RumJava - The Happy Marriage Of Rum And Coffee

RumJava - The Happy Marriage Of Rum And Coffee

RumJava - The Happy Marriage Of Rum And Coffee

Craft Rum Box | RumJava Signature Rum

RumJava has a fantastic range of rums and a wonderful story behind them! Founders Brian and Mindy Cunningham share the beautiful beginnings that led them on to creating their fantastic range of rums.

The story of RumJava is very much a story of love. And who doesn't love a love story? It begins on the island of St. John, the smallest of the three US Virgin Islands. Brian and Mindy were on holiday there in 2002. They love to travel, share experiences and make memories. “As we were falling in love with each other, we were also falling in love with St. John and it's Caribbean culture.” So much so, that in 2003 the couple got engaged on a sailboat just off the coast, and in 2004 they were married at Turtle Bay Point. “St John is a very special place to us”, explains Brian. And it certainly sounds like it. At the time there were no mobile signal towers so on the island they found, as Brian says, a “special respite where [they] could completely relax and focus on one another.”

Over time the couple found they were returning to the island more and more. They invested in property and created a boutique gift and gourmet shop which offered personalised concierge services and their very own Java’Mon coffee. “Our goal was to help island visitors create memories and fall in love with St. John just as we had.” The creation of their Java’Mon coffee had come from Mindy’s love of coffee. “During our many visits to St John, Mindy who loves her coffee, could never find a good cup of coffee on the island.” Spying the opportunity, the couple opened a coffee shop of their own, thinking it would solve Mindy’s problems and perhaps other people on the island who loved coffee. “When we couldn’t find good beans to use in our coffee shop, we decided to learn how the coffee business works which resulted in us sourcing our own beans, creating our own unique coffee blends, and creating our very own Java’Mon coffee”. The coffee represents the combination of three passions, Brian’s love for Reggae music, their love for the Caribbean, and Mindy’s love for coffee. The blends were named after their favourite places on the island, forging connections for those who drank it. The coffee was a runaway success, and before long it could be found all over the island.

So where does the rum come in? The rum comes in to make the couples perfect drink. “Ironically,” Brian says, “though Mindy has this amazing passion for coffee, I don’t drink coffee. I do however love rum. Mindy loves coffee but doesn’t drink rum. The quest to find a new way to create a cocktail we could actually enjoy together began.”

The pair began with a vanilla rum-based espresso martini called Mahtini’Mon. They then partnered with bars and restaurants that served their coffee and were happy to use it in a cocktail. Cross promoting the coffee shop and bars worked really well. However, they noticed the inconsistency in ingredient supply and how the cocktail was being made. I don’t know about you but when it comes to my favourite drink, I want it to be made just right. This led to a discussion concluding that if they created the drink themselves, the partner bars and restaurants would serve it, it could be sold in the store and they would have the perfect drink to enjoy themselves. The next step was learning how to make the spirit.

There were obvious stipulations. They knew it had to be rum and they knew it had to have coffee. Considering the National Park on the island they knew it had to be sustainable and all-natural ingredients. With their palates loving one aspect but not the one (Brian's loving rum and Mindy loving coffee), they knew it had to be well balanced. They started the process by infusing rum with coffee beans in mason jars. They experimented with numbers of beans and length of time until they started striking the right balance.

In making their rum now, they use high-quality molasses from sugarcane grown in the Florida Everglades. After fermentation, the rum is distilled twice in a pot still with a copper column. Reclaimed, ionized water is used to lower the proof and they add freshly roasted coffee beans for at least 30 days to extract both colour and flavour. They use a different blend of beans depending on the flavour profile of the rum they are producing. The beans once extracted are dried and used for other things like making dark chocolate bars. They add other natural flavours, filter, hand bottle, and hand seal. The end result is an extremely quaffable spirit appealing to a very wide demographic. RumJava is enjoyed neat, on the rocks, shaken and stirred into amazing and unique cocktails.

“Another way to look at our quest to create RumJava”, says Brian, “is that we wanted to create a spirit that we could enjoy together while extending the range of cocktails on the island by creating a one of two-ingredient cocktail with a consistent supply chain and the ability to execute consistency. While we helped bars and restaurants introduce Espresso Martinis, we also made it possible for them to offer a two-ingredient Espresso Martini shot at speed bars. And,” he adds, “we crafter the perfect balanced spirit Mindy and I can enjoy together.”

