INDIANAPOLIS — About three years ago, Justin Jones’ love of hospitality and coffee led him to open Georgia Street Grind in downtown Indianapolis.
Then, after finding success with what he calls his “proof of concept” at that location, he decided to turn his attention to bringing a new kind of coffee shop to the city: a neighborhood gathering place, inspired by classic Italian espresso bars.
He found the perfect spot in a historic building on the corner of Virginia and Woodlawn Avenues in Fountain Square.
“When I saw this space I just thought that it just spoke to me immediately,” said Bovaconti Coffee co-founder and general manager, Justin Jones.
“The room we’re in right now was the original structure on this site,” explained co-founder and general manager, Justin Jones. “It was built… estimated like 1850. Then, for about 60 years, it was a jewelry store. It was Bovaconti Jewelers.”
Not only has Jones paid homage to the historic building by naming the shop Bovaconti Coffee, but he’s also restored much of the interior— down to uncovering the original brickwork and recreating the exact shade of pink that originally adorned the walls.
He also brought in a local contractor who was experienced and passionate about restoring old buildings in the area.
“It’s a painstaking process,” Jones said. “There were a handful of people in here with wire brushes on individual bricks getting the plaster off.. to get it where it’s as close to what it would have looked like 170 years ago or so.”
“Using local people who have not just a passion for construction and renovation, but also a connection to the neighborhood…. That was important because I don’t think this place turns out the way it did without that kind of passion,” he added.
Outside, you’ll find one of Jones’ favorite elements of the whole place: a Bocce court.
“I’m a big Bocce fan and I wish I could have the full-length… [but] I maxed out the space I had but it’s still fun,” said Jones. “We’ve had a few people pick it up and be like, ‘Yeah, this is perfect!”
There’s also plenty of patio seating to make Bovaconti Coffee a “connecting spot” in the neighborhood.
“When I came to Fountain Square, I thought this is a really cool place….but it was lacking a meeting place,” Jones said. “I felt like this needs like this Italian street culture where people are kind of hanging out outside and it’s a place that’s drawing people in,” Jones said.
If there’s one thing that is sure to draw you in, it’s their coffee. Sourced from local Indy roasters (like Blue Mind Roasting and Limelight Roasters) and purpose-driven roasters like Utopian Roasters in Fort Wayne.
“One of their big missions is empowering the growers because that’s one of the biggest issues in the coffee business right now is the disconnect between this cup of coffee and the people who are actually growing and harvesting the coffee,” he explained.
From the first sip, customers notice Bovaconti isn’t the type of coffee shop that fills your cup with an overload of excessive flavors, sugars and extras.
Here, coffee is the star.
“We try not to cover up the coffee. Some places need to do that, [where] it’s more about the caffeine and the sugar and the flavor of that and everything that goes into it,” Jones pointed out. “For us, it’s ‘What if we bring out the flavor of the coffee?”
On their drink menu, you’ll find classics like the cappuccino and Americano. But then there are the fan favorites, like the Cafe Miele— made with honey and cinnamon… and their best-selling Spanish latte.
“It’s [made with] sweetened condensed milk and cinnamon. Just a little bit of it and it’s just enough to add this subtle sweetness and creaminess to the latte,” he noted. “But it really brings out the flavor of the espresso.”
If you’re looking for something seasonal, try one of their summer features like the Bella Latte– infused with pistachio and amaretto.
Then, there’s one of Jones’ personal favorites: the Cherry Blossom.
“It’s a Matcha with cherry in the coconut milk… so we make a coconut milk with cherry syrup and we put that on top of really nice Matcha,” he said. “Our matcha is unsweetened Japanese matcha… It’s just like a perfect combination.”’
Four Things You Need to Know About Bovaconti Coffee:
- Bovaconti Coffee (located at 1042 Virginia Avenue) opened in Fountain Square last year in a historic building dating back to 1980. Co-founder Justin Jones too great care in restoring many original features of the building and using design to pay homage to the history of the building (including incorporating geometric diamond patterns to hint at the building’s former purpose as the home of Bovaconti Jewelers (which called the space home for about 60 years).
- Jones considers himself a coffee curator, rather than a roaster, so he sources coffee from some of the community’s best local and purpose-driven roasters. “This amazing coffee roasting culture was thriving right around the time I was opening the shop… it’s some of the best coffee I’ve ever had in my life coming from right here in Indy,” he recalled.
- Over the last several weeks (due to COVID19 restrictions), Bovaconti has been exclusively offering outdoor seating only on their pet-friendly patio. But they say they are paying close attention to state and city directives as they work to transition to the “new normal”.
- They are also taking precautions with masking, using signage to direct customers to one door to enter and another to exit, as well as plenty of sanitizer available at the counter so their customers can safely come and get their favorite coffee.
For more information about Bovavonti Coffee, check out their website by clicking here. To see more photos and reviews by local Yelpers, check out their Yelp profile. You can also connect with them on social media via Facebook and Instagram.
While in Fountain Square, check out some of these other local hot-spots within walking distance of Bovaconti Coffee: