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Stoughton coffee festival recognizes city's history of women in workforce

Stoughton coffee festival recognizes city's history of women in workforce
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Stoughton coffee festival recognizes city's history of women in workforce

STOUGHTON, Wis. - In 1880 in Stoughton, Norwegian housewives began working at The Gunderson Tobacco Warehouse while their husbands worked at the local wagon company. These women would take breaks during their work to cook dinner, check on their children and make a fresh pot of coffee.

Their coffee breaks increased in popularity and kept happening, especially once their manager approved the breaks.

The events and visitors manager for the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce Callie LaPoint, said the women's manager felt like the women worked better after the coffee break.

"[The women] came back refreshed, and the manager saw productivity increase," LaPoint said. "So from then, he started giving everyone a coffee break, and everyone had a happier and healthier time at work. So, Stoughton started the coffee break."

Now in 2019, more than 100 years after 1880, Stoughton is celebrating that history. 

The city hosts an annual Coffee Break Festival, which happened Saturday in Stoughton for its 22nd time. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., people were invited to taste coffee and vote on their favorite from seven different coffee vendors. 

All vendors were required to brew their coffee with the same kind of coffee pots and in the same way in order to give everyone a fair chance at winning. The only rule - no decaf. 

Anybody who sampled the coffee could vote on their favorite.

"The very first thing I do every morning is go down for a cup of coffee," coffee lover Rosemary Lehman said. "I love it. It starts my whole day off."

Coffee cup in hand, Lehman said Stoughton was the first community to issue a coffee break, so coffee is an important part of life in Stoughton.

For those who wanted to sample the coffee, coffee mugs were available for $8 each or $15 for a locally made mug. 

Coffee lovers won't be seeing a break in the festival anytime soon, as Stoughton plans to continue celebrating its caffeinated history. 

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