splits and raised ranches, and here and there are old district churches raised in times when to miss two consecutive weeks of Sunday service would be to invite the gossip and speculation of one’s neighbors. Ponds appear behind elms and oaks denuded by winter’s cold, resembling bright dishes of cobalt under the December sunshine, and you may catch glimpse of a laborer taking a much-deserved break by casting his line out into the pond.
Before he founded Just Pour, tax accountant and financial advisor Jason Hebert owned and operated a coffee shop in the heart of this town, around its splendid common (which would be an iconic example of a New England village green if not for the impossible noise and traffic, engendered by Routes 28, 18 and 104 all coming together there, a fact which works against contemplative and leisurely sightseeing). This coffee shop was called Better Bean. It served, in this writer’s opinion, the best sandwiches in town, which could be washed down by a delicious cup of Speedwell-roasted coffee in a parlor-like setting surrounded by paintings, and served by a helpful and friendly coterie of college kids and aspiring artists, or by folks who have made a career in the service industry - who were also friendly! Better Bean was, before Covid ravaged our country, a place for retired farmers and contractors to meet very early in the morning and shoot the shit, a place for college professors and their students to enjoy intellectually stimulating conversation, and a place for folks who prefer their own company to read Sartre, James Baldwin, a volume of light poetry perhaps. Where exchange students from faraway countries could meet with their sponsors and college friends to make the rewarding if difficult go of learning how to fit into a new place, thousands of miles away from anyone who loves and knows them.
It was a coffee shop in the truest sense of the word, in other words. And in the middle of running this establishment with the aid of his team, Jason began to consider reaching other markets he could not touch solely as a coffee shop operator. Soon, he came up with a kindred project. A few doors down from his flagship shop, along Bridgewater’s gorgeous, if noisy, village green, Jason rented a small warehouse space wherein he could set up the equipment and establish the logistics necessary to start this new venture: a subscription-based, environmentally-sustainable and consumer-friendly home delivery service for coffee. Pour-over coffee, pre-ground, each serving packaged in a biodegradable filter, to be placed by the consumer in a stand that Jason himself designed, so that all the customer would have to do is simply pour hot water over the grounds bagged in their biodegradable mesh filter until all that fragrant and delicious coffee drips down into a waiting mug. Delivered to your door, no fuss, no muss, and at a cheaper cost than Keurig’s subscription service, with fewer deleterious impacts on the environment. (One may not expect, for instance, to see Just Pour filter bags floating among the enormous garbage-islands in the Pacific - as one sees spent K-cups or green Starbucks straws.)
Better Bean, its sister-shop, Somethin’s Brewin’ in Lakeville (both sadly and permanently closed, victims of the pandemic), and Just Pour, alive and thriving, together exemplify Jason’s belief that coffee’s function is so much more than in simply providing weary drinkers with a bit of zing in the morning. Together, they typify his belief that coffee can serve as a pivot around which communities revolve, can serve as a strange sort of centrifuge-zone where time slows down within as its continues to speed out of control without, outside, where the trucks belch their carbons into the air, where drivers trying to answer work-related text messages don’t notice pedestrians waiting at crosswalks, and sometimes hit them, where addled citizens tailgate and run red lights in order to score smack, where stressed delivery drivers rush pizzas and breaded chicken to their destinations for no pension and no health care. That coffee can be civilization in the best sense of the word. And that it can be purveyed morally with just a little extra effort.
Just Pour, then, is the attempt by a tax accountant who is fascinated with and enamored of coffee to deliver a moral coffee product to subscribers at the most affordable cost possible. So that not only professors can enjoy a good cup delivered to their door, or retired contractors, or artists burgeoning into self-awareness, but also those truck drivers hauling sand and gravel hither and yon, those stressed pizza delivery drivers - and maybe even those underemployed young people dependent for too long on the toxic analgesic of stepped-on street-drugs. Everyone.
Stay tuned for Part 2