The origin of Daisson Hickel’s business had an unconventional beginning far from his home in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.
It was 2014 in the mountains of southern Afghanistan that the vision for his portable coffee kit came to be, and The Java Can was born.
Spending time in the mountains, away from base, allowed him to escape the pressures of his role as a Green Beret for the U.S. Military Special Operations. In those mountains, Hickel enjoyed the morning sunrise with a cup of coffee. Eventually, Hickel started bringing his teammates up that mountain to share in the same holy experience. “I don’t know why but it was church to me,” Hickel said. “That place was sacred, I was able to clear my head and deal with things that I had to deal with.”
The Java Can is the first of its kind, a field espresso kit housed in a military ammunition can. Each kit contains a 4-cup moka pot, ceramic bean grinder, camping stove, and a milk frother.
With no experience in starting a business, Hickel relied on his passion to learn as he went along. He knew that he wanted his business to have the same values he shared on that mountain in Afghanistan: community, good coffee and the outdoors. “I was able to replicate my experience on that mountain in Afghanistan and create something that brought me the same feelings,” Hickel said.
But you don’t have to be on a mountain in Afghanistan to use this product. The durable, hard exterior makes it great for camping and other outdoor activities.
Hickel hopes that The Java Can goes beyond just coffee kits, but a lifestyle embodying community, adventure and coffee. His passion for not just selling a product but telling the stories of those who are a part of the coffee community.
To find those stories, Hickel has gone around the world meeting coffee bean producers and hearing their stories. “Many people will go to their local café and not understand the amount of work that went into producing that cup of coffee,” Hickel said.
With one more deployment before he retires from the military, Hickel plans to make The Java Can his full-time endeavor. “I’m going to continue my quest to tell stories and travel around the world to see what makes coffee what it is, but from the perspective of the people that can’t tell their stories themselves,” Hickel said.
SARAH O’BEIRNE is a summer intern with 30A. She is majoring in journalism at the University of Illinois and has vacationed here for many years.