Free coffee all day: Why one man wants to pick up the tab at a Madison cafe

Free coffee Thursday at Cafe Domestique on Williamson Street.
Free coffee Thursday at Cafe Domestique on Williamson Street.(WMTV/Michelle Baik)
Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 4:32 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Madison coffee shop brewed a special treat for customers after one man offered to open up his wallet.

Cafe Domestique on Williamson Street served more than 300 drinks Thursday, owner Dan Coppola said. As he explained to customers, they were all paid for by “Joe from the Waypoint Public House.”

“This is a fun surprise,” Adriana Mateus, who calls herself a coffeeshop regular, said.

Other customers said the news of the day-long promotion had spread on social media and by word of mouth. “Whenever I’m on this side of town, I like to come in,” Fran Ellsworth said. “I did make a special trip for the free coffee today.”

Coppola said the treat was Joe’s idea: “Joe’s just a regular customer, and one day he was in here and said ‘I’d like to buy everybody a coffee.’ And I said, ‘OK, like everybody in the cafe now?’ He said, ‘No, like everybody that comes through for a whole day.”

Joe Devitt, co-owner of the Waypoint Public House in Monona, told NBC15 he is also a regular at Cafe Domestique.

“My mom owned a coffee shop, so coffee is a big part of my life,” he said.

Devitt explained, to him, free coffee is equal parts generosity and good marketing. “If someone buys their coffee, that’s pretty cool. So maybe then someone will come in here and buy a beer or something,” he said.

Soon to grab her free drink, Ellsworth said, “I have no idea who Joe is, but I’m excited to go to his fish fry at some point.”

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