My favorite coffee shops in Madison

Coffee was not part of my life before I came to Madison 15 years ago. (Neither was beer, by the way.) I used to drink green tea almost every day since 3rd grade. Somehow I started to drink more coffee since my second year here in Madison, not only because of the flavor but also because I enjoy going to coffee shops. As a graduate student, I found that I could get more things done at a coffee shop than in my apartment. I really enjoy the atmosphere at some local coffee shops here in Madison, and I never like Starbucks.

The place I visited most often was Indie Coffee on Regent St. Their seats are not the most comfortable, but their atmosphere is the best in my opinion. Other than writing the majority of my dissertation there, it’s the place I would go if I wanted to think or dream about some new ideas, especially for photography. Some friends of mine would say their latte is the best in town, but I could not commend on that because I only drink black coffee.

Indie Coffee © Ting-Li Lin 2013

Since moving to the west side of Madison about two years ago, True Coffee in Fitchburg has become one of my favorites. I like their coffee, and they have a small area with toys and a chalkboard, which is great for families with young kids. The openness of their space, however, is less ideal to me, and I can’t always find “my corner” to work on my stuff. Sometimes I was wondering, or most precisely, dreaming about “Why not opening a coffee shop on my own so that I can make everything to my like and I can sit in there all day long without paying a dine?” Actually, before I started Snowforest, I was thinking to open a coffee shop. It was the closure of Electric Earth Cafe that brought me back to earth. Just a month ago I learned that the Froth House on Allen St had a new owner in June this year but is now closed and for sale. Had Snowforest been a coffee shop, it would have probably been closed by now.

True Coffee © Ting-Li Lin 2011

Then to my surprise a few weeks ago, 5th Element Coffee on old University Ave offers something I was hoping to make available in Madison if I was to open a coffee shop, that is, cold brew coffee. I used to have a small cold brew system at home, and I really love the taste of cold brew coffee. Now it’s available at 5th Element Coffee! It’s not inexpensive though. They also have make-to-order manual drip coffee, which makes me feel like I was in Japan. Another thing I’d love to see is vacuum (siphon) brew coffee, which is available almost everywhere in Taiwan. But I guess I’m asking too much.

5th Element Coffee © Ting-Li Lin 2015

This modern yet classic coffee shop, built by OPN Architects, becomes an instant favorite of mine. I can’t wait to see how their atmosphere evolves in the coming years.

5th Element Coffee © Ting-Li Lin 2015

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