Start your day with these 13 local coffee roasters
Warning: Reading may induce a sensation that can only be cured with a fresh cup of coffee.
We may not have the coffee culture of Seattle or Portland, but Madisonians are no less committed to caffeine consumption. We don’t need massive bean farms disrupting our Dairyland reputation to brew up a cup of joe worthy of the java gods — we have plenty of small roasters right here to blow our minds and satisfy our taste buds. Whether you enjoy the beans in the comfort of your home or like to stop at a local coffee shop for a specialty drink, you’re guaranteed to get a quality caffeine fix from these local roasters. Warning: Reading may induce a sensation that can only be cured with a fresh cup of coffee.
Coffee trees can take root and survive for up to 100 years — a resilience reminiscent of Madison gem Ancora Coffee. Established in 1994 by then-owners George and Sue Krug, Ancora has been caffeinating Capitol Square for some time. Its King Street and University Avenue cafes are now run by Tori Gerding — who took over when the Krugs retired in 2013 — and she’s certainly filled the role and built upon Ancora’s legacy. Matcha lattes? Check. Lemon curd French toast? Check. Seasonal coffee drinks packed with flavor? Triple check. The coffee is pretty great when brewed at home, but drinks like the Pistachio Vanilla Zombie or Blackberry Sage Latte sound far too fun not to order in the cafe. What makes it all better is that Ancora’s bagels, kombucha, chocolate, milk, honey, meat, eggs, bread, baked goods, cheeses and more are all ethically sourced and locally produced right here in Wisconsin. While you can find beans at its shops, the USDA organic, fair trade coffee is also available online. 107 King St., 255-0285; 3318 University Ave., 233-5287, ancoracoffee.com
Air fryers have hit the mainstream, but what about air roasters? Using fresh, hot air instead of a heated plate or other surface to roast coffee beans, EVP Coffee focuses on eliminating the bitter taste from burn-inducing, nonuniform roasting methods. The cook times of beans aren’t the only things EVP roasters meticulously pay attention to — they want to spread the spirit of kindness and love, alongside bold flavors and simple excellence. “We hope every person who walks through our door feels seen and valued,” says owner Tracy Danner. “Madison has always been about supporting and creating community … there is no place for empty gestures when it comes to serving [here].” EVP Coffee has five locations that serve up snazzy drinks, and Oasis Cafe in Fitchburg serves EVP Coffee alongside homemade breakfast burritos and scrambles. Willy Street Co-op’s east and north locations also carry EVP grounds and beans, and traditional shipment options are available online. 700 University Bay Drive, 655-2460; 741 University Row, 709-1126; 555 S. Midvale Blvd., 441-1103; 1250 E. Washington Ave., 294-6868, evpcoffee.com
JBC Coffee Roasters
JBC Coffee Roasters has crafted coffees worthy of the impressive and elusive 90-plus coffee designation (as graded on a scale of 100 by Coffee Review). JBC has earned this grade numerous times, in addition to garnering Golden Bean medals, three Good Food Awards (“the Oscars of food products,” according to JBC co-owner Laura Salinger Johnson) and national media attention. Still not convinced about JBC Coffee Roasters? You can read detailed stories on its website about where each of its signature beans comes from. JBC’s story and products will lift your spirits in more ways than one. Try Karani with flavors of mixed berries, persimmon and dark chocolate from Kirinyaga, Kenya, or Miraflores with hints of pink lemonade, hibiscus and bubblegum from Colombia. If you want to spice up your coffee regimen, consider a coffee subscription. Get high-quality beans delivered to your door once a week — or twice a month, or once a month. Best part? The variety is a surprise so you never know what you’re going to get. Curbside pickup available at 5821 Femrite Drive, but online is the best place to order, 256-5282, jbccoffeeroasters.com
Just Coffee Cooperative
If transparency is what’s in this season, then Just Coffee Co-op is an absolute trendsetter. After visiting Chiapas, Mexico, to start fostering what would become a more than 10-year relationship with the small-scale farmers in the area, the collective started roasting and distributing the beans back in the Midwest. Just Coffee’s online coffee tracker allows buyers to see where their beans were grown, when they were roasted and even the price-per-pound paid to the grower, so you can feel good about your purchase. Originally sold at farmers’ markets and protests via bicycle so the company could deliver its spiel on sustainable trading, Just Coffee Co-op is now sold coast to coast. Willy Street Co-op and Bloom Bake Shop have Just Coffee Co-op’s brew at the ready, and the fair trade coffee is sold by the bag online. 204-9011, justcoffee.coop
Ledger Coffee Roasters
A microroastery and full-service coffee shop tucked inside Garver Feed Mill, Ledger Coffee Roasters is all about getting back to the basics. Its handcrafted, single-origin coffees are roasted in a 2009 Diedrich IR-24 with a Vortx EcoFilter ventilation system. This add-on not only reduces odors and dust from the batch of beans, it also consumes zero fossil fuels and produces zero greenhouse gases while in use. In addition to eco-friendly production, Ledger also specializes in espresso. Enjoy a brown sugar flavor with the Rally Cry dark roast, or Ledger’s Ethiopian single origin blend channels blueberries and citrus. Shop online and order for pickup. If debating when to pickup, come early Thursday through Sunday for dibs on the day’s selection of Level 5 Donuts to go with your coffee. (Options rotate weekly, but past flavors of churro, matcha and mango con chile sound pretty tempting, if you ask us.) 3241 Garver Green, Suite 140, 609-8054, ledgercoffee.com
