In August, we brought you the news that Discourse Coffee would be expanding its reach to include a new Downtown cafe at 1020 N. Broadway. Just a few weeks later, the cafe is abuzz with customers following its official opening to the public on Sunday, Sept. 18.
Located adjacent to the Direct Supply Innovation and Technology Center, the cafe's entrance located slightly below sidewalk level, giving the space a bit of a speakeasy-like charm.
Inside, guests will find a welcoming, cozy space, complete with an espresso bar offering guests a bird’s eye view of the baristas at work.
Blue banquettes and low tables flank the windows on the front of the cafe, providing workspace for students and comfortable spaces for meetings. Plentiful outlets are scattered throughout the cafe, making it easy to charge phones and laptops.
Meanwhile, soft seating surrounded by greenery provides comfortable, conversational spaces for chatting. There are also vinyl records for customers to spin on a vintage turntable and a wide variety of books to peruse during your stay.
The coffee menu features Discourse signatures like sous vide coffee, pour-overs from roasteries including Metric Coffee, Black and White and Luminous Coffee and espresso drinks, including vanilla, caramel and salted maple lattes.
The core menu also includes Discourse classics like Moonwater (espresso, honey, cinnamon, pepper, smoked salt); Parisian (matcha, blueberry, passionfruit, mango, lime); and The Lewis, a memorably refreshing drink named for John Lewis of Direct Supply featuring cold brew flavored with cherry, tomato, lemon, bitters and bourbon essense ($7).
But guests can also look forward to an experimental drink menu with creative offerings which will change out on a monthly basis. Currently, offerings include Clyde, an iced drink featuring chai concentrate, mango, cardamom, tamarind, nutmeg and oatmilk ($7); The Pumpkin Situation with espresso, brown butter pumpkin sauce, cardamom tamarind syrup, star anise, house pumpkin spice and milk ($7); and the El Mocha, a beautiful riff on the traditional mocha featuring espresso, dark chocolate, aged balsamic vinegar, balsamic beet syrup, blackstrap bitters, roasted beet hazelnut powder, oat milk and a blackberry garnish ($9).
Guests can also experience the Caramel Apple Bomb, a one bite exploding sphere of local apple cider, dulce de leche, candied pecan and cocoa butter.
Baked goods, salads & more
Meanwhile, food offerings at the cafe mirror the complexity and thoughtfulness of Discourse’s drinks with offerings including baked goods, snacks, salads and sandwiches.
Baked goods include offerings from Matilda Bakehouse, along with offerings made by Discourse bakers Louis Byers and Frankie Hartmann.
Housemade goods like the Bonnie bun, featuring turmeric and cardamom brioche dough filled with mango-tamarind paste and glazed with Greek yogurt, honey and sumac pairs beautifully with the Clyde (and yes, the “Bonnie & Clyde” reference is intentional).
Additional bites include a yuzu parfait with Greek yogurt, yuzu marmalad, saffron honey, house granola, candied ginger and fresh blackberries ($4); and baked goods like dark chocolate blackberry scones (a lovely pairing for the El Mocha), spicy lemon dill scones with goat cheese and babka.
Salads include smoked beet salad with pears, chevre, toasted hazelnuts and greens with zesty avocado dressing ($9) and spiced carrot salad with berbere spiced carrots, carrot top chimichurri, house ricotta, pistachio dukkah, greens and preserved lemon vinaigrette ($9).
Guests can also order chicken salad sandwiches made with buttermilk brined sous vide chicken, pickled cherries, umeboshi, beet greens and rosemary mayonnaise on Rocket Baby ciabatta ($12); and smorrebrod featuring house cured lox, herbed lemon dill cream cheese, cucumbers and red onions on housemade Danish rye ($12).
Like the coffee menu, food offerings will evolve over time to match both the drink offerings and the seasons.
Discourse Downtown is currently open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.