Love of coffee fuels Java Hut's operators
Longtime owner retires, business sold to fellow coffee aficionado

By Alex Nemec

July 11, 2019

 Former Java Hut owners Jeff Hansen and Colleen Hansen stand with their granddaughter and employee Grayce Hansen. Colleen sold the business and plans on retiring.
Alex Nemec/Enterprise Staff

OCONOMOWOC — After 10 years of ownership, Colleen Hansen has decided to sell her pride and joy, Java Hut, 526 E. Wisconsin Ave., to a new owner who plans to keep the coffee shop under the same name.

Hartland native Sandy Pagel took over the Java Hut earlier this week.

Hansen said running Java Hut has been great and she has loved operating her shop.

“My dream was to actually serve others through my food and share my love with them,” Hansen said. “That’s what I did here.”

Java Hut was sold to Hansen in 2009 after it had went out of business after 15 years and several different owners, Hansen said.

“I was initially only going to do it for five years, but I’ve loved it,” she said.

 Since Hansen bought the business she has been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, more commonly known as AFib.

“I was diagnosed five years ago from overworking and stress,” Hansen said. “It’s taken me to a point where I have to sit down a lot.”

When Hansen was diagnosed, her friends and family rallied around her, she said.

“I was really close to just closing it for my health,” Hansen said. “I was in the hospital for five days. My friends and my family were really here for me because I couldn’t be here.”

Coffee shops may involve a lot of work with a person’s hands, but Hansen said working at one has to be from the heart.

“Your hands are part of it, but you have to do it with your heart and your soul,” Hansen said. “That’s why I think they are such a great thing for communities.”

Hansen said she sacrificed a lot of things to run Java Hut, but would do it all over again in an instant.

“Maybe I wouldn’t do the full 10 like I did, maybe five like I had planned but I just couldn’t leave,” Hansen said. “I loved it so much.”

Hansen said she wants her customers to know how much she appreciates their support.

“I’m trying to make sure they know that,” she said. “They’ve been included in this sale. It’s been a priceless experience for me to see them care that much about this place.”

Coming to the Java Hut was part of the customers’ daily routine too, Hansen said.

“They want to know what is happening next,” Hansen said. “I want them to embrace Sandy they same way they have embraced me and give her a chance.”

 Sandy Pagel stands behind the counter at Java Hut. Pagel bought the business
and took it over earlier this week.

Alex Nemec/Enterprise Staff

New owner, same name

The new owner of Java Hut isn’t new to the coffee game, having been in the industry for 23 years, she said. Pagel said she worked at Gloria Jean’s, Starbucks and Dunn Brothers in Pewaukee.

“Coffee is just something that’s engrained in me,” Pagel said.

When Dunn Brothers closed, Pagel found herself at the Starbucks inside of a Meijer and would run into customers asking her what her next venture is, she said.

Pagel said when she found out Java Hut was for sale, she thought it was time for her to own her own business.

The customers are what keeps Pagel coming back to the bean industry, she said.

“I think (a coffee shop is) just the kind of environment I enjoy being in,” Pagel said. “It’s creating those one-on-one relationships with people. I know when people have babies or are sick and it’s like taking those steps of their lives with them.”

Product offerings will be changed a little bit and the interior decor may change some, Pagel said.

But, Pagel said she plans on keeping the Java Hut name because it is an Oconomowoc icon. As for the coffee offerings, Pagel said she might keep the current supplier Colectivo while she saves money to purchase her own roaster to create her own coffee — which she has 12 years of experience doing.

“That is a goal of mine to start my own line of coffee so I won’t be using Colectivo or any of the surrounding roasters and it will be specific to this store,” Pagel said. “That is a long-term goal, but hopefully not too long.”