Fairgrounds – Milwaukee

The bright and whimsical newcomer to Milwaukee’s Yankee Hill neighborhood is Fairgrounds; a place to find coffee, tea, food, and discover something new.

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From the Fairgrounds website:
“We named this adventure in coffee and tea: Fairgrounds, as a reflection of our dedication to diversity in our offerings, our belief in equal billing for both coffee and tea, and our commitment to fair business practices. But we love the play on words, too. Because the fairgrounds of our youth were all about discovering something new and seeing something that made us say WOW.”

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Just like their other nationwide cafes, the signature swings, clever carnival decor and industrial accents make their appearance in this Milwaukee location.

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What Fairgrounds brings to Downtown Milwaukee is the opportunity to try new things.  Using a variety of coffee and teas from all over, customers get the chance to pick their poison in a unique design-your-own style of espresso and matcha bar.

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You get to choose your type of espresso (Colectivo’s Toro blend, a rotating single origin, or Frothy Monkey’s Unwind decaf blend)  or Matcha (Rishi’s organic, Rishi’s ceremonial grade organic, or Rishi’s imperial grade). Then you choose your drink type, followed by a flavor shot.

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In case those options don’t float your boat, they have cold brews and kombuchas on tap from all over the US.  Pretty cool to have options from some places we would otherwise not get the chance to visit. This is a huge asset to this establishment,  and we got especially excited about the flight  – a great way to try a bunch of different drinks with friends.

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The Brew Bar menu features coffee from Colectivo, Verve, Dark Matter, Stumptown, Four Letter Word, Gaslight, and Frothy Monkey.  What’s awesome is that they also sell the beans so you can enjoy them at home all week long!

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On Tap Flight Trio – Of course we couldn’t resist!
Limitless Salted Caramel Cold Brew – The salted caramel is no joke here.  Definite salted caramel flavors were both present and pleasant. It’s worth checking out this cold brew anytime of the year. 
Stumptown Cold Brew – Honest and true cold brew lovers will love this one. No nonsense, just a great cold brew. 
Marin Pinot Sage Kombucha – For us, this was a huge hit.  Tasting more like wine than kombucha, we loved the notes of white grape in this gently carbonated drink. 

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Iced Vosges Chocolate Truffle Mocha – With the decadent flavor of Vosage’s chocolate truffles, this subtly sweet drink will satisfy the cocoa lover in anyone.  Tasting more like bittersweet cocoa than sugary sweet chocolate, this was easy to drink and would have tasted just as great warm.  While we chose to have this drink made with Colectivo’s Toro espresso blend, we love that Fairgrounds lets you pick your espresso shot.

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Caramel Latte – Upgrade this latte to the single origin espresso for a little extra change (price and experience). You won’t regret it! It was incredibly smooth and perfectly sweetened. Note: The standard espresso is Toro from Colectivo.

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Grandpa IRV’s Espresso Old Fashioned – Wisconsin is known for their love for old fashioneds. The Grandpa IRV’s Espresso Old Fashioned is the “coffee” take on your classic mixed drink. Originally we ordered this drink expecting it to come out looking like a latte, however it’s served more like a cocktail. The drink was concocted of iced espresso, walnut bitters, simple syrup, and orange peel. Personally, we found it to be just a little too sweet. The syrups overpowered the espresso just a tad, but we loved the idea and thought it was a super fun drink!

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Vietnamese Cold Brew – This drink was a refreshing twist on an old favorite. The milk brought out some of the flavors of the cold brew, while the light dust of cinnamon on top added an element of spice. This was a perfect drink for someone who wants a hint of adventure.

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Kale Salad – Vegan and gluten free, this salad was packed with Kale, radishes, cucumbers, carrots, red bell peppers, pickled shallots, avocado tahini dressing, and toasted almonds. We love that this salad is so. very. healthy. And it was huge, so there were leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.  We weren’t a fan of the light bitterness of the kale overpowering the avocado tahini dressing, so there wasn’t a ton of flavor packed in here.

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Fried Egg and Bacon Sandwich – A really solid sandwich, but the bread stole the show. The bread was fresh and perfectly toasted. The fresh egg and bacon were nicely complimented by a harissa aioli. Simple yet satisfying!

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Pesto Caprese Sandwich – The Fairgrounds Pesto Caprese Sandwich undoubtedly deserves the little blue flag by it’s name on the menu, marking it as a Fairgrounds favorite. Basil pesto, fresh mozzarella, and tomato are always a crowd pleaser; slap that on ciabatta bread, and you got a dang good sandwich! This item came out hot and served with a side of classic potato chips. Chicken could be added to the sandwich, but we had it without. Overall, this was a great choice. The basil pesto was not overpowering, the mozarella was fresh and light, and the caramelized tomatoes added the finishing touch to make it a well balanced mid-day meal. It didn’t leave your stomach feeling heavy, but instead perfectly full and content.

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Our friends from @taredandcaffeinated weighed in on their Fairgrounds experiences:

Doppio Espresso – Rotating single origin espresso.  Nice machine. They’ve got to pull some more of these to get it dialed in, but it wasn’t sour or overdone.  Stoked to see what other single origins they bring in. 

Chai Tea Latte with Oatly Oat Milk – Kim got this. She has chai tea lattes down to an art form.  She guessed they use Rishi, and it was right!  Oatly was creamy and smooth, and there was some bite on the front end, but not too spicy.  Admittedly she loves a punch-in-your-face spice Chai, so Fairgrounds’s would probably be perfect for most.  

Pour Over – I had the Four Letter Word Columbia to see how their pour over worked out.  Pretty solid–they’ve got this nailed. Stoked to try the flight (three, 8 ounce pours) in future visits.  We hope they start pulling in other roasters from Michigan, Minneapolis, and maybe the Dakotas, in addition to having the four or five out of Chicago.  It would also be nice to see them give a nod to some of the smaller Milwaukee roasters.

As far as merchandise goes, there’s a lot of shopping to be done here.  Whether it’s drink ware, coffee or clothing, the merch-lover will leave here happy.

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Fairgrounds Milwaukee

916 East State Street
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

https://www.fairgrounds.cafe

(414) 231-3167

HOURS:
Monday-Friday – 6:30am-8pm
Saturday-Sunday – 7:30am-8pm

Follow Fairgrounds on INSTAGRAM
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