Kin-Kin Coffee is all about building — and retaining — the community around it. While Kin-Kin is roasted at a different location, Johnson Public House is its home base. Regulars make the cafe all that it is (as does the lineup of baked goods, smoothies and sandwiches), and beans from Peru, Burundi, Tanzania and more fill the cups of JPH drinks. Folks can purchase brew-it-yourself beans, too, and can even read up on the altitude of growth and processing methods of the beans on Kin-Kin’s website. Pomegranate, chamomile, citrus, almond and honey are among the tasting notes, so you might just have to try them all. 908 E. Johnson St., 347-0483, kinkincoffee.com
Rusty Dog Coffee
Valentia, High Noon Saloon, Jennifer Street Market, Black Saddle Bike Shop, Hy-Vee, Metcalfe’s Market, Miller & Sons Supermarket, n + 1 coffee + beer … the list of places you can purchase Rusty Dog Coffee goes on and on. “Nothing warms up a cold morning like a great cup of coffee,” Rusty Dog Coffee co-owner Tony Bitner says. “Sitting by a window in your kitchen or favorite cafe watching the snowfall — that’s romance!” Rusty Dog’s beans come from all over. (No, seriously. Honduras, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya and Peru are just a few of the countries the company sources from.) For the frequent coffee drinkers, enjoy a monthly subscription box. Choose a Lighten Up subscription for lighter roast coffees or a Dark Side subscription for darker roast coffees. There’s also Roaster’s Choice for the person who likes a little mystery. If you want to drink coffee in the morning and tea at night, Rusty Dog exclusively distributes 6&12 tea, too. 888-901-4146, rustydogcoffee.com
True Coffee Roasters
Did you know that K-Cups are rarely recyclable? The folks at True Coffee Roasters sure did. To its knowledge, True was the first coffee roaster in Wisconsin to sell compostable pods, which chops down decay time to a week. Beyond eco-friendly perks, the Fitchburg-based roastery is always staying “true to the bean” with its blends, espresso and tea selection. The spicy Black & Tan and Moka Java — skirting between wine-like acidity and fruity-smooth finish — are among the most popular. True’s renditions of our favorite morning beverage originate from Africa, Indonesia, Latin America and Central America. Those who want something a little funkier can shake things up with the Free Wheel Biker’s Blend’s symphony of tart cherry and vanilla. True Coffee Roasters Cafe: 800 W. Broadway, Monona, 663-9390, truecoffeeroasters.com
Wisconsin Roasters With Madison Connections
Around the state, roasters are crafting quality beans that find their way to Madison.
You may have heard of garage bands, but what about garage roasters? Matt Snow started roasting small batches in a garage before Pat Mahoney and Aaron Holverson rounded out the operation in Spring Green. Brewhaha works with small-scale growers implementing sustainable farming practices and those providing fair and healthy working conditions for their workers. Roasting weekly — and even doing live roastings on Facebook — has obviously paid off, earning Brewhaha the 2019 Microbusiness of the Year designation in the River Valley. Brewhaha is slowly making its way across the state, but it can be found locally at Woodman’s, Festival Foods, Metcalfe’s Market and Miller & Sons Supermarket. 616-9994, brewhaharoasters.com
What began as a love for vinyl records and java in Milwaukee in 1993 has transformed into a statewide powerhouse, Colectivo Coffee. Its adorable candy skull stickers line the laptops and street poles of campus. For Colectivo, 1999 marked a new era, as a super sweet decision to offer baked goods, like almond croissants and orange currant scones, has endured. While you can find Colectivo at a multitude of restaurants and cafes in the Madison area, including Mother Fools Coffeehouse and Gotham Bagels, there are also three standalone Colectivo Coffee locations in Madison. 2530 Monroe St., 630-8930; 583 State St., 709-1911, colectivocoffee.com
John Joseph Coffee
Here Ye! Here Ye! Make way for John Joseph III and John Joseph IV. OK, so they aren’t real royalty, per se, but rather kings of roasting. The father and son duo from Sauk Prairie are doing it solely “for the love of coffee.” Well, and the fact that they love their community so much. “Our goal is to be on every counter of every home in Sauk Prairie, with as much of that going back out to local businesses, organizations and charity groups as we can,” co-owner John Brennan says. Take a short half-hour drive to Sauk City to grab a bag of fair trade and organically grown coffee at Wyttenbach Meats. John Joseph Coffee also ships. 469-8786, johnjosephcoffee.com
Ruby Coffee Roasters
About two hours north of Madison in Nelsonville is the 4,000-plus-square-foot home of Ruby Coffee Roasters. The small rural town with a population of less than 200 is where the people behind Ruby have put down roots in a renovated warehouse to roast and ship their nationally acclaimed coffee. If you pay a visit to the tasting room, be sure to take extra time to check out the nearby hiking trails and blow off some energy. These folks roast beans multiple times every week and try to ship as quickly as possible. But why so much commitment? “We like to think that we have deep connections to the coffee we source,” says Ruby’s Sale Manager Jesse Raub. Find Ruby at The Heights or Alimentari and just outside Madison at Wildwood Cafe in Stoughton. Roastery/tasting room: 9515 Water St., Nelsonville, 715-254-1592; Cafe: 1410 Third St., Stevens Point, 715-544-6139, rubycoffeeroasters.com
Formerly Kickapoo Coffee, this group of roasters swapped out its name for a new one over the summer. With humble beginnings in a train depot in 2005, Wonderstate has now revamped its brand and is expanding its effort to sling ethical coffee. Powered by solar energy, the roastery in Viroqua aims to help the environment. Carbon offsets are purchased to balance out wholesale shipments, and a 96-panel solar display right outside the front door handles the rest. Wonderstate’s new Capitol Square cafe is in the works, but you can pop online or travel to Viroqua, Milwaukee or Bayfield for the time being. From the bright and punchy Panorama blend to a rich and fudgy bag of Big Dipper, sustainability is coupled with satisfaction if you are sipping on a Wonderstate brew. Coming soon: 25 W. Main St., wonderstate.com
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