Alterra at the Lake

Remedy for jet lag after arriving in Milawaukee, WI:

1. Wake up early, drive to 1701 N Lincoln Memorial Drive, park in the public parking area behind one of the largest and strangest coffee shop buildings you’ve ever seen.

2. Change into your running clothes. A light jacket may be necessary.

3. Run the Lakefront Park Loop; enjoy the incredible views of downtown Milwaukee, Lake Michigan, and multitudes of nubile co-eds who frequent the area.

4. Return to the parking lot, towel off, stretch, head inside.

5. Partake in some of the best coffee and espresso you will ever have. Continue to enjoy views of Lake Michigan and Milwaukee’s pretty young things. Eat a Cowboy Cookie.

6. Repeat as necessary.

Filling the nooks and crannies of the former Milwaukee River Flushing Station (we have no idea what a river flushing station is or does. Or why it exists in an area of Milwaukee that is riverless), Alterra at the Lake is the most unique of Alterra Coffee‘s numerous cafes located throughout Milwaukee. Spanning numerous levels and rooms, with tables looking out on to Lake Michigan, this lakefront location epitomizes everything we love about local coffee shops; amazing coffee located within an architectural revival that forms a community centerpiece. Alterra is local and proud of it, spreading its great coffee and espresso throughout the Milwaukee area. The Americano here is the second best we have ever tried.

In addition to its wonderfully unique location, Alterra at the Lake is located in the middle of the best running area in downtown Milwaukee. Pretty young things aside, the runs near the cafe bring you past some of Milwaukee’s oldest, and richest, neighborhoods, packed with architecturally stunning homes and landscapes as well as numerous stair cases that are great for a side diversion and beaches to round out the mix. The ample parking behind and near the cafe make it a great spot to start and end a run.

Price-wise, Alterra skews toward the more expensive side of things, but the quality of their products make it worth the slightly higher cost, as do the highly attractive, overly hipster baristas that handle the crush of customers with smiles and efficient drink slinging. The attractive coolness of the staff might make you feel like a high school dork all over again, but better than starting your day looking into the eyes of the dark side.

Beyond the baristas, the coffee and the location, Alterra at the Lake, and Alterra in general, is one of the most community centric coffee shops we have come across. Involved in numerous partnerships with Milwaukee area cultural, environmental and community building groups, including Second Harvest of Wisconsin, the Urban Ecology Center, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Alterra is committed to community building, making enjoying their coffee and locations more enjoyable overall. This is a coffee chain that we would be happy to see become a bit more ubiquitous in the community. Alterra coffee, and especially Alterra at the Lake, has become one of our favorite bean dealers; check it out for the runs, stay for the coffee.

Alterra Coffee: 9 locations

Alterra at the Lake

1701 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Hours: M-F: 6:30am-10pm, Sat and Sun: 7am-10pm

View Milwaukee Food and Drink Map in a larger map



Filed under Cities and Towns, coffee shops, Milwaukee, reviews, Wisconsin

2 responses to “Alterra at the Lake

  1. Pingback: Max’s Guide to Coffee « this way west

  2. Pingback: Lake Drive Loop « this way west

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