In Dining

We can't get enough of Milwaukee's great coffee shops.

OnMilwaukee's favorite coffee shops to work in

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.
tribecagallerycafe.com
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

Bella Caffe
189 N. Milwaukee St., (414) 273-5620

bellacaffe.com
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.

Anodyne Coffee
2970 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 489-0765
anodynecoffee.com
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

Anodyne Coffee
2970 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 489-0765

anodynecoffee.com
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
stonecreekcoffee.com
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
fuelcafe.com
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.

Kickapoo Coffee
232 E. Erie St.
kickapoocoffee.com/pages/historic-third-ward-cafe
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!)

Hi-Fi Cafe
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.

Sprocket Cafe
3385 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
sprocketcafe.weebly.com
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.

Stone Creek Radio Milwaukee Cafe
158 S. Barclay St.
I've become a regular at the Stone Creek at 88Nine; I love the baristas, the vibe and the ability to pinch hit on lunch with a toasted aged cheddar bagel and cream cheese. And, for some reason, it's a place where I can really focus and get my work done (as long as I don't run into too many people I know).
5519 W. North Ave.
Among the newest spots on my list is Vennture Brew Co., which has become one of my favorite spots to get much needed writing done. The shop is generally filled with a pleasant stream of regulars, and I can almost always find a seat either at a table or on the end of the bar. The pour-overs are great (I love exploring their ever-changing variety of coffees), and if I arrive post-4pm I always have the option to enjoy one of their exceptional beers while I work.

Full of Beans Cafe
184 S 2nd St.
fullofbeanscafe.com
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.

4177 S Howell Ave.
If I really want to escape, I'll head over to Hawthorne Coffee where I can not only get my bourbon barreled cold brew fix, but also a bit of quiet work time. The small staff is always friendly (and if I'm lucky I can squeeze in a pleasant chat with Steve Hawthorne or Kendra Barron), tables there give me room to spread out and the atmosphere is quiet and chill. If it's the end of the work day I can also look forward to a coffee cocktail before I head out.

Valentine Coffee
5918 W. Vliet St.
valentinecoffeeco.com
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.

Colectivo - Foundry or US Bank
170 S. 1st St.
777 E. Wisconsin Ave.
Yes, "my" Colectivo on Oakland is a short walk from our house, but if I need to lock in and work, it's off to the Foundry location or US Bank. Foundry's a bit more casual while the seating options and environments at US Bank are plentiful and include the funky Westin lobby, too.

Stone Creek Radio Milwaukee Cafe
158 S. Barclay St.
This is great stop. I always see a ton of people I know, and there's a great vibe that mixes professional and casual. Love it here.

Starbucks - Third Ward and new Northwestern Mutual building
326 N. Water St.
720 E. Wisconsin Ave.
These two are easily my favorite two Starbucks in the city. In the Third Ward location, you'll find great people and vibe – plus it's close to a Hop stop. Meanwhile, the NM location is sunny, open and airy and full of seating.

Whole Foods Market
2305 N. Prospect Ave.
This is an outlier pick, I know. But it harkens back to OnMilwaukee's East Side roots. I love the layout of this store and can't wait to see what the in-progress new developments bring to the inside of the store. Employees say new décor is on the way as well as reworks for many sections including bakery, beer and cheese. Anyway, I like sitting at the coffee bar in the mornings. Good variety of coffee and people.

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