We tried espresso at 10 local coffee shops in Madison, WI

Oh, the things we would do for an at-home setup like this. | Photo by @bradburyscoffee

This month, we issued ourselves a challenge: Try the same drink at 10 different local coffee shops. We decided to take it a step further and issue some Madison java superlatives

For our control drink in this experiment, we picked a shot of espresso — truthfully, because it’s Editor Ryan’s “panic drink.” You know the one. You’re at the counter with a line forming, so you spit out your go-to drink of choice. For this reason, we had to step out of our comfort zone just a little + at least try it at various rad spots across the 608.

And the roastery recognition goes to…

☕ Back to basics

Bradbury’s Coffee, 127 N. Hamilton St. | When it comes to a simple but quality shot of espresso, it’s hard to beat a classic like Bradbury’s. The downtown shop located just a block from the Wisconsin State Capitol offers an accessible, quick way to get a caffeine fix.

☕ Best for dog spotting

Wonderstate Coffee, 27 W. Main St. | The centrally located coffee house sees more foot traffic than almost any other cafe in town — much of which brings Fido along for the java run. Grab a stool by the window and watch four-legged friends live their best lives trotting around the Capitol Square.

☕ For the cause

Fair Trade Coffee, 418 State St. | Feel good knowing you’re supporting sustainable coffee practices by patronizing a 100% fair trade certified, organic, single-origin java shop. If it wasn’t going to be a shot of espresso, we highly recommend the Turkish latte.

☕ Lunch it up

Ancora Cafe + Bakery, 107 King St. | Don’t sacrifice good food for good coffee. Ancora’s eclectic mix of sweet and savory plates makes for a great brunch or lunch destination in the heart of the downtown area. 

Stock up on beans

Colectivo, 2530 Monroe St. | Shop dozens of blends sure to please any coffee palette, or shake it up with a coffee subscription to try a little bit of everything Colectivo has to offer.

☕ With a twist

Cafe Domestique, 1408 Williamson St. | Connected to The Cargo Bike Shop, the cafe is a cycling-inspired caffeine haven. Stop in to grab a shot of espresso and peruse the bike shop or expand your horizons with interesting concoctions like the ube latte or espresso tonic.

☕ Cozy up with a cup

Mother Fool’s Coffeehouse, 1101 Williamson St. | This Willy Street boho-chic coffee shop is a perfect venue to host an afternoon of espresso accompanied by a good book. Lounge and snack on vegan + other bites sourced from local Madison eateries.

☕ Love your latte

Johnson Public House, 908 E Johnson St. | Half of the coffee experience is where you drink it. Our personal choice for a venue to grab a shot of espresso? The Public House — there’s something about the truly down-to-earth atmosphere that makes sipping espresso that much sweeter. Plus, check out East Johnson Family Restaurant for a bite to eat.

☕ Shop around

Barriques, 1825 Monroe St. | Start your morning with something strong, but leave the shop with something even stronger. Learn about local wines, shop from a bespoke collection, or sign up for a monthly wine subscription.

☕ Vacation appeal

Lakeside St. Coffee House, 402 W. Lakeside St. | Nothing says vacation time like a coffee on the beach. Grab a seat on the patio overlooking Monona Bay or take your shot to-go and walk down to Bernie’s Beach Park.