There's no reason any Milwaukeean should have to frequent those big-name coffee chains if they want to stay local. Our city proudly boasts tons of great local coffee shops -- most of which even roast their own coffee. So the next time you need that java fix, skip the drive-thru and take a load off at one of these cafes.
Town of Lake
Primarily a local supplier of espresso and single-blend coffees to businesses, Hawthorne opened up a cafe in a neighborhood that sorely needed one. With its open space and shabby chic furniture and decor, it quickly became a gathering point for local residents. Pour-over coffee is the centerpiece, inviting guests to linger and enjoy themselves. Bonus: the space is shared with Iron Grate BBQ, so you can get your coffee in the morning, then stay for smoked brisket at lunch.
Bay View (& other locations)
Coffee and pizza and wine... it's basically all our favorite things. The Bay View outpost of this coffee roaster has a huge Italian wood-firing pizza oven that churns out some primo pies, and a liquor license to boot. Coffee will always be Anodyne's first love, though, and they roast their beans in small batches at their Walker's Point location.
Both of the founders of Valentine Coffee Roasters have roots in wine, so it's no surprise that they call the small cafe attached to their roastery "the tasting room," like at a vineyard. They analyze their beans and roasts just like sommeliers scrutinize wine, too, looking for just the right blend. Classic Italian coffee drinks like the macchiato are available, but try a simple pour-over to really taste the differences in their blends.
Brady St (& West Milwaukee)
Possibly the most underrated coffee shop in the city, Dryhootch is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping veterans return to civilian life smoothly. Veterans run the cafes, which serve as alcohol-free gathering points for support, employment, outreach, and anything else veterans may need. You'll find civilians and veterans of all walks of life here, connecting through their common bonds of service to our country and service to our veterans. If there's any better goal for a coffee shop, I don't know it. Plus, the lovely little courtyard patio is about as bucolic a getaway as you can get on Brady St.
Lakefront (& other locations)
The undisputed champion of coffee shops in MKE, Colectivo came on the scene in the '90s when every cafe wanted to be Central Perk. It's had a name change since then -- some still call it Alterra -- but their brand recognition is still off the charts. Each location takes on the unique vibe of its neighborhood, though they all have those colorful chairs. The lakefront location is massive and serves as one of the cheapest places you can enjoy the lake view from a patio.
Rochambo is what would happen if you asked a hippie to design a new-age, French-inspired arthouse cafe. It fits in perfectly on Brady St, where art and self-expression rule. They serve Valentine coffee here, with their own custom blend. There's also teas, juices, and paleo snacks if you're into the caveman thing, but the kicker is the booze. The Irish coffee is legendary, but you can get coffee and liquor combos of all sorts. Now that's a great way to start the day.
Brewed Cafe is like the big brother of nearby Rochambo. It's got a slightly more refined, quasi-Parisian vibe and a full menu of breakfast, soups, salads, and sandwiches. There are lots of vegetarian and vegan options, so you can munch on a tofu scrambler while you sip your cafe latte. And they serve up Anodyne coffee here, so you know you're getting a great cup of joe.
Coffee isn't just for breakfast: when you need that pick-me-up in the middle of the day, stop by Urban Joe Cafe for lunch. It feels like a perfect cross between restaurant and coffee shop, with slate on the walls and uniform seating options. Iced coffee drinks are popular, probably because they go well with the large fresh salads. When the weather is nice, they create a little sidewalk patio right in Downtown 'Stallis.
Shorewood (& other locations)
This is one local chain that many people don't realize is local. They started here in Milwaukee (and only have locations in the area) but their brand is so sleek and put together, it kind of feels like a big chain... which makes it the perfect spot if you're feeling guilty because you want to support local, but can't kick your Starbucks habit. They also offer factory tours where they roast their beans, as well as espresso and home-brewing classes for the budding barista.
