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Urban Spelunking: Colectivo Prospect Ave.

In many ways, it all began here.

Sure, in 1997, Colectivo (then Alterra) had a pop-up store at Bayshore Mall. But that was it. The coffee roasting was happening at a separate location on the South Side, and those iconic cafes we see today hadn't been opened yet.

But that changed when the company acquired an empty building on the East Side -- a former auto parts store -- and brought its coffee roasting operation under the same roof as its first stand-alone cafe. Now, Colectivo runs 17 cafes in Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago.

The Prospect Ave. location is still slightly different from the rest, however.  It is the only one to offer a music venue, in a unique partnership with the Pabst Theater Group.

 The Back Room at Colectivo makes use of the space formerly used for roasting.  It seats between 150 and 300 people, providing a more intimate experience than some of the city's larger venues.

OnMilwaukee's Bobby Tanzilo visited the space for this week's Spelunking and joined me in studio.

Click the player to listen.

To read Bobby's complete story, visit

Director of Digital Content | Radio Milwaukee