Archive for vermiculture

Alterra Coffee

Posted in Cafe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2008 by Robb Olson

Alterra Coffee:

Alterra at the Lake
1701 N Lincoln Memorial Dr
Milwaukee, WI 53202

The Breakdown:
Hours: Mon Thru Fri 6:30 – 10, Sat & Sun 7 – 10
Wi-Fi: Free.
Fair Trade: Fair Trade/Organic

Vegan/Vegetarian Friendly: The food menu offers both meat and meatless options on their breakfast and sandwiches menu

Menu: Alterra has a fairly standard breakfast menu with granola and breakfast sandwiches, and also has a breakfast burrito section. Their sandwich menu has basics like ham & cheese and tuna melts, but also has more quirky selections like their avocado BLT.

Outdoor seating: Weather permitting (great location, right by the lake)

My eats: Large iced honey latte, chocolate chunk cookie.

Avoiding the Mermaid: There are nine Alterra locations in Milwaukee (and most recently, an Alterra cart surfaced in the entrance of some Home Depot somewhere in Chicago,) versus the 16 Starbucks locations. I don’t know the lay of the land up there too well, but I like those odds. In my various trips around town, I scoped at least four of the Alterras, and not a one of the Starbucks locations.

A mainstay in Milwaukee, Alterra Coffee is host to nine locations throughout metropolitan Milwaukee (and a freak stand somewhere in Chicago in the entryway of a Home Depot). Alterra at the Lake sits right on Lake Michigan in the Milwaukee River Flushing House, which was built in the late 1800’s (Yes, i’m not above ripping off their website and plagarising if necessary.) Surrounded by fields, Tennis Courts, and a giant beachy lake.

You get a good mix of people at this location. Families on a weekend beach visit, athletic types stopping in after running/biking/tennis/surf gliding, and just random dudes and chicks. I’ve never seen the place not busy, but it’s enormous

– sporting two floors of seating, and ample table space outdoors too.

The menu is what I would consider your typical coffee shop cum cafe food menu. A good selection of sandwiches, some breakfast options, and a ton of baked goodness. There are some vegan options, including some sort of tofu breakfast scramble that sounded good even to me. On this visit, I had a chocolate chunk cookie, and it hit the spot.

The coffee menu is just how I like it. There’s your standard choice of lattes, breves, mochas, americanos and such. Then they have a section of specialty espresso drinks which includes delights such as my Honey Latte, and a minty mocha they call the Bull Frog. Aside coffee, they have over a dozen tea selections, smoothies, juices, and of course, hot chocolate.

While the lines can get a little long (I think there were about 12 to 14 people in front of us that Saturday afternoon), the wait is worth it. The staff is youthful and friendly, and the food and drinks are always well made. While waiting, we checked out their huge selection of branded merchandise, which includes organic cotton shirts, messenger bags, travel and home style mugs, and bunches of other stuff. They also offer tea service items and infusers. Oh, devilish marketing.. make us wait for that delicious nectar of life, and parade us past all your cool shit you’re selling. I’m on to you!

And get this, If serving fair trade and organic coffee, and selling organic cotton t-shirts weren’t enough, Alterra has been using the following environmentally friendly practices for years:
Wind Power, PLA plastics (plastic made from corn), using used coffee grounds in vermiculture (worms in composting bins eat coffee grounds and other compostables, and poop out good fertalizer), and a list of green building practices so long, I won’t even go into it here. Check out their website, and be astounded at the coolness.

I like the place. It’s always on the list of places to hit when we’re visiting family in Chicago’s northest suburb. Check it out next time you’re hitting Summerfest or going to the (horribly over priced) Body Worlds at the museum.