Steep & Brew in Wisconsin

Just received an email this morning from the owner of a Madison, WI based coffee company called Steep & Brew. Mark Gross, the owner, shared a brief history of his company and provided this invitation to readers to check out their coffee.


Steep & Brew was founded in 1979 by Mark Ballering as a place where people could gather to share good music, company, and conversation over coffee. The location was the living room of a home, and it was staffed by volunteers. After a couple years, Mark happened upon a beautiful 1890s Italian coffee roaster and began roasting coffee. Soon thereafter, Mark began traveling to coffee farms in Central America, developing friendships with coffee growers and their families, and learning the fine art of roasting coffee from the ground up.

Our quest for great coffee led us to develop our own precision roasting processes. A strict adherence to exceptional bean selection, high quality standards, and freshness has helped us to be considered among the industry’s top specialty coffee roasters, and our coffees frequently receive national recognition. Honored coffees include our Breakfast Blend, Kona Blend and Costa Rican.

To ensure that you only experience the freshest possible coffee, Steep & Brew delivers your coffee with our own trucks and drivers, direct to your grocery store, within days of roasting. It doesn’t go through distribution warehouses like other coffees, which can take many months to even reach a store shelf!

Although we no longer operate out of the living room of a home, we do still operate some of our original coffeehouses. And our memories of those comfortable living room conversations over coffee have evolved into our mission to help you make your home life more enjoyable through great coffee!

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Photos: Stone Creek Coffee’s Radio Milwaukee Cafe

Here’s a beautiful set of photos from Radio Milwaukee.

Diagram on the front entryway tells you what is where at the new Stone Creek Coffee / Radio Milwaukee Cafe in Milwaukee's 5th Ward.

Radio Milwaukee 88.9 playing tunes behind those garage doors at the new Stone Creek Coffee / Radio Milwaukee Cafe in Milwaukee's 5th Ward.

Fireplace and outdoor seating at the new Stone Creek Coffee / Radio Milwaukee cafe.

Looking across the octagonal coffee bar at Stone Creek's new 5th Ward cafe - toward the common area in front of Radio Milwaukee's Studios - behind the orange garage doors.

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Radio Milwaukee

Stone Creek Coffee has opened a new location on Barclay Street in Milwaukee. The new location is dubbed Radio Milwaukee. Cool name.

158 S. Barclay Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204

Here’s a schedule of events for our two day grand opening!

Friday, September 13
6 am – Open
10 am – Hand Brew demo
12 pm – Stone Creek Kitchen tasting
2 pm – Single Origin espresso class and tasting
6-10 pm – DJ Spin, beer and wine tasting

Saturday, September 14
6 am – Open
8-11 am – $1 Espresso & Milk drinks
12 pm – Stone Creek Kitchen Tasting
2 pm – Gesha coffee launch
6-10 pm – DJ Spin, beer and wine tasting

Stone Creek Coffee’s 10th cafe will be Milwaukee’s first and only manual brew bar cafe. Stone Creek Coffee plans to prepare every cup of coffee to order. Unlike other coffee cafes that brew and hold coffee in urns, Stone Creek baristas will prepare a selection of their fresh roasted coffees one cup at a time at the Brew Bar.

In addition to the brew bar, the Stone Creek cafe will also have an industry changing espresso program featuring the Modbar.

In addition to the brew bar and new Modbar, the new Stone Creek cafe will serve scratch-made food from the Stone Creek Kitchen, located a few blocks away.

The cafe will integrate into the Radio Milwaukee performance space via garage doors, allowing customers to hear and participate in live studio sets that will take place at Radio Milwaukee. The new cafe will also have an extensive outdoor patio where customers can sip their Stone Creek Coffee wile discovering new music from Radio Milwaukee.

Coffee Geeks Unite,

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Colectivo Coffee

Colectivo Coffee

Alterra Coffee in Wisconsin has just renamed and rebranded their company! The new name is Colectivo Coffee and they have a new web site up at for your perusal.

There’s an important note in the announcement press release about the Alterra name and how it will be used elsewhere in the world. The announcement states:

The ALTERRA® brand is going global thanks to Mars Drinks, while we chose to stay local. Maintaining full control of our company and employees future was a priority in our deal with Mars. At the start of our relationship with Mars Drinks, we decided to change our name in exchange for the long-term investment opportunity this transaction provided. Mars now solely controls the ALTERRA® Coffee Roasters brand name while we strike a new independent path as COLECTIVO™.

So, basically Alterra is now a coffee-delivery service for your office.

You can see more examples of the packaging and art at Brand New.

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Stone Creek Coffee Opens Factory Cafe and Kitchen on December 1, 2012

Stone Creek Coffee is opening their new location in December.

