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Young and Old Gather For Beans

August 22, 2002

Jamie's General Bean in Centreville Square II Shopping Center has fresh coffee bean concoctions made from beans roasted on the premises, but that is not why Yolanda, of Ashburn, drives into Centreville five days a week. "I like the Iced Mocha, but I drive here to see friends" says Yolanda.

She is not alone.

Jamie's General Bean has a full house on a Saturday nights, with a variety of patrons filling the small store and spilling outside.

Lane Miller, 18, of Chantilly says "I'm a little surprised to see some of the older guys here. Normally, you see kids at night in these kinds of places."

On this particular night, some of the customers play cards outside on a table with their backs to the band, and others lounge inside on the sofas and easy chairs provided.

A varied age group — ages 17 to 70 — listens to the live local music inside the store, as The Vector Trio plays a relaxing set of Jazz-oriented tunes.

OUTSIDE, AN equally sedate crowd lounges in the 80-degree heat of a summer evening, where the music isn't quite as loud and conversation is a little easier.

"Sometimes I come here for a decent cup of coffee, or I make the drive just to spend a little time out somewhere besides the bars," says Karen Koenig, 24, of Falls Church.

Although most of the crowd is under 21, a great many aren't. James Wilcox, 38, says he goes there often to "get a decent cup of fresh coffee", and "never felt out of place".

Local artists' original work is displayed and sold, with everything from wildlife photos in 6 x 12 frames, flora photos reminiscent of O'Keefe, watercolors, still life, and large oil paintings displayed. Customers may spend as much as $500 to take home an original work.

Jamie's offers coffee in a wide variety of flavors, with Daily Brew priced at $1, $1.25, and $1.50 for a large cup. Also on the menu are Cappuccino, Latte, Cafe Au Lait, and Cafe Breve, at $2.75 to $3.75. All the coffee is brewed from beans roasted on the premises.

The store also offers juices, teas, espresso, and specialty drinks such as Tanzania Pea berry, Macho and Mango Freezes and chai in vanilla, chocolate, and raspberry flavors.

Owner Jamie D. Olivos says the source of most of her inspiration for new drinks like the Mocha Freeze comes from her employees, who are high school and college students.

If a customer wants something to go with their drink, a number of fresh-baked pastries and delicacies are available.

Most of the customers know Olivos well. "If you come in once, I'll try and get your name, and if you come in a second time, I'll try to remember it" says Olivos, a slight woman who wears her blond hair short.

"My customers are my friends and my employees are like family. We try not to make people feel like numbers," she says.

Olivos says that she wouldn't have survived with the changes in Centreville without a welcoming atmosphere. She says the larger chains can't respond as well to customer needs at the local level because businesses like hers "don't have to go through a committee to change a drink".

OLIVOS ALSO PARTICIPATES in the community that she serves, making frequent appearances at events like the Manorgate swim team's meets, where she supplies food and drinks and donates all the labor and half of the profit.

Jamie's General Bean is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jamie's hosts live music on Fridays and Saturdays nights and open mic on other days of the week.

The store is located at 5967 Centreville Crest Lane in Centreville, and can be found on the Web at www.generalbean.com. Call (703) 815-8580.