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.
Valentine Coffee Roasters
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.
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 Kenyon 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.
Kickapoo Coffee Roasters
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.
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).