Every single day here at Sprudge we look for inspiring entrepreneurs working in the field of coffee. You can find dozens of stories like this right now over at our 2019 Sprudgie Awards portal honoring some of the most inspiring coffee professionals around the world.
But here at the end of 2019, we found one more story we’d love to share with you today. Quiana DeBerry, Crystal Graham, and Toni Dale are the founders of On The Go Jo, a coffee catering company serving events big and small across the Chicago area in need of a jolt and a little something special.
We sat down with the founders to learn more about their approach to coffee, events, and much, much more.
Tell us more about how the three of you got started and your backgrounds in coffee!
Toni: One day my husband and I were visiting an eclectic cafe in Michigan. It was super cool, I really enjoyed the happy vibe. I reached out to Quiana and Crystal and showed them the setup and suggested that we create something just as cool.
Quiana: We were on board and immediately started the research phase of opening a cafe. We quickly realized opening a cafe was a costly one.
Crystal: One night I was walking home and the idea came to me to start a pop-up cafe instead of the original brick and mortar idea. The “pop-up cafe” would allow us to pop into various locations and events. The girls were on board and from there the mobile cart idea was born!
What do each of you bring to the team?
We all have backgrounds that add to the business. Quiana is a skilled baker; she puts her own spin on delicious family recipes for On The Go Jo while incorporating her own. Crystal is the creative and a think tank. She handles all things marketing and brand-related. Toni has a sales background and manages new business development for the company.
What kind of coffee cart, tell us more about the gear, what kind of coffee is brewed on it.
Toni: We have three carts in our fleet (two newly added). Our original cart has commercial-grade equipment. We currently use the LUCCA A53 Espresso Machine by La Spaziale and a Zenith grinder. It’s also fully loaded with a rinser, plumbing, the works!! We are planning to add additional equipment in 2020.
Crystal: The second cart will have more of a branding focus which will allow corporate clients to add their logos or couples to add their monograms for weddings. It’s all about customization with this cart and it has a white sleek modern look.
Quiana: Last but not least we are introducing a new Brew Bar, which is our non-plumbed cart. This cart will allow our customers who are interested in pour-overs, freshly prepared cold brew mocktails, and flavored teas.
What have been some of your favorite events to cater so far?
Toni: We truly enjoyed preparing the drink menu for our Spring launch; it gave us an opportunity to be creative and step outside the traditional flavors that you might find at a coffee shop. We like to focus on presentation, creating beautiful drinks that start with delicious coffee but are also beautiful and Instagram worthy.
Crystal: Our very first event was with event planners to the stars, Kathy Romero and Akeshi Akinseye. So I would have to say that was an honor as I have been following their careers for some time. It was a surreal moment and we were truly thankful for the opportunity. I would also have to agree with our Spring Showcase being a favorite as it was a true labor of love. There were so many amazing vendors that we had the opportunity to work with to create something truly magical. This gave us the opportunity to invite industry leaders to our event to meet with us and taste our Spring/Summer menu. We definitely plan to do at least one mixer a year! We’ve worked with so many amazing brands and venues and they are all favorites for different reasons.
Have you considered catering events outside of the Chicago area? What’s the farthest you’ll travel for an event?
We have catered events in Cook, Dupage, and Kane counties. We cover a pretty substantial radius in the Chicagoland area. If you’re interested in booking with us, give us a call and we will be happy to figure out travel. We LOVE to travel so we are open and destination ready!
What are your specialty Jo drinks?
We have several specialty lattes from s’more to caramel apple. However, we would all have to say our customers’ favorites are a Cloud of Butterflies, which is our handwoven sugar made into cotton candy placed on top of a cup of freshly brewed coffee and decorated with edible butterflies. The “cotton candy” melts right into the coffee for a lightly sweetened cup of Jo.
Crystal: Our other customer favorite is our 24K Magic, which is made with real edible gold. It’s also my personal favorite. It’s simple, yet luxurious, and creative.
If you could bring On The Go Jo to any event, what would it be and why?
Quiana: Honestly, every event we are excited about. We would love to work with a movie studio (Tyler Perry, we are willing to travel lol).
Toni: Maybe a production set in LA as I love California.
Crystal: I’m personally inspired by a lot of female entrepreneurs, so any event with Myleik Teele, Courtney Adeleye, Morgan Debaun, etc. I would really love to do Refinery 29 rooms and have a coffee shop in one of the rooms, Essence Fest or work with a big brand to be the official coffee of their event. With my Marketing and Branding background, I love to work with brands! While we have already worked with some amazing brands over the years, I am excited to expand in that area. We are excited about the future and learning and growing more with our peers in the coffee industry.
Zachary Carlsen is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Zachary Carlsen on Sprudge.
Photos courtesy of On The Jo Go.