By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Apr 26, 2024 at 2:29 PM

Valentine Coffee has moved its roasting operation to a new building, where it will have considerably more space, and the move also sets the stage for the expansion of the company’s original cafe on Vliet Street.

The new roasting space is located in a former Grede Foundry building near Hawthorne Glen in Wauwatosa at 1161 N. 62nd St.


“It's literally a nine iron away from where I started roasting at Bartolotta’s (now demolished space around the corner) back when we first started,” says co-owner Robb Kashevarof. "So it's going to be great. We're moving from about 1,600 square feet to 17,000 square feet.”

Valentine’s roasting operation had previously been located behind the cafe at 5918 W. Vliet St., which opened in 2013.

The company launched as a wholesale coffee roaster in 2009. It opened a second cafe in the former Bella Caffe in the Third Ward, 189 N. Milwaukee St. A West Allis cafe opened last year at 5835 W. National Ave.


The new facility has packaging and storage space, as well as Valentine's offices, quality control lab and other departments. It has allowed the company to consolidate four storage spaces into one location, says Kashevarof.

“We've got new equipment, another roaster," Kashevarof says.

That roaster is a much larger version of the main one that was in use in recent years at Vliet Street.


"We have a lot of head space right now," says co-owner Joe Gilsdorf, noting that there was no interruption in roasting because the new machine was up and running on 62nd Street before roasting ceased, about a month ago, on Vliet Street.

"This is a 25-kilo machine," he explains, pointing to the long-serving Vliet Street roaster. "We were running this 10 to 12 hours a day, six days a week. This (new one) is a 70-kilo machine. So we're roughly three times capacity in that machine than this one."

Kashevarof adds, "We have this roaster, as well," pointing to a red, and much, much smaller, roaster.


"This is the one we first started with, the one my wife and I bought with our tax return and a credit card in 2009. It still operates. It's still a beautiful roaster."

That one is still in use, and will continue to be used, for test and samples batches, as a development tool.

Construction is underway at the new facility and the plan is to have it completed sometime in June.

"We got in at the end of August," Gilsdorf recalls, "and there was a couple months of cleaning we did.

"Grede had vacated probably about 10 years ago. But Heine Electric was in here for a while, Beyond Vision was here for a while."


Still, opening a food-focused business in the space required extra-deep cleaning, says Kashevarof.

"It took us months to wipe everything down, prime everything, scrub the ceiling, the right kind of paint, all kinds of stuff to turn a foundry into a food processing plant. It was a lot of cleanup."

Valentine also plans to remodel and expand the Vliet Street cafe, to plans by Tosa-based architects Galbraith Carnahan, who are also working on the new facility.

“There will be a bigger cafe," Kashevarof says. “We're hoping to have a little kitchen and a bakery there so we can start serving food like we do in the Third Ward."

Currently, Valentine partners with a number of local businesses on food, including Black Shoe Hospitality, City Market, Grebe's, Cranky Al's, Gingerbread House and La Tarte, and they expect those relationships to continue.

"We've always used the bakeries that are coffee partners," says Gilsdorf. "They buy coffee from us, and we buy bakery from them."

"There's some things," Kashevarof continues, "that we want to do on our own. The bakery things that are only good that day ... it's hard to buy from another bakery and have delivered every single day."


The plans for Vliet Street call for some interior and exterior remodeling, as well as a large expansion of the public-facing cafe area. That also includes creating a large outdoor space on the adjacent parking lot that could, at some point, be completely enclosed.

Work has not yet begun on this effort, but, the two say, plans and preparations have been made and they hope it will be complete by August. 

In 2015, I did a shift as a coffee roaster at Valentine and you can read about that here.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.