Brian and Mindy are no strangers to hard work. And after spending much time and effort building their business, they had the carpet pulled out from after them in Sept 2012 when Hurricane Irma hit St John. “It is often said the things that don’t kill you make you stronger. Mindy and I survived 5.5 hours of 265mph winds and it didn’t kill us, it made us stronger. Hurricane Irma really was a life-changing event.” By the time the hurricane turned towards the British Virgin Islands, it was too late to leave so the couple boarded up their business, collected supplies, and hunkered down. As the hurricane approached the wind speed accelerated from 135 to over 185mph and kept rising. “Mindy and I have matching necklaces engraved with our wedding date and the coordinates of St John. Just before Irma made landfall, we were watching the news while the reporters showed the projected path of the storm. They announced the current location of the storm and it was less than 10 degrees of the coordinates on our necklaces. Irma was headed for a direct hit on St. John and was forecast to make a turn heading straight up through Florida where our Fort Lauderdale home would be in the most dangerous part of the storm and more importantly, two of our four daughters were also in the path of the storm.”

Brian’s recount of the storm is truly frightening. “Then it all started. We lost power, the wind, the rain, the falling trees, the flying debris, the water coming through the lights and electric sockets, the water building on the first floor, then cracking windows and a piece of roof breaking away. We created a safe room but couldn’t use it. The pressure was too much, the room was too hot and the unforgettable smell of the shredded trees was coming in through the exhaust vents was too much. We moved a sofa near the front door, re-recorded our will and placed our passports, phones, and some cash in a plastic bag, and waited. When it was all over, it was sheer devastation as far as the eye could see. There was not a leaf left on a tree, no green grass, and hillsides once lined with homes and thick with foliage were barren. We didn’t have cell service and without communication, we didn’t know where the storm was, where it was headed, and we feared it was on a direct path to Florida. Incredibly, we discovered a neighbour’s working cell phone with a random (but rapidly disappearing signal) and were able to get a call out to one of our daughters to let them know we had survived Irma and make sure they had appropriate plans given the severity of the storm.”

The couple made their way two miles across the island, through debris, to their store. It was 24 hours before they saw their first helicopter pass over the island and days before their mobile signal was restored and they were able to communicate with the outside world. They opened their store for the five days after as a space for people to gather. “We were all in shock and the store offered a place for people to share their stories, share hugs, let others know they were okay, and simply decompress.” They assisted in evacuating and were evacuated themselves to Puerto Rico, moving on back to Florida a few days after. They responded to this by making a new coffee blend Love City Strong, to raise money for hurricane relief.

RumJava have a range of rums. In this month’s Spiced Rum Box you’ll find a bottle of their RumJava Artisan Crafted Signature. It is a silky, smooth rum with a delicately balanced finish. The rich, molasses-based rum is handcrafter from Florida cane and twice distilled in a copper column pot still at 160-180 proof, and infused with Java’Mon Coffee Signature Kona Blend, vanilla, and an unexpected touch of coconut. RumJava is 100% all-natural, hand bottled and hand sealed. RumJava Signature can be enjoyed neat on the rocks or in a delicious RumJava cocktail. Our Doctor of Alcohol will of course be recommending some serious serves for you in this magazine. However, if you did want to do some more ‘research’, there is a whole host of cocktail recipes available on their website,

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Bernadette Pamplin

Bernadette loves rum. She set up a gin focused blog Under The Ginfluence eight years ago. Since then, her passion has naturally spread from gin, to rum and other spirits too. You can find work from her on Gin Magazine, Distiller Magazine, and Spirits Beacon, as well as content for  The Gin Guide.

She’s also the editor of Rum’s the Word, writing articles on rums featured in the box, as well as other rum related topics. Bernadette has built up six years experience in judging for events like Gin of the Year, World Gin Awards, Spirits Business Awards, Gin Guide Awards, IWSC and the American Distilling Institute Judging of Craft Spirits and works behind the scenes, assisting with organising and participating in panels for the Craft Distilling Expo.