In the 608: Java Cat takes unique approach for coffee shop

MADISON, Wis. – There’s a unique coffee shop that’s had to adapt to many changes over the last year.

Java Cat is located off of Monona Drive and Cottage Grove Road. It isn’t your typical coffee shop, and you’ll see that right away when you step through the doors.

Owner Renee Raspiller can’t help but get a little choked up about how thankful she is after the last year.

“We live in the best neighborhood, in the best city, and my customers are amazing,” Raspiller said. “I’ve got some really special people who are really looking out for us.”

Her business has been running drive-thru-only since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Wisconsin. The coffee shop now sits empty of customers, but the line of cars going out to the road is a regular thing these days.

Her story, though, doesn’t begin here.

“I always wanted to have a place that felt like Cheers, you know, where we knew your names, and we knew about your life. We’re not just here to make money,” she said.

The Madison native and her partner opened the business fifteen years ago, and because the area was already saturated with coffee shops at the time, she knew they had to be different.

They went with a feline theme based off of a poster you’ll find inside Java Cat today. They wanted the space to feel like home.

“I wanted to have a place that was comfortable for everybody, whether you are a professional, a grandma or a young mother, I just wanted a place that was community,” Raspiller explained.

She can’t wait for the day she can turn her lobby back from storage to open seating again, but for now, she remains grateful to those keeping local businesses in the 608 so great.

“One of the advantages of going through this whole COVID thing is the longevity we’ve had, and we have a pretty dedicated customer base that’s really helped a lot,” she concluded.

Java Cat’s drive-thru is open every day from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.