We work hard, and we caffeinate hard too. In the office, we are proudly a Valentine Coffee Roasters crew. But we often get asked where we choose to work and sip when outside OnMilwaukee HQ. We have many many Milwaukee area favorites, but here are a few of our go-to's when we need a good jolt of energy and a place to knock out whatever we are currently working on.
Carolynn Buser, Editorial director
Tribeca Cafe & Book Gallery
1318 S 1st St.
This gem of a coffee shop is smack in the heart of Walker's Point but many still don't realize it is there. In the shadow of Rockwell Automation's lies a comfortable, delightful coffee and book shop – WITH parking! You'll see the big open flag out on the corner, but pull into the parking lot near Cermak to park your ride. No meter to plug, no car to move at an hour. Then, enjoy the blue-toned cafe and a Pilcrow. Grab the soup dumplings from Momo Mee next door when you leave. You can thank me later. UPDATE: Tribeca Cafe will be closing at the end of April, 2019.
The Original Fuel Cafe
818 E. Center St.
I live in Riverwest, and the original Fuel Cafe is right down the block so what started as convenience has grown into a full-blown favorite. They've been serving up "Killer Coffee & Lousy Service since 1993" and it is still just as delicious. Don't be scared by the lousy note - though this cafe is about laid back as you can get.
Matt Mueller, Culture editor/critic
189 N. Milwaukee St., (414) 273-5620
When Pleasant Kafe closed in early 2018, I was thought I was lost. The Lower East Side coffee and wine bar was my ideal writing spot, serving warm brews and an even warmer atmosphere – complete with blankets available for every table – with the right amount of white noise plus a menu of lunchtime snacks to fuel my way through any writers block. But then it was dead, and I was sad, a writer without his place to write – and therefore not much of a writer at all. (I haven't been to its replacement, Interval, yet but I'm working to amend that.)
Thankfully I found new writing home: Bella Caffe.
Tucked away in the Third Ward, Bella Caffe offers me everything I need in a writing hub: a cozy atmosphere with enough white noise without ever escalating into distraction, a tasty menu of Soup Market soups and toasted sandwiches that sate my hunger (so much so I rarely ever have room for one of their touted desserts), reliable WiFi, friendly staff and, most importantly, a weird spelling quirk in the word "cafe." Plus, it's a just a gentle walk from the OnMilwaukee office, so I can almost trick myself into thinking I got some good exercise before and after sitting at a desk for hours, gulping down soup. Bella's been an essential aid in pulling words out of my brain and onto a page; it only seems fair that they now get to be the recipient of some of those words.
2970 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 489-0765
My colleague Bobby Tanzilo will wax poetic about the brews and the atmosphere at this Bay View coffee shop – and he's totally right about all of those features making Anodyne great for working and writing. But I want to talk about one he surprisingly overlooked: the pizza.
Oh, the pizza. When I'm writing, I need something to nosh on and fuel the ... words-ing. (Can you tell I'm low on fuel right now?) And there's not much fuel better than a deliciously chewy Neapolitan-style pizza, whether I get the arugula and prosciutto pie or a big ol' platter of The Spice, which is basically a spicier, meaner pepperoni pizza. Give me one of those pizzas, a tasty mocha, my laptop and a seat on the window ledge (I love ledges for writing; they're perfect for zoning out when you need to) and you've got a happy writer – which means I get a happy editor.
Bobby Tanzilo, Senior editor/writer
2970 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 489-0765
Last summer I found myself driving every morning (when most folks are thinking more about croissants than pizza, Matt!) to Bay View and whenever I had some pressing work to get done, I'd pull up to Anodyne and fire up the laptop. I liked that parking is easy (I know, I know ... sorry), the staff is always friendly, the coffee is great and there's the right amount of hubbub to create a white noise background hum conducive to work. Unlike some places, that hum never escalated to noisome. I expect this summer will bring me back there again.
Stone Creek Coffee
422 N. 5th St., (414) 431-2157
I used to like this place best in winter for the fireplace and in summer for the tables right out front, where you could watch the interesting mix of folks moving to and from the Intermodal Station while thinking. Now, I love the fact that I can get on The Hop around the corner from my office and take it right there when I need a change of atmosphere to get some writing done.
Molly Snyder, Senior writer / editorial manager
I determined long ago that I work most efficiently when I stay in motion and don't get too comfy anywhere for a long period of time. I take life in "chunks." (You may call this ADD but hey, it's working for me.) Thus, I work in many different locations, including my work office, home office and numerous cafes. We have regular staff meetings at the Stone Creek at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, which I go to alone as well, but here are a few of the other cafes I frequent:
Fuel on 5th
630 S. 5th
This cafe is just a few blocks from my home, has ample seating and an invigorating-yet-chill vibe. I especially like that I can "hide" on the second floor if I need to really focus on getting something done. Also: the Korean Bowl, coffee *and* a sport tea are my perfect writer's fuel trifecta.
232 E. Erie St.
I started going here because the location was a convenient meeting spot for my interviewees, and I've returned again and again because I love their coffee and the natural light that floods the cafe. I had the pleasure of working in the new Kickapoo Cafe in Viroqua this past weekend, which is also where the coffee beans are roasted. (Shout-out to the Winter Solstice blend!)
2640 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
I love the '90s and this cafe always brings me right back. I also have a long history of great conversations here and my friend / extraordinary artist Shelby Keefe painted a picture of me sitting in this cafe that will forever be near and dear to my heart. I also like that the cafe is located on busy Kinnickinnic Avenue so when I need to daze out the window for a minute or two there's a lot to look at.
3385 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
I just mentally committed to Sprocket – owned by two very cool women – as one of my work spaces at the end of 2018. I am looking forward to writing more here this year.
Lori Fredrich, Senior food & dining writer
I’m never in one place very long; it’s just the nature of my job. But when I’m not moving from restaurant to restaurant interviewing chefs and taking photos, you can usually find me in a coffee shop, conducting interviews, processing photos or plunking away at my keyboard. I believe in spreading the love, so I try to frequent a variety of shops as often as possible.
Full of Beans Cafe
184 S 2nd St.
If I'm looking for a cozy spot to work for an hour or two, you might find me at Full of Beans. It's an adorable respite from the usual shops with an atmosphere that feels more like a quaint living room than a cafe. Their housemade bakery is amazing, and if it's close to lunch time, I can always count on a delicious bowl of soup to fill me up.
5918 W. Vliet St.
I take meetings with West Side folks here fairly frequently. It’s a small shop, so finding a seat can sometimes be a bit dicey; but if I time it right I can usually score a cozy table (bonus points if it’s near an electrical outlet for recharging my laptop). I appreciate the shop’s cozy vibe, as well as the friendly staff who always seem to put me in a better mood.
Jeff Sherman, President / co-owner
I’m an equal opportunity Milwaukee coffee connoisseur and live blocks from one of my favorites, Colectivo. So, when it comes to scheduling meetings, wanting to work outside the office or just feeling the need to nestle away somewhere to zero out the inbox, I do my best to spread the love to different places so I see different people and experience different vibes, and attempt to be mindful of going to places that help me recharge and reconnect.