Jaho Roastery and Bakery provides a trendy and eclectic eating experience


Madeleine Ritterbusch

Sarah Davidson and Johnna Maloney take a selfie to document their trip to Jaho.

Situated just a few minutes from Salem State University, Jaho is the perfect cafe for college students. The atmosphere is on par with the popular cafes popping up in Los Angeles and New York City. The decor provides an ideal backdrop for social media posts and the not-so-subtle signs with their Instagram handle ensures that you won’t forget to tag them. At first, the overwhelming trendiness of the decor stirs up the fear of overcompensation for mediocre food and overpriced drinks. But this fear proved to be somewhat unfounded after all.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Jaho is the variety in the menu. There’s something for everyone. From artisanal coffee to tea lattes and hot chocolates, to boba tea, the drink selection is quite impressive. Maybe not as impressive, however, as the food menu. There are salads, sandwiches, chips, doughnuts, pastries, and even ice cream.

A neon sign reads "live slow" and skylights let in lots of natural light.
Live slow. At Jaho, the natural accents the industrial for a modern and open atmosphere. (Madeleine Ritterbusch)

The extensive menu can be viewed in full on the digital ordering kiosks. The touchscreen interface keeps track of your order and the running total cost. When selecting an item there are several stages of customizations you may choose from. This is especially important for the coffees, which are supposed to be specially made just the way you like. I find this system of ordering to be a good way to ensure everything is made to my taste. I don’t have to rely on a server understanding and remembering the details of my order, and I have the opportunity to check my order before I make my final payment.

That being said, the ordering kiosks do allow for more stubborn promotion of Jaho’s rewards program. And as with all technologically reliant systems, a glitch can interfere with customer flow. One of the kiosks during my visit was experiencing difficulties and was not servicing customers. This meant a longer wait for me to place my order. Once I did get to order, though, I found the system very effective and user-friendly.

Once my order was placed, I could look for a place to sit. This gave me the opportunity to take in the furniture and how it contributed to the atmosphere. There were wooden tables of varying sizes with different styles of chairs and benches. One bench was crafted so that a potted plant could be set in the bench itself. This intermingling of nature and lounging room felt like just the right balance. At my table, one side was occupied by a booth and one side was lined with wooden chairs.

The lighting fixtures and neon signs adorning the walls and ceiling of Jaho are super trendy.
The lighting fixtures and neon signs adorning the walls and ceiling of Jaho are super trendy. (Madeleine Ritterbusch)

The wooden furniture provides a warm feel and the accenting of potted plants and “live walls” has a grounding effect. The neon signs and industrial looking exposed mechanics of the roastery serve to modernize it. The harmony of these elements is what gives Jaho such a successful atmosphere that follows the trends in popular culture.

When my order was ready, I heard a barista call out my name and walked up to the counter with trepidation. There was my drink in a cute, recyclable cup with a color scheme to match that of the cafe. However, at the counter, I was informed they were out of the apple cider donuts I had ordered, so I settled for a honey-glazed donut.

I must admit, I’ve had better donuts. There was nothing special about this one and the honey glaze seemed to seep into the donut and make it a little soggy. That, coupled with my disappointment over settling for a second choice meant there was a lot riding on the vanilla chai latte.

I’m pleased to report the latte did make up for the mediocrity of the food. Perfect for the chilly November day, the hot drink was just what I needed to feel warm and cozy.

So now it’s time to answer an important question. Is Jaho more worth it than Starbucks?

I’d say yes.

Although prices are about the same at Jaho and Starbucks, which is to say on the pricier side of cafe dining, I felt more intrigued by the menu’s variety at Jaho than I ever have at Starbucks and the atmosphere was more my speed.

Next time you find yourself in Salem, you should definitely check out Jaho Roastery and Bakery.