When Mark and Mary Schroeder met in high school, he was a junior at Flagstaff High School and she was a sophomore at Coconino. Thirty years later they’re married, have two kids and, as of this past spring, run their own business.
Java Juice Cafe opened April 1 and is the newest addition to the Flagstaff shopping plaza that also houses Bookmans and Sprouts.
The shop specializes in sweet vegan treats. Schroeder and his wife have chosen to avoid meat and dairy products for 20 years, he said, and everything they sell keeps to that standard including juices, smoothies, ice cream, crepes and coffee. Organic food and drink is prominent at Java.
“We had been looking to do something healthy like this, something that is vegan and designed to keep people on the healthier side of life,” Schroeder said.
The shop’s soft-serve ice cream is made with a coconut base instead of milk or cream, and whipped creams and coffee additives use almond or coconut milk. The juices are made using fresh ingredients and nearly everything is made in house, Mary Schroeder said. This includes vegan baked goods, ice cream cones, waffles and crepes.
“Plus, I think our boba tea is the best in Arizona,” Mark said.
In opening the business, the couple has made sure to test all the recipes they develop before they hit the mouths of customers. Even their kids, 13-year-old Eric and 11-year-old Jonathan, have helped to create and perfect several of the recipes, fine-tuning them to perfection.
“I give all the credit to my beautiful wife and kids,” Mark said.
Currently, apart from the Schroeder's children, Java Juice Cafe has six employees. Business has been good and steady according to the Schroeders.
“The positive feedback from customers is that they can enjoy and feel great about themselves. I think we're offering something that can bring joy to somebody,” Mark said.
The crepes are the most popular menu item, he said, especially with kids — both his own and those of customers. Second-most popular is the soft-serve, according to Mark.
The family is doing its best to make the menu affordable, something that can be a challenge for vegan restaurants, which often require a higher overhead than their meat and dairy alternatives.
“A lot of times you’ll go and get vegan things and it’ll cost you 25 to 30 dollars just for two desserts,” Mark said. “We’re slightly above other dessert places, but are trying to keep it affordable while providing the highest quality product we can. People have been grateful, happy and supportive overall.”
And, in homage to Peak Sweets and Popcorn, whose former space Java Juice Cafe is now leasing, the couple has kept the puffy, crunchy treat on the menu. There are 20 flavors of popcorn to choose from, and while most of the popcorn toppings are vegan, there are several that are not. Same goes for some of the boba tea flavors.
"We make sure to mark everything so people know what is and isn't vegan," Mark said.
Java Juice Café is located at 1530 S. Riordan Ranch St. The vegan dessert spot is open daily from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. during the summer.