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Discourse Coffee bringing full-service, all-day café to Radio Milwaukee

Two men and woman sit on comfortable furniture at an indoor café. A man standing next to them hands a cup and saucer to one of the seated men.

If you’ve spent any time at our Walker’s Point studios in the past couple years, you probably noticed the lack of activity in the southwest corner of the building. Today, we’re excited to announce the partner who will bring that important part of our community space back to life: Discourse Coffee.

“Our Walker’s Point home is an integral part of the way we build community. Having a place for folks to gather, connect and share ideas is the reason why we own and operate our own space,” Radio Milwaukee executive director Maxie C. Jackson III said. “Since the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been missing a tenant in our cafe space, and we are thrilled to have found a partnership in Discourse Coffee that we are confident will add to the neighborhood and serve our listeners.”

The Discourse story

Serving is exactly what Discourse Coffee has done since 2017, when founder and creative director Ryan Castelaz got things started in Sister Bay on the Door County peninsula. Eventually, he made the move south and began hosting pop-ups around Milwaukee with partner Olivia Molter.

Two men pose at the counter of a cafe, both holding mugs, with a teapot in front of them.
Ryan Castelaz and Sean Liu of Discourse Coffee.

The business took some big steps in 2022, opening its first cafe at Crossroads Collective in February with help from partner Sean Liu, a second location at the Milwaukee Art Museum in April and a flagship location downtown via a partnership with Direct Supply in September. That trend continues with Discourse’s plans for its Radio Milwaukee location, which Castelaz called “the full evolution of what we want Discourse Coffee to be.”

“Radio has been an important part of my life for a long time,” he continued, “and the way Radio Milwaukee approaches storytelling and music discovery strongly parallels the way we aim to tell stories through flavor at Discourse.”

A full-service approach

For starters, the location will be an all-day café modeled after what you might find on the streets of Europe. At its foundation is Discourse’s well-established and well-deserved reputation around the city for offering a thoughtful selection of classic and craft drinks, as well as options of a more adventurous and experimental nature.

At the espresso bar, you’ll find locally sourced and housemade craft syrups, bitters and powders, plus extensive pour-over and by-the-cup tea programs. In addition, Milwaukee’s music scene and Radio Milwaukee personalities will be represented in Discourse’s more creative concoctions, past examples of which include:

  • Motorhead, which combines pork fat and apple caramel with root beer bitters and granny smith apple powder, 
  • The Odd Duck, which saw local candy cap mushrooms meet toasted fenugreek, sweet soy sauce, sous vide coffee, and a liberal dusting of passionfruit powder. 

You’ll be able to enjoy those offerings to go or at the cafe, either on your own or as part of a seated tasting menu experience that’ll walk you through each step of the drink-making process.

Discourse will have the later part of the day covered by bringing back something it hasn’t done since closing its aperitivo bar Springs in Sister Bay. For the first time since then, the menu will include no- and low-proof spritzes designed for refreshment, as well as full-strength cocktails and a carefully curated lineup of beer and wine.

What makes the Radio Milwaukee location truly full service is the simple, seasonal food program that’ll celebrate local producers. Sandwiches, salads, soups and boards will all be on offer, with a patisserie and dessert program spearheaded by Discourse pastry chef Frankie Hartmann.

When to visit

Both Discourse and Radio Milwaukee are already at work to make this vision a reality as soon as possible. That starts with Discourse renovating the existing café space to add a small kitchen. Renderings of the new look will be available later in 2023, as will the location’s full menu.

And while the partners have set a target opening of January 2024, you’ll be able to get a taste much sooner than that. During our upcoming fall membership drive (Oct. 2-6, 9-13), we’ll open our doors to the public as Discourse hosts a pop-up at our Walker's Point studios every day from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m.

We’ll bring you every piece of information about the project as it becomes available between now and the opening early next year. Stay up to date by following the social media accounts of Radio Milwaukee (Facebook, Instagram) and Discourse Coffee (Facebook, Instagram), and mark your calendar to visit us during the fall drive for a sneak preview of the new partnership.

A man seated at the counter of a cafe talks to a man stationed behind the counter. Both have crystal glasses in front of them nearly filled with a clear liquid.