After nearly 10 months of construction and renovation, that date has been selected and we are gearing up to open the doors to our newly remodeled Factory…which means, it’s party time!

Join us on Saturday, December 1, to celebrate the Grand Opening of our Factory café, located at 422 N. 5th Street, as well as the brand new Stone Creek Kitchen.

The day-long event begins at 7am and will include:
Free Espresso Drinks from 7am – 12pm
Brew Bar demos and tours of the roasting facility and kitchen from 12pm – 6pm
Samples from the Stone Creek Kitchen, music and celebratory shenanigans from 6pm – Close

Read more at Stone Creek Coffee’s web site.

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Kickapoo Coffee Article

From an excellent article I found about Kickapoo Coffee:

That’s how it began. Seven years later, Kickapoo Coffee is running on all cylinders, says Nicholes. “Caleb and I both moved here to get out of the city, looking for a certain lifestyle. We didn’t have huge expectations. We weren’t focused on growth or having a medium-sized company, which is what we’re turning into…nine of us here.

“We had some early successes and a very clear vision from the get-go, which helped us become relatively successful early with some impressive growth and we had to re-consider where we wanted to head with this,” Nichols says, summing it up. “As we saw we had more resources and could bring new people on the team, we were blessed with awesome folks who kept bringing new energy to us. We were a little surprised when it got to the size we thought would take 5-7 years in only three years.”

Read the article at The Wormhole Coffee Blog.

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Cooperative Coffees

Cooperative Coffees looks like an interesting way for coffee houses to source coffee beans from origin. With members right here in Wisconsin, it is a cooperative sourcing organization with (at this time) 23 coffee roasters participating.

Cooperative Coffees is a green coffee importing cooperative, comprising 23 community-based coffee roasters in the USA and Canada, who are committed to building and supporting fair and sustainable trade relationships for the benefit of farmers and their exporting cooperatives, families, and communities.

Learn more at

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I love it when companies take design to heart

Love the great and simple branding on Kickapoo Coffee’s new cans.

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Kickapoo Coffee is Roast Magazine’s 2010 Roaster of the Year

This is old news to many, but I wanted to give a shout out to the crew at Kickapoo Coffee for earnings the honor of being Roast Magazine’s 2010 Roaster of the Year!

Kickapoo Coffee has a link to the full article, a PDF here, on their web site.

Kickapoo Coffee is based in Viroqua, WI and was founded in 2005.

Kickapoo’s headquarters are situated in Viroqua’s one-time train depot, a restored historic building that houses the company’s four full-time employees (including the owners) and the roastery’s centerpiece: a vintage 1930s G-30 Probat. The 30-kilo roaster is a true rarity— Nicholes and Semanchin haven’t been able to confirm whether another G-30 is operational in the United States—but functions as the best vintage roasters do, with a heat-retaining predictability that helps the coffee develop sweetly and consistently. Each coffee is roasted in a small, handcrafted batch to preserve flavor and allow for maximum freshness.

The roaster isn’t the only vintage item in Kickapoo’s facility. The company maintains a Jabez Burns sample roaster from the early 20th century that Nicholes refers to as a “gorgeous old cast-iron workhorse.” Kickapoo also vacuum seals its prepackaged coffees using a vintage canner that blends seamlessly into the surroundings. And throughout the facility visitors can see bits and pieces of local history, including reclaimed studs from the train depot’s original build, locally crafted cabinets and green coffee bins made of formaldehyde-free plywood, and handmade roaster belts supplied by local Amish craftsmen.

Although Kickapoo isn’t located in a specialty coffee hotbed, the Viroqua community is gradually responding to the company’s dedication to “full transparency in coffee flavor”—in other words, roasting light enough to express a coffee’s true potential. “In our marketplace, we’re generally the lightest by an order of magnitude,” says Nicholes. “But we work hard to source really high quality coffees that have more natural flavor, so we can get away with roasting them lighter and revealing those characteristics. And it seems to be working.”

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A trip to Des Moines

About 2 years ago I made a trip to Des Moines for a wedding and one of the places I stopped was The Mars Cafe. Well, that coffee house met with hard times and closed in August. Then, 4 regulars to the coffee house heard the announcement and made plans to buy the place and re open it. Long story short: It’s opening again on September 15th. Let’s hope it takes off this time.

What I wanted to say was that when I visited Mars Cafe I really loved it. Great atmosphere, eclectic furniture, and great coffee. So, if you are in Iowa give it a try.

The Wisconsin connection? They are now serving Wisconsin-based Kickapoo Coffee. A coffee roaster from Viroqua. Cool beans!

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