Madison is a highly caffeinated city. There are no shortages of cafes and coffee shops in every direction. For those of us who couldn’t (believe me, you wouldn’t want us to) go a day without imbibing the elixir of the roasted bean, we need look no further than to our own neighborhood to grab a latte, espresso and pour-over. Fellow java friends rejoice, for not one, but three new coffee shops have recently sprung up, bringing us to life with the buzz we crave and the cozy atmosphere we desire.
Stone Creek Coffee (1216 East Washington Ave., 422-5266)
In this Milwaukee-original shop, urban dwellers in knit hats sip lattes softly infused with dreamy flavors such as lavender, vanilla bean or cardamom spice. You can have a conversation and yet not feel intrusive upon the entrepreneur tapping away on his laptop at the table next to you. The space is industrial-chic with tall ceilings and a large garage door that come spring will open to a patio facing East Wash. Madison Sourdough provides the scones and other sweet and buttery things.
Café Domestique (1408 Williamson St., 467-2021)
Domestique is a French term that describes the cyclist on the racing team who rides for the benefit of the team; who serves rather than tries to win the race for himself. You don’t need to be a cyclist or even own a bike to enjoy the camaraderie of Madison natives, Dan and Tim, two friends/owners of this Willy Street space serving coffee within the also newly opened Cargo bike shop. Here, beans from Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee Roaster’s are behind every cup. The rosemary brown sugar syrup latte is a surprise and worth experiencing as an afternoon pick-me-up. This is a cozy, if slightly narrow space, with a few tables that could seat 3 to 4 friends comfortably and a smattering of chairs that encourage a leisurely sip. Get your bakery fix from treats provided by next door neighbor, Batch Bakehouse.
Porter (640 West Washington Ave., Suite 101, 720-1110
Waiting for a train that never comes has never been spent so pleasantly at Gil Altschul’s (owner of Grampa’s Pizza and Gil’s Bar) coffee and sandwich shop located in the more than a century-old Milwaukee Road Depot just off West Wash. Part of the revitalization of this historic train station, Porter joins Motorless Motion Bikes and La Lingerie along the boardwalk that faces a sunny yellow train car. Most seating is up on bar stools, but there are a couple of bistro tables with additional seating in the room that joins the coffee shop with the bike shop. We have Lazy Jane’s to thank for the delicious baked goods. The sandwiches are all Altschul. A stand-out is perhaps the Heritage Farms shaved ham breakfast sandwich with sharp cheddar, stone ground mustard, egg and red onions on a brioche bun. Along with a cup of coffee—maybe a flat white, this pairing is worth getting out of bed for.