CALEDONIA — Melissa Rice, a full-time accountant by day, fueled her dream of owning a coffee shop that prides itself on delivering more than just a cup of coffee. She provides a place of connection and community.
Racine County is now home to Java Dreams, a quaint-but-modern coffee shop, cafe, small bakery, and spot to shop for local goods. Since March of 2022, owner Melissa Rice has been transforming what was once a dream into a reality in Caledonia.
“We are locally owned and more than just coffee,” she said.
Java Dreams has put its mark on the map, in Racine County, after the owner made a cross-country move from Wyoming. Rice’s accounting career brought also played a part in bringing her to the Midwest.
What is new to the area was an established business out west. Rice’s roots are in Racine and her dreams are taking off in Southeastern Wisconsin.
The shop is conveniently located off Interstate 94 at 13600 7 Mile Road, Unit B, in Caledonia. You can choose to grab a bite to eat and fuel yourself in the cafe or grab fuel for your vehicle at the Mobil gas station next door. Customers don’t expect such a nice cafe to be attached to a gas station.
“It’s always a surprise to people when they walk in the door for the first time,” Rice said.
Java Dreams is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Jack of all trades
In addition, Java Dreams sells candles, home decor, and Minky blankets. The owner describes these custom-ordered blankets as being super soft. They feel like fox fur.
Even though Java Dreams operated on a smaller scale in Wyoming, Rice credits her time back home for the skills that she’s learned.
“In the mountains in Wyoming, there was nothing to do but to cook, sew, and garden,” said Rice.
Her life back home gave her the foundation of her business. She knows how to bake, learned how to operate a shop and then brought it to Caledonia. However, this time around, she has the ability to offer a food menu and even small catering services. Catering can be done for funerals and work functions. Custom orders may be placed by contacting Rice.
Her customers have coined her a jack of all trades.
Focused on community
Recently, Java Dreams was able to provide catering services to a senior facility in the area. The coordinator said the seniors love the food.
“They (the seniors) never want to leave the senior center,” Rice said.
However, the cafe is the exception. They want to visit Java Dreams.
Another memorable moment at the start of her career has been making a difference in the life of a local who has cancer.
“He says that this is his happy place,” Rice said.
Ron and his wife come to the shop often. In the midst of the fight for his life, he enjoys spending time eating cookies and being with his wife.
Their presence as regular customers and time spent at the cafe has made an impact on Java Dreams. Rice is going to name the frosted sugar cookies after him. On the menu, you will find Ron’s Cookies.
There may come a day when he is no longer regularly visiting Java Dreams. He, however, will always have an impression on the spot.
“I said that way you’ll always be here every day,” Rice said.
Plans are being arranged for Java Dreams to cater Ron’s celebration of life once the time comes. Until then, she will continue to enjoy his company and the patrons that visit her spot.
Rice has the support of her son and daughter who help manage the new business. In addition, she hired three additional helping hands whom she considers just like family. Likewise, she extends that same respect to her clients.
On the menu, you’ll find recipes that the owner has curated herself, but also she offers a piece of her heritage to the community with family recipes as well. Stop by to try recipes like “Butt Nuts,” donuts made from mashed potatoes that come from her Great Aunt Vi.
Other fan favorites are Rice’s famous carrot cake and her mom, Valerie’s pie crust.
Whatever you order and whenever you stop by, Rice will be there with open arms.
When you visit Java dreams, Rice wants customers to feel “relaxed and like they just came home.”
“I have an electric fireplace and four leather chairs up front,” says the entrepreneur. “I also have 10-15 games for all ages to sit, play, and stay awhile.”
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