Anodyne brings a jolt of caffeine to Walker's Point
Yesterday marked the opening for a shiny new roastery and café for one of Milwaukee's coffee brands. After about 10 years in its Bay View space, Anodyne Coffee Roasting Company has outgrown its quarters and has moved its roasting facility to a sharp brick building just down the street from Clock Shadow Creamery on Bruce Street.
It's a new beginning for a small company whose reputation for neighborliness has become synonymous with a steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee.
If you took a time machine back to 1999, you'd be likely to find Matthew McClutchy, owner of Anodyne, hunched over at 5-kilo roaster in the back room of a small coffee shop on Brady Street. He ran the café, then called Brewed Awakenings.
At the time, recalls Steve Kessler, now director of wholesale operations at Anodyne, the coffee scene was still developing. Colectivo (then Alterra) was building its company. Coffee was growing in popularity, but it wasn't anywhere near what it is today.
"It was more about the attitude and the vibe than about the quality of the coffee," Kessler reflects. "Kind of like in the movie, 'So I Married an Axe Murderer' … where women carried around huge cups of cappuccino that probably weren't even very good. But, the vibe was really, really cool."
But, the East Side coffee roastery and shop wouldn't be a permanent location for Anodyne. McClutchy himself moved to Bay View in 2003, and he took his coffee business with him, opening Anodyne Coffee Roastery on Kinnickinnic and Trowbridge. The coffee shop and micro-roastery became a neighborhood staple – a place that became iconic as much for its identity and sense of place as for its strong brew.
Years passed, and as locally roasted coffee became more popular in Milwaukee, Anodyne became a haven for coffee lovers who developed an appreciation for both the brand and the small-batch approach to roasting. Growth was never really at the fore for McClutchy and his crew; the emphasis was more on perfecting the craft. But, these days, even using a 30-kilo roaster, began to mean running the machine for days on end – many times into the night – to meet demand.
Increased business ultimately sparked the roaster's move from Bay View to the newly renovated 24,000-square foot roasting facility, where customers can enjoy a roomy bright atmosphere that wreaks of newness while paying significant homage to the past.
A main feature of the space, which seats approximately 100, is an impressive 40-foot bar repurposed from the Nautical, a bar in Bay View that closed almost a decade ago. Large windows keep the space bright, while warm wooden floors and brick walls keep the interior modern, yet cozy. Tables in the café area are all custom made from fallen trees from McClutchy's in-laws' 150-year-old farm near Black River Falls.
Shop tables that were left behind from previous owners have been repurposed to provide additional seating. Antique doors divide the café from its restrooms. And a good portion of the space's character is natural – simply the beauty of beams and brick that have been stripped and refinished to uncover their naturally rustic appeal. Meanwhile, a stage on the east side of the cafe will allow for live music or performances.
Behind the scenes, the new roastery houses a brand new Loring Smart Roaster, a high tech beast that runs on 80 percent less energy than a traditional roaster.
"On a normal roaster, as it roasts coffee, it takes dirty smoke and air and pulls it into an afterburner," Kessler explains to me. "The spent energy goes out through a stack into the air. This machine takes the spent energy and channels it back into the roaster to keep it running."
Within the next week or two, they'll also move the roaster from the Bay View store into the new facility, which will allow Anodyne to roast multiple batches of coffee at a time. The move will also allow the Bay View café to expand seating in the days to come.
The new facility also includes a "coffee lab," which will be used primarily for training individuals from Anodyne's wholesale accounts.
"We give all of our accounts free training," Kessler explains. "Now if somebody comes in, we have a dedicated lab for that purpose. They can learn everything from brewing to steaming milk to using a Chemex."
Classes will also be offered for customers looking to learn more about coffee. For example, beginning in October, Anodyne will offer two 2-hour classes featuring brand new coffees they just brought in from Costa Rica. Classes will include sampling, as well as demonstrations of manual brewing methods.
Kessler also says Anodyny will feature cascara – or coffee cherry tea – an herbal tea made from the dried berries of the coffee plant that Head Roaster Andy Helmkamp brought back from Perla Negro in Costa Rica.
"Normally once the seeds are removed from the cherries, they're tilled back into the soil or composted," Kessler says. "But, if washed and dried they make a delicious fruity tea with notes of raisins, plums, apples and cinnamon. It's the perfect opportunity to take people through the journey from fruit to coffee."
Speaking again of coffee, guests at the café will be able to enjoy a full complement of coffee and espresso drinks, as was the case in the Bay View café. But, they'll also be able to enjoy a few new beverages, as well.
A tapper behind the bar will be stocked with Milwaukee Brewing Company's Anodyne Brown Ale – a traditional ale infused with just the right amount of Anodyne cold brew to give it flavor.
"You get coffee notes," says Kessler. "But they don't overpower the flavor. You get malty, chocolatey qualities. But, it's an easy drinking ale."
Straight up cold brewed coffee will also be available, tapped with a special tip that aerates the coffee and gives it a head similar to beer.
According to Kessler, additional non-coffee beverage offerings including wine, are also in the works.
"The idea is that we'll have something for everyone all day," Kessler says. "We want to be here for the neighborhood. People can stop by, and have a cup of coffee in the morning. And maybe they stop by and grab beer while they're relaxing and waiting for a table at one of the area restaurants.
"We're really excited. The Walker's Point community has really opened their arms to us. We've been very very fortunate to work with the people we've worked with … our customers and accounts… but this gives us not only the opportunity to grow, but to really give people a space that illustrates what Anodyne is all about."
Through Sunday, Sept. 23, Anodyne in Bay View will observe slightly abbreviated hours from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. But, beginning Monday, Sept. 24, the shop will be open seven days a week, from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
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