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Milwaukee's Under-The-Radar Neighborhood Coffee Shops

These local hubs operate in the shadow of Stone Creek and Colectivo (not to mention Starbucks), but are definitely worth a visit

Jan. 12, 2016
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Photo by Rambling Dream, Flickr CC

Over the course of the last decade or so, Milwaukee has become one of the most overly saturated markets for coffee shops in the United States. The level of ubiquity is becoming reminiscent of this scene from Christopher Guest’s Best In Show:

The extraordinary quantity of coffee shops does not necessarily diminish the quality, as our city is full of high-caliber, locally roasted coffee made by meticulous and highly trained expert baristas.

Coffee drinkers are often creatures of habit, and tend to frequent the same shops repeatedly as a part of their weekly routines, whether it be on the way to work during the week or to relax with a book on a weekend. In the interest of broadening horizons, here are some of Milwaukee’s best under-the-radar coffee shops, which are beloved by their regulars and are just waiting to be discovered.


Brewed Café

1208 E. Brady St.

Brewed Café is not exactly a secret, as it’s located on an area of Brady Street that gets a ton of foot traffic on a daily basis. The thing that sets Brewed apart from other coffee shops is its unique architecture, custom-painted artwork decorating the inside and outside of the building (including a hand-painted mural on the ceiling and a mural on the side of the location), copious amounts of comfortable seating nooks, and an above-average food menu. Brewed is the type of place that a young author, playwright, or songwriter would feel inspired and comfortable doing work.

Fuel Café

818 E. Center St.

Fuel Café is like the kid in middle school who already had a real tattoo when the other kids were still enamored with temporary press-on tattoos. Riverwest’s hipster haven, Fuel Café has a distinguished and intentional rough around the edges feel, which makes it the ideal haunt for members of Riverwest's prodigious creative community. One of Fuel’s big draws is their sandwich menu, including their famous Buttafuoco, a deliciously melty, gooey, spicy, decadent sub sandwich, great when washed down with a bold cup of coffee.


Hawthorne Coffee

4177 S. Howell Ave.

Hawthorne Coffee Roasters’ brick and mortar location in Bay View is the newest coffee kid on the coffee block, but you may have encountered their product previously at Holey Moley Donuts in the Third Ward, The West Allis Farmers Market, or Ardent. Hawthorne Coffee focuses specifically on creating wholesale coffee, and you’ll see their name popping up exponentially more around town in the near future. If you live near Bay View or travel past on the way to work, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better cup of coffee in the area.


Roast Coffee Company

2132 E. Locust St.

Roast Coffee Company is a destination for UWM students, as its located right in the heart of campus. It has a great open feeling, original artwork on display and natural light that makes it very conducive to concentration. Roast feels about as anti-corporate as it gets, in a good way, and is a great spot for writing, reading, or whatever else you enjoy doing in coffee shops.


Rochambo Coffee and Tea House

1317 E. Brady St.

In relation to other coffee shops, Rochambo is like the kid in middle school who already had discovered The Pixies while the rest of the class was still listening to Sharon, Lois and Bram. Rochambo is located in an area populated with some of the city’s most popular bars, serves beer and alcoholic beverages, and is open until midnight. Also of note, Rochambo is one of Milwaukee's only tea houses, and the only entry on this list with a focus on tea.


Sherman Perk Coffee Shop

4924 w. Roosevelt Drive

Sherman Perk Coffee Shop would make a great setting for a sitcom Something interesting is always happening at Sherman Perk, whether it be live music, their Saturday specialty omelets, or Sunday Packer parties, and it serves as a community hub and meeting ground. Though it’s a bit off the beaten path, it has a charm that makes it worth a trip.

Valentine Coffee Co.

5918 W. Vliet St.

Since opening in 2009, it seems that Valentine Coffee has been perpetually on the brink of becoming a household name in Milwaukee. Located in Washington Heights, nearby a number of other noteworthy local businesses including The Times Cinema and Meritage, the area surrounding Valentine has quietly become a destination. Planning a date around coffee, dinner and a movie is a slam-dunk. A unique aspect of Valentine’s brick and mortar location is their tasting room, which was established as a way to display their expertise, as the company's culture is founded on the bedrock of producing admirably impressive coffee. 

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