Martin and Natalie Gaida recently changed the name of their coffee shop to Tokava Coffee from its previous namesake 7 Pond Coffee Bar. Of course they're still located at 7 Pond Street.
Martin recently answered questions about why they changed the name of the business, The Coffee Trike, seasonal beverages, and more.
Q: You purchased the business a few months before COVID. What was it like those few months before COVID, and what has it been like since? How have you altered your business due to COVID?
Gaida: When we took over the 7 Pond Coffee Bar in 2019 we were no strangers to the coffee industry. Prior to that we had been running The Coffee Trike (a mobile espresso bar catering corporate events and weddings) in the Boston area since 2016. This made the transition easy...During the months leading up to the outbreak we hired new staff, switched to Onyx Coffee Lab (an award winning coffee roaster based in Rogers, AR), expanded the menu to include something for everyone and introduced modern payment options with no minimums.
When the pandemic hit no one knew what was going to happen and everyone was expecting the worst. We did what we thought was best for our team and our customers and immediately pivoted to an online store with curbside pickup determined to keep our community caffeinated as long as we could. As many other businesses, through this extreme experience, we found out what works, what doesn’t, what can be done better and what’s possible. Now that we can see the light in the end of the tunnel, I think it’s safe to say we will come out better and stronger as people but also as a business.
Last year was no doubt challenging for us but it helped us realize how fortunate we are to be part of such a supportive, close knit community and our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who isn’t as fortunate.
Q: Why did you change the name of the business from 7 Pond Coffee Bar to Tokava?
Gaida: The name Tokava doesn’t have a literal meaning but if you happen to speak any of the Slavic languages, which is where our roots are, you’ll know that it means something along the lines of “that’s coffee." When a customer takes a first sip this is what we want them to think, “Now that's coffee!” Besides that, it’s one of a kind word for one of a kind coffee shop.
Q: What are the most popular drinks and food?
Gaida: From our current seasonal offerings it’s hands down the Spring Latte. In-house lavender-chamomile syrup, espresso and High Lawn farm milk topped with local bee pollen, steamed or iced. Another one of our all time best sellers is the New Orleans Latte. A silky smooth latte with our in-house chicory root syrup. It turned out to be such a popular drink that it earned a permanent spot in our menu all year round. All credit goes to my amazing wife Natalie. She’s the driving force behind all of our creative drinks and there would be no Tokava without her. She’s my Wonder Woman. Same goes for the food. Our most popular item are Natalie’s marshmallows. Once you try them marshmallows you will never be the same!
Q: What is your favorite drink?
Gaida: Whenever Natalie and I go to another coffee shop I get a single origin espresso and a filter coffee, and she gets a seasonal drink. It’s a thing now.
Q: How do you determine your seasonal beverages?
Gaida: We think of all the different herbs, spices and fruits that are in season and taste if it works! There have been some curdled, gone-wrong ideas and failed experiments but for the most part we tend to come up with at least a few flavor combinations that work either with milk, seltzer or tonic; and if it doesn’t work with espresso it might work with chocolate or matcha! We try to make sure there are always options for everyone, whether you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, prefer decaf or tea.
Q: What is The Coffee Trike?
Gaida: The Coffee Trike is a mobile espresso bar on three wheels established in 2012. It was originally a street vending operation serving customers on Greenway until it hit a hard spell in the 2015-2016 season. That’s when we bought it and over the years turned it into a catering service for every occasion from corporate events to private functions, weddings and movie sets. This side of our business has been impacted most severely by the pandemic and made us all the more grateful to have a coffee shop here in JP.
Q: What else would you like to tell people about yourself and Tokava?
Gaida: We are really happy to be part of the JP community. It’s been incredibly refreshing to be able to have fun conversations with our customers again now that restriction are being lifted and we think the future is bright! We recently started cold brew delivery service in the area. We are working on our own coffee blend with a local roaster and in the near future we would like to start roasting our own, responsibly sourced coffee here in JP!
All photos courtesy Tokava Coffee