The Hottest Indie Coffee Shops in Milwaukee

With snowflakes tumbling to the ground and record wind chills potentially putting a pause on outdoor fun, there’s no better place to spend a wintry day than indoors with a cup of coffee. Apologies to the chains, but there are plenty of local, indie coffee shops with a unique spin that translates to the décor and the drinks menu. Also of note are Colectivo Coffee Roasters and Stone Creek Coffee, which each have a handful of cafes spanning Milwaukee metro and its suburbs.

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Valentine Coffee Roasters

Valentine Coffee Roasters

Courtesy of Valentine Coffee Roasters 

5918 W Vliet St, Milwaukee, WI 53208, USA
Phone +1 414-988-8018

Walking into this Washington Heights café—open since 2013 on Vliet Street next to the Times Cinema, after a few years of roasting for clients including the Bartolotta Restaurant Group and selling at the Wauwatosa Farmers Market—is akin to experiencing a lab. Dubbed a “tasting room,” you get to see the baristas craft your cup of coffee via an open-kitchen concept where the brew bar is front and center. A cup of coffee brewed at 209 degrees Fahrenheit using the pour-over method results in a cleaner cup that doesn’t mask a coffee’s characteristics (yes, you might really taste the blueberries and cocoa that pro coffee tasters hint at). If you really like what you drink, peruse the shelves and walk out with your own manual coffee brewer.

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Anodyne Coffee

Bag of coffee available for purchase

Courtesy of Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. 

7471 Harwood Ave, Wauwatosa, WI 53213-2626, USA
Phone +1 414-930-0469

With two locations (Walker’s Point and Bay View), the experience at each Anodyne is completely different but for one common denominator: the organic coffee. Roasted daily in small batches at the Walker’s Point location, which is inside a former warehouse (think brick walls and hardwood floors) and bursting with sunlight—and, on weekends, live music—the variety ranges from a brightly acidic Kenyan Ichuga AB to a lighter-bodied Guatemalan San Pedro La Laguna. Then, at the Bay View location, as of 2015, cracker-thin pizzas (with unique toppings like beets, goat cheese, soppressata, and salumi) are cooked in a wood-burning oven imported from Italy, providing the perfect pairing with your cappuccino. Note: there is also an Anodyne inside the Milwaukee Public Market.

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Kickapoo Coffee Roasters

Large, airy cafe with an industrial ceiling, a long bar and long wooden tables

Courtesy of Kickapoo Coffee Roasters 

232 E Erie St, Milwaukee, WI 53202-6004, USA
Phone +1 414-914-9497

Open since late 2015, and in the Third Ward neighborhood, this is the Wisconsin roaster’s first café. For a cozy feel, the furnishings were built by the Amish and signage commissioned by a Minneapolis craftsman. A cup of coffee is culled from eight single-origin coffees on a rotation, plus fun blends like “Icebreaker” and “Driftless”, all roasted in a solar-powered roastery in Viroqua, which is tucked into the Driftless Region on the west side of the state.

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Hi-Fi Cafe

Hi-Fi Cafe in Milwaukee

Courtesy of Hi-Fi Cafe

2640 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207-2151, USA
Phone +1 414-486-0504

Snug along the main drag in Bay View—along Kinnickinnic, or KK Avenue—this hipster café was a pioneer in the ‘hood’s development when it opened in 1996. Marked by mismatched, Midcentury furnishings, it’s possible to get a full breakfast here, too, like a diner-style stack of blueberry pancakes or (served until noon on weekdays, 1 p.m. on weekends) or eggs benedict. The coffee is always bold and strong, and espresso drinks are inventive, like the Butter Cup (espresso, steamed milk, chocolate syrup and peanut butter).

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The Hottest Indie Coffee Shops in Milwaukee