While most of the Old City sleeps, a coffee shop in its midst guides drowsy-eyed customers to consciousness.
With a simple yet satisfying menu, Old City Java delivers caffeine deliciously from the break of dawn until the sun has set again every day of the week.
Shaun Parrish, owner and main barista, discussed the business of the coffee shop.
"It's all or nothing here," Parrish said. "You'll get a second to catch a breath of fresh air and then 20 people walk in."
This sense of community has supported Old City Java since 1991. Shaun and Meg Parrish's dream turned into reality when the owner decided to sell the business.
"We love our sense of community down here," Meg Parrish, the business' pastry producer, said. "We get to know so many people, and it's wonderful."
For about three years, Gaby Horne has worked at Old City Java and has never stopped loving her job and the community of the coffee shop.
"It's about loving something, being geeky about it and doing it really well," Horne said. "We definitely have regulars. Every now and then they'll throw a curve ball."
Eric Lee visits Old City Java every day, and unless he's "feeling frisky," a black coffee with soy milk is his go-to. When Lee walks in the door, someone grabs soy milk from the fridge, and it sits on the counter waiting for him.
"I like Shaun and Meg," Lee said. "I want to give 'em my money."
Front doors lead guests through the main space to the counter where they notice a red espresso machine, a chalkboard menu and an iPad serving as the cash register. After ordering, customers can exit and sit in the alley courtyard or remain indoors. The initial space, with its green walls and circle window, provides a brighter setting. Move through to the larger room for darker, yet cozier tables. Art work hangs on all of the walls, and the alley even hosts graffiti.
Working people and students alike visit Old City Java for their morning Joe. Laptops in tow, many even do their work in the shop. Two large rooms and a courtyard provide plenty of space to accomplish daily tasks. Free Internet makes productivity even easier.
Mary Rogers sits in a nook of the larger room, under the Starry Night mural that is painted on the ceiling. As a post doctoral research assistant in UT's plant science department, she frequents Old City Java when in need of a quiet, comfortable place to complete research assignments.
"It's locally owned, and they make good coffee," Rogers said. "They're friendly and close to home."
Sitting at a church pew that extends the length of the main space, a local landscaping business owner worked to improve his branding. Daniel Aisenbrey enjoys a black coffee with his apple pop-tart, a signature pastry at Old City Java, which is topped with a maple glaze and pecans. Flaky and filled with locally sourced apple slices, the "popp-tart" always disappears first.
"I'm here mostly for the atmosphere," Aisenbrey said.
The ambiance he refers to understandably entices customers to return. While music typically provides background noise in coffee shops, Old City Java has opted out.
The whir of coffee beans grinding and keyboards clicking keep awkward silences at bay. Frequent greetings from the staff and casual conversations add to the murmur of the place, but never to the point of distraction.
Overall, Meg Parrish enjoys the community aspect of their coffee shop.
"We get to know everyone because they come in every day," she said. "It's awesome."