Is there anything to do in Milwaukee other than drink beer and watch sports? Yeah, you could always drink coffee and listen to speed metal.
While Wisconsin probably has more taverns per capita than Ireland, we also have our fair share of dive cafes. Being a digital nomad, the numerous coffee shops around town are my public office spaces, and I have a few favorites. Whether you just want an alternative to the barrage of coffee franchises or an offbeat place to pen your memoir, one of these places has a lumpy chair with your name on it.
Fuel Café Riverwest Wifi: * * * Roaster: Colectivo
This place is alternative. Thematically, it’s a retro motorcycle enthusiast’s delight (me), and atmospherically, it’s a catch all for many subcategories of boot clad, shaved head, tatted, thick rimmed-glasses people. The music is typically rapid-fire guitar riffs and a fair amount of yelling, so in my experience it’s unideal for a conference call (I’ve learned the hard way). However, the décor is a cool combination of hand painted salvage pieces, old photographs, and other odds and ends. It’s excellent for people watching, I haven’t had a bad cappuccino, and it’s fun to ride my Honda Rebel over there. Watch out, there’s no A/C, so if it’s particularly hot and humid, you’re going to want to get your order iced.
Rochambo Brady Street Wifi: * * * * Roaster: Valentine
Rochambo is legendary. I’m obviously biased, but this is probably my favorite space. It’s bohemian-eclectic visually, and so are the people in and out of there. There’s a smattering of French poster art imitated on tabletops and the walls, and overall it’s a cozy assemblage of thrifted furniture and worldly scents. They have a broad tea selection, enchantingly sociable staff, a cool upstairs area to hide in, and overall positive vibes. Come in late night to sample the small selection of local beers on tap or to have one of their delicious coffee mixed drinks with hand-whipped cream. Say hi to Brian, he loves comic books.
Comet Café Lower East Side (Farwell) Wifi: - Roaster: Anodyne
Comet doesn’t have wifi, but they do have excellent food and serve big, delicious, smooth cappuccinos. It’s another combination bar/café, so it’s a good haven for a bit of a quieter night out. They host all sorts of cool events, and they really kill it with brunch time and vegetarian options. My favorite thing to order is the Ahi Tuna sandwich without the bun (don’t waste my time); they also have plenty of hearty alternatives. It’s the opposite of trendy in the way it looks, but it’s just a humbly solid spot to eat, drink, and hangout for a bit (offline). There is a public wifi hotspot nearby though-- you didn’t hear it from me.
Roast Upper East Side Wifi: * * * Roaster: Valentine
This is probably the fanciest place on the list, because all the furniture matches and you’re probably going to get some latte art. It’s a smallish space, never all that busy (in my experience). I love that the branding scheme is really tight, and the space has all sorts of art on the walls for sale and rich wood accents throughout. There's plenty of space to set up for a while or to meet someone out for coffee, and if you get hungry they have some sandwiches named after local bands and other fun Milwaukee references. Use cash to avoid extra cost if you aren’t hitting the purchase minimum. I’ve had to bail on the place in the past though because the upload speeds weren’t good enough for my purposes, but that’s because I have an obnoxious number of files to transfer. It’s kept quite cold during the summer, and there’s plenty of neighborhood parking. Also a great place for avoiding eye contact with people.