Karon Nelson is living a dream. A 33-year resident of Sparks, she is a combination cheerleader of the city, a mother of five, a wife of 22 years and an energetic soul who climbs out of bed every morning at 4 o’clock so that she can open the doors six days a week at the Java Bean.
Situated at 295 Sparks Blvd., the Java Bean is a tiny 10-by-10 building that is the site of freshly brewed coffee, homemade foods and an energy level so significant that Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts invaded the neighborhood in what is undoubtedly the ultimate compliment for Nelson and the Java Bean.
Opened in 2011, The Java Bean came into the lives of Mike and Karon Nelson after the couple sold a rock-solid trucking business that was active in four states while also employing 200. With 85 trucks burning the midnight oil and registering thousands of miles with 10 outlets in Nevada, California and Arizona, the pace was non-stop and the stress was mind-boggling, especially considering that the profit margin was about 3 percent.
As the economy was still building steam in 2006, the Nelsons sold the business to a Canadian corporation, put the money in the bank and started to rethink their lives and figure out what to do next.
After taking time to catch their breath, Mike Nelson, a talented poker player, went to work running the poker room at the Peppermill, and his wife discovered a tiny building in Sparks that housed a drive-through coffee business.
“I called Mike and asked him to go by and check it out,” said Karon Nelson, who discovered the business was for sale on Craigslist.
Not long after cruising past The Java Bean, Mike Nelson called his wife to tell her he was impressed with the setup.
The parents of children ages 18-29, the couple purchased The Java Bean, and Karon Nelson infused an energy level that includes an infectious smile mixed with a sincere concern for others and a tip jar that is used to provide coffee for the military and public servants, including policemen and firefighters.
There may not be a manual on how to grow a business, but the Java Bean is an element of happiness in Sparks that has lowered the blood pressure of the Nelsons while undoubtedly adding years to their lives following the high-stress years of running a trucking business.
When the alarm goes off at 4 in the morning, Karon Nelson eagerly bounces out of bed so that she can get the coffee brewing for the early birds of Sparks. Even with the added competition in the neighborhood, The Java Bean hasn’t slowed a bit, and in fact, the numbers continue to improve every day.
“We have been in Sparks for 33 years,” Karon says, “and I cannot imagine living anywhere else. When I get out of bed, I cannot wait to get to The Java Bean. It’s my passion.”
After riding the roller coaster of the trucking business for so many years, this is the break of a lifetime. A Facebook page for The Java Bean is jam-packed with positive energy accentuated by smiling faces combined with coffee and breakfast foods like English muffins and hot scones.
“I really enjoy making people happy,” Karon adds of Sparks and The Java Bean. “This is a much simpler way to make a living. I make about a third of what I did before. I am living the simple life, and I wouldn’t change a thing now.
“I love this place. I call it my little empire.”