Coffee, sandwiches stand out at Johnson Public House

The coffee and espresso at this quaint café is some of the best in town
Coffee, sandwiches stand out at Johnson Public House
Photos by Nicole Peaslee.

By Michelle Li

You may assume Johnson Public House’s name comes from its location. But the fact that the coffeehouse found a home on East Johnson Street was merely a coincidence. When Kyle and Gwen Johnson found the space nearly three years ago, it was a sign to buy.

“That tipped the scales,” says Gwen. “It felt like fate.”

Fate may have helped the couple find the right spot, but their obsession over coffee started in Gwen’s childhood house.

“As soon as I was able to taste my dad’s coffee, I was on it,” she says. “I just love the ritual behind coffee.”

Gwen’s early passions even kickstarted Kyle’s interest. He didn’t drink coffee until he met her. Later, they found themselves fueling their java love with concepts like brew-to-order coffee, now the main focus at Johnson Public House.

That means every cup is uniquely brewed. Coffee is timed, weighed and made manually. “Coffee changes throughout the day with humidity and temperature change,” says Kyle. “So we can change with the coffee.”

Other bright spots include intricate latte art. Homemade cashew maple granola is a must. The breakfast sandwiches are obsession-worthy, made with local meats or breads and dressed with sauces like Sriracha aioli or pesto.

Aside from that, JPH is exactly what it stands for—a public house.

“We’re just basically a good neighbor to everybody,” says Gwen. “If they need a spare key for their apartment, they’ll leave one here. If they’re locked out, they come and hang here all day. We’re just a really good community member.”

Johnson Public House
908 E. Johnson St.

Read more Madison Magazine stories about local restaurants here