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Java Joe's owners Tim and Amy Brehm talk about how they became the local home for "Morning Joe."

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​When Tim and Amy Brehm purchased Java Joe’s Coffeehouse in December 2007, the pair wanted to kick off their ownership with a bang.

Sure, they had financial goals to hit and hoped to bring in new customers, but they wanted to do something unique, maybe a little eccentric; something that hadn’t been done at the Des Moines coffee joint before.

Ironically, opportunity came in a man named Joe.

As the stinging cold of the 2008 election year blew in media from all corners of the earth, “Morning Joe,” a fledgling cable talk show staring Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, couldn't get into the media center housing all the networks and newspapers. So the show took up residence at Java Joe’s instead.

By the time the camera’s red light turned off, the unlikely connection between show and shop had grown into a strong business relationship and, eventually, a deep friendship.

To this day, Scarborough and Brzezinski say the taping in 2008, marked by a series of surprises including an unexpected appearance by Tim Russert, crystallized their show. They came to Iowa looking for an audience and a way to secure their place in the world of political commentary.

Java Joe’s gave them both, Scarborough and Brzezinski said during a recent phone interview from New York.

For Java Joe’s, the filming bolstered its brand, Tim Brehm said, bringing people in from across the area who wanted to check out the shop after seeing it on TV. Ultimately, the taping played a large part in the store being able to expand its footprint around the metro, he added.

But more than that, the show made Java Joe’s one of the city’s hot spots for politics. Since filming at the shop in 2008, “Morning Joe” has returned every election cycle, and this year Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell will also use it as their Iowa base. Not to mention the countless local and national shows that are scheduled to stop by for live shots.

So when Scarborough and Brzezinski go live for their coverage of the 2016 caucus Monday, the hiss of Java Joe’s espresso machine and the warm browns and reds of the shop’s walls will play background to a special election edition of “Morning Joe.”

And the hosts wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Going to Java Joe’s is like going home,” Scarborough said.

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The show

Brzezinski is fairly sure there wasn’t a more “unlucky” way to start their coverage of presidential elections.

For weeks, Scarborough had been fighting with NBC management to get the green light to report from Iowa on caucus day in 2008, he said. And for weeks, NBC management said no.

“We had created this show out of thin air and when we heard there wasn’t a spot in Iowa, we were just like,...‘What?!’” Brzezinski remembered. “I believe, Joe, you had some choice words for” management.

Yes, Scarborough said he recalls those “words," and right around New Year’s Day the former congressman put his foot down: “I called them and said, ‘We’re flying out to Iowa, if you want a show for the next three days, you better send cameras,’” he said.

Still, there “wasn’t room” for the show at the media filing center, so they were tasked with finding another location — preferably indoors — to shoot the show. Enter: Java Joe’s.

On top of these tense and less-than-desirable circumstances, Brzezinski’s flight was canceled and her baggage lost at O’Hare, so she drove overnight to make it in time for the 3 a.m. curtain call. She was stressed, tired and honestly didn’t know what she was walking into, she said.

“As soon as the show started, it was like the music started,” she said. “It was like playing in a band, you’ve brought in all the stuff, you’re exhausted, all you want to do is go to bed, but then you get on stage and all of a sudden you can’t stop.”

“Morning Joe” has hosted more than 100 presidential candidate interviews this cycle, including one tense conversation with Donald Trump in which the titular host dramatically cut Trump off. But in 2008, the show was green; it need a moment to give it staying power.

Their moment came courtesy of Russert, longtime host of “Meet the Press” who passed away in June 2008.

As Scarborough remembers, Russert said he was sitting in the media filing center and he couldn’t take his eyes off the show that was filming at a local coffee shop.

He walked over and asked Scarborough and Brzezinski if he could join them on the air. Russert’s appearance at Java Joe’s endowed the show with an important relevance and gave credence that the hosts knew what they were doing.

“It made our show the place to be, like Tim Russert literally blessed the show and from then on it has felt like a steam train,” Brzezinski said. “During an election, I honestly can’t think of any other job I would want to have or any other place I would want to be.”

The shop

Tim Brehm wasn’t aware of any of the hoopla going on in New York, he said. For him, the entire ordeal happened quite quickly after he got a phone call just a few days before the 2008 caucus.

“A producer called and asked if we’d be interested in ‘Morning Joe’ filming here and we basically said whatever you need, we're here for you,” Brehm said. “About an hour later they called again and said they were on their way.”

Since the first taping, a few things have changed, Brehm said: The set is bigger, there are more cameras and the script isn’t being faxed in minute by minute.

But much hasn't changed, including, most importantly, the feeling of warmth and appreciation between the “Morning Joe” crew and Java Joe’s customers, many of whom have come back for every “Joe” taping.

“It was so exciting when we were at Java Joe’s a couple of weeks back, people were giving us these pictures of little kids who were about 8 years old and asking us to sign them and when we looked up, we were handing them back to the kids in the photo, but now they're in high school,” Scarborough said. “They had grown up and eight years later they were back at Java Joes.”

The "Morning Joe” set is like a breakfast table, Scarborough said, people are laughing and talking and connecting and, of course, drinking coffee.

For Brehm, that is what makes the relationship between “Morning Joe” and Java Joe’s so important.

“We own a coffee shop, so we are mindful of people coming together to share and talk,” he said.

Election cycles only highlight Brehm’s desire for the store to be a gathering place for people to exchange opinions and ideas.

“When I look at the wall of photos we have, there are Democrats and Republicans," Brehm said. "It’s so important to me that people from both parties find ways to come together, it’s the only way they’ll find common ground.

“And,” he added, “they’re always more than welcome to do that at Java Joe’s.”

IF YOU GO

Doors open at 4:00 a.m. for those interested in watching “Morning Joe” live from Java Joe's on Monday. The show airs from 5-8 a.m. on MSNBC. A special edition of "Morning Joe" will tape at the store from 2-4 p.m. Monday afternoon.

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