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A different approach to community at Milwaukee’s newest cafe

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A packed coffee shopw with an LED sign on the wall that says "Discover Coffee's Origin!"
Qamaria Yemeni Coffee Co. in Greenfield is a gathering place for all corners of the community.

When you walk into Qamaria Yemeni Coffee Co., it may appear ordinary to an untrained eye. Your sense of smell will tell you otherwise.

As a cafe influenced by Yemen, this new coffee haven features a menu infused with spices like cardamom, ginger and pistachio. It also pays homage to the roots of coffee while functioning as a warm and inclusive hub, welcoming Milwaukee's Arab, South Asian, Sundanese and Muslim communities.

During the opening weekend, I dropped by around 7 p.m. — not exactly peak coffee-drinking time. Yet the place was buzzing with life, and the atmosphere showed no signs of slowing down.

That environment reflects one of Qamaria’s key appeals: its operating hours, open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. In discussions with patrons, it was clear to me that the community desired a space where socialization could thrive, especially in a late-night venue without alcohol. While acknowledging this isn't an entirely novel concept, what sets it apart is the intentional effort to establish a safe space for Milwaukee's Brown community and beyond.

I noticed that my behavior changed when ordering a pistachio latte. I didn’t opt for a “coffee name” similar to my given one, nor did I alter the pronunciation. I just said my name, and it was a seamless experience — a rarity for someone with an ethnic name like mine.

This week on Uniquely Milwaukee, I delve into the distinctive aspects of Qamaria Yemeni Coffee Co. Spending time with patrons, we explore why this coffee shop holds significance for their community. Conversations touch on culture, politics and the notion that sharing a cup of coffee can sometimes be a form of diplomacy. Later, I sat down with co-owner Anas Alharani to understand why this coffee shop is more crucial now than ever.

Audio Storyteller | Radio Milwaukee