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1. Hawthorne Coffee Roasters4177 S Howell Ave, Milwaukee
2. Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co2920 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Bay View (& other locations)
3. Valentine Coffee Roasters5918 W Vliet St, Milwaukee
4. Dryhootch1030 E Brady St, Milwaukee
5. Colectivo Lakefront1701 N Lincoln Memorial Dr, Milwaukee
6. Rochambo Coffee & Tea House1317 E Brady St, Milwaukee
7. Brewed Cafe1208 E Brady St, Milwaukee
8. Urban Joe7028 W Greenfield Ave, West Allis
9. Stone Creek Coffee275 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee
Run by Town of Lake locals Kendra and Steve, Hawthorne Coffee Roasters Cafe is a homey away from home that'll satisfy all your caffeine needs. The menu focuses on pour over and espresso drinks and also features light cafe fare (muffins, cookies), plus fresh baked Holey Moley doughnuts on Fridays. Stay tuned for smoked BBQ on the lawn in the summer times.
Born in 1999, Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. is a cool, rustic and spacious coffee shop that also serves wood-fired oven pizza. Using a huge Ferrara wood-burning pizza oven that was imported from Italy, this bad boy cooks pizzas in just a minute or two, in true Southern Italian style. Pair your slice with a shot of espresso or a glass of wine.
Founded by two wine lovers, Valentine takes the tasting room concept and translates it to coffee. This Washington Heights cafe and roastery is adjoined to a separate tasting nook where you can sample all the goods, which include in-house blended brews and selections sourced from small batch producers in Central America, Africa, and Asia. The comfortable and spacious cafe space also serves light snacks (muffins, cookies).
Grab a cup of joe and, in turn, help members of your community at Dryhootch, a not-for-profit coffee house and veterans outreach organization on Brady Street, which is dedicated to helping veterans return to civilian life in a safe, comfortable, drug- and alcohol-free setting. Named for the fact that it doesn't offer alcohol ("dry") and welcomes vets ("hootch" is military jargon for a hut or safe place to sleep during combat), Dryhootch not only roasts its own brand of coffee beans with clever names like Marine Mud and Navy Destroyer, but also regularly hosts live music performances and other community events that serve its mission of social healing. Supporting a good cause is as easy as getting your regular caffeine fix.
The undisputed reigning champ of the Milwaukee craft coffee scene, this been around the block since the 90s' (and every cafe wanted to be Central Perk from Friends) kind of spot has outposts all over the city, but their Lakefront locale is the crown jewel. On sunny days, it's the perfect place to cozy up in one of the colorful patio seats and enjoy blended espresso drinks, smoothies, and light cafe fare. Bonus: it's dog-friendly.
If you see coffee shops as a peaceful and relaxing safe haven, this is your place. Rochambo, in a green house on Milwaukee's Historic Brady Street, draws inspiration from Buddhism to create an easy-going atmosphere with bright purple and yellow walls adorned with Om symbols. You can hang here any time of day; This spot doesn't close until midnight, and if you're not the type to drink straight coffee all day, they offer tea, two local ales on tap and a variety of booze to splash in your latte.
In the bottom of a house on the East Side's Historic Brady Street lies a brightly colored, delightfully cluttered cafe. Brewed serves up all-day breakfast, sandwiches and weekly homemade soup specials in a cozy space with a European vibe. Along with its Midnight Ham and Chipotle Turkey options, this cafe has a slew of vegan and vegetarian dishes like the Tofu Bahn-Mi and The Rabbit vegetable wrap.
At Urban Joe Cafe, food takes just as much priority as coffee. A wide selection of salads, wraps, paninis and sandwiches (with freshly baked artisan bread) can be found here in this West Allis favorite ( try a Crazy Chipotle Wrap with an iced latte or a Steak and Ale panini with a mocha). Prepare to get comfortable — this place has plenty of seating for you and your laptop so you don't have to worry about getting rushed in and out the door.
With multiple locations across Milwuakee, Stone Creek brings coffee from Wisconsin farms to the table (a table in a sleek, spacious and bright cafe). You can sit and enjoy one of Stone Creek's seasonal or signature coffees like Black Sheep (a sweet dark roast), classic French Roast or Milwuakee house roast in the cafe or take a bag home — which you can learn to brew from any of the public classes Stone Creek offers.