Aurora resident Mike Morkert, 63, was working at Java Plus, which is located at the Sugar Grove Public Library, when he answered 10 questions from the Kane County Chronicle’s Al Lagattolla.
Where did you grow up? Rapid City, S.D.
Do you have any pets? A pet cat, Oreo. We have had Oreo for about nine years.
Who would play you in the movie of life? Jim Carrey
What was your first job in the coffee business? It was a mobile coffee shop. I was a teacher for 40 years. About eight years ago, I knew I needed to do something when I retire. My wife and I started a mobile coffee business. We got ourselves a concession trailer, a 1983 ambulance that says “Java Plus” on it, and we set out going to different venues – from the Corn Boil in Sugar Grove to the flea market in St. Charles.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Professional baseball player and a pastor. I became a teacher. I went to a Lutheran college in Nebraska, and I had training for both pastor and teacher. I’ve always looked up to pastors, and you always needed to be holy. But I became a teacher.
Did you ever think of becoming a pastor? All the time. This store allows me that ability. It’s an awesome place. As a coffee shop owner, you are kind of like a bartender. You ask people how they are, and they’ll tell you.
Is there a book you would recommend? Anything by Max Lucado. I think I have all of his books, and they all really hit home.
What is the best part of the job? I have developed some awesome relationships with people. They get to know you. And I think it’s because of my teaching background, the kids come in and want to see Mr. Mike. I love that.
What is your favorite thing on the menu? The 20-degree-below-zero frozen hot chocolate. It probably still is the No. 1 seller, even on ice cold days. I’ll sell seven or eight of those. It tastes like hot chocolate, but it’s cold and blended. It’s kind of our signature drink.
What is an interesting factoid about yourself? I spent some time in Russia in 1994. I did some mission work. At that particular time, if you went over to Russia, you weren’t necessarily assured that you would ever get out. It’s probably a little bit better right now, but I think that probably there is 2 percent of the country’s wealth for a small group of people, and 98 percent are still pretty poor.