Foodie: Josie Hunckler Of Rabble Coffee

A woman holds a coffee mug while sitting on a couch.
Rabble Coffee’s Josie Hunckler

Photography by Tony Valainis

Josie Hunckler started hanging out in coffee shops when she was 13 years old and never left. A West Lafayette kid with no room in the family budget for vacations, Hunckler traveled the world through the conversations she overheard between Purdue foreign-exchange students and teachers at a coffeehouse near caompus. “I got really interested in community spaces where there are lots of people from different backgrounds,” says Hunckler.

By age 17 she was living on her own and working her way through Indiana University as a barista, dreaming of ways she could open her own coffee shop. Hunckler figured she’d be in her 40s before it happened. Then she launched Rabble Coffee on the east side in 2015, two decades ahead of schedule.

Today, Rabble is a hub of artistic energy and community service, busy with customers from all walks of life. In keeping with her commitment to serve people on both ends of the economic spectrum, Hunckler launched a pay-it-forward program where customers can buy a $2 wooden nickel that goes in a cup near the register, and anyone who can’t afford a coffee can discreetly pay with one of the wooden coins, no questions asked. She was also one of the first businesses in the city to offer Naloxone, an opioid overdose-reversal drug, free to the public, a literally life-saving move in a neighborhood struggling with the epidemic. “I would prefer people ask for it, take it with them, and put the power in their hands,” she says. “I wish every proprietor had it.”