The city’s newest coffee roaster, Pilcrow Coffee, began roasting in its new Bronzeville shop at 1739 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. late last year.
And, although it's a newbie to the Milwaukee scene, its coffee is already making a splash.
Earlier this month, Pilcrow was awarded first place in the America’s Best Cold Brew Competition in Nashville, Tennessee, for a cold brew made with Burundi Mikuba Red Honey. The award earned owner Ryan Hoban top honors among over 30 coffee companies including Cuvee Coffee (Texas), Bangarang Coffee Roasters (California), Sump Coffee (St. Louis) and Bean Fruit (Mississippi).
Pilcrow's cold brew is steeped for 16 hours, blended with flash chilled hot brew, kegged and infused with nitrogen gas, giving it a smooth, creamy consistency.
Hoban, who is currently roasting eight coffees – including Burundi Gaharo, Mikuba, Mikuba Red Honey, Guatemala El Limonar, Brazil FAF micro lot, FAF Bobolink, Panama Elida Estate and Columbia Prima Veral decaf – says that stylistically he's taking a slightly different approach from other local roasters.
"We specialize in light to medium roasts," says Hoban. "We’re fully developing the sugars that are intrinsically in the coffee, but not roasting them so much that you’re masking the other natural characteristics."
But, if you’re looking for a darker roast, Hoban is happy to point you to something that's a bit more up your alley.
"The Guatemala has really nice chocolate and nutty notes, so it appeals to people who think they prefer a darker roast," he says. "Whereas the coffee from Panama and Burundi is more fruity and floral."
The minute shop offers limited weekend hours, during which customers can buy whole bean coffee, pour-overs, espresso and nitro cold brew. Hoban is not only the owner and roaster, he’s also the barista, so if you’re interested in engaging in some coffee geek chat, he says he’s up for that as well.
In addition to folks from the neighborhood, Hoban says he’s seeing a lot of interest from other local baristas, who come to chat and compare notes on coffee.
"We’re seeing a lot of visitors from people who work for other area roasters," he remarks. "The coffee community here is pretty close, but people don’t get together very often. So, it’s a nice place to be, and part of what I hoped would happen."
In next steps for the coffee company, which is taking a smart, sustainable approach to growth, Hoban says he’ll be launching nitro trikes this summer, which will offer nitro tapped cold brew coffee to customers at select locations downtown between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and at the lakefront and special events on weekends. The trikes are also available for hire for private events.
In the meantime, coffee lovers can grab a cup or bag of coffee at Pilcrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays, order coffee or a coffee subscription online, or sample pour-overs of their coffee at the new Fuel Cafe at 630 S. 5th St.
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.