Coffee goes way beyond the regular grind in this lab and cocktail bar blend

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Started in Door County but now in Milwaukee, Discourse filters through the bland to create a broad combination of aromas, tastes, raised eyebrows and happy palates.

Ryan Castelaz had his revelation while watching Netflix.

The New Berlin native grew up surrounded by cafes and Folgers restaurant chains, viewing food and drink not as something that could be used for artistic expression but rather as a way to fuel people throughout of their day. It wasn’t until college, where he trained as an opera singer or music teacher, that he fell in love with artisan coffee – “out of necessity”, he said.

After college, Castelaz — for the first time without music as a constant creative outlet in his life — moved to Door County and found himself watching the cooking show “Chef’s Table,” in which chefs from world class demonstrate while sharing their stories.

That’s when things clicked. Castelaz realized he could combine his love for high quality coffee with his need to create art, and in 2017 he opened Discourse Coffee, “a smashing fusion between a café and an artisanal cocktail bar”. who moved to Milwaukee last year.

“Coffee has been the thing you do for so long in the way of what you do,” Castelaz said. “We really want coffee at Discourse to be what you do.”

What Winter Forget drink at Discourse Coffee, a blend of espresso, honey chai, chipotle cocoa bitters, burnt orange peel, and more. (Photo courtesy of Discourse Coffee/Matt Sampson)

Discourse brings mad scientist coffee chemistry to the fore, incorporating ingredients ranging from mashed sweet potatoes to a combination of pork fat and caramel or vacuum-brewed coffee to create unique experiences using so many flavors , tastes and sensations as possible. The goal, Castelaz said, is to tell stories with every cup he serves from his ever-rotating drinks menu.

Discourse Coffee COO Sean Liu, left, and owner Ryan Castelaz bring an artisanal cocktail bar-style approach to their mad scientist coffee creations. (Photo by Jonathon Sadowski)

One of Castelaz’s favorite drinks ever developed by Discourse – and one of the most emblematic of its desire to go far beyond the confines of traditional coffee – was the Holy Pin, which was part of a classic menu on the theme of the film and inspired by “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. ”

Castelaz wondered what sort of liquid the brave Knights of the Round Table might have found inside the Grail if they had indeed found it.

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His answer: The Holy Pin started with a Lambrusco simulated wine base using grape juice, grape skins, French oak and different roots; he combined this with sous vide coffee and smoked vanilla, topping it with a frozen “sacred hand grenade” made from coconut water. The drink was served on a platform surrounded by elderberries, moss and dry ice.

The Holy Pin coffee drink from Speech Coffee, inspired by “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. The creation mixed faux Lambrusco wine with sous vide coffee and coconut water “iced pomegranate” and was served on a platform decorated with moss and elderberries. (Photo courtesy of Discourse Coffee/Allison Evans)

“Really what we do is we build stories and we use the principles of taste, presentation, aroma and texture to tell that story,” Castelaz said. “And so, what we’re looking for really depends on the story we’re telling.”

The shop took off after a report on the popular “Wisconsin Foodie,” and Discourse has become a staple for tourists flocking to Door County. In 2021, Castelaz decided it was time to bring Discourse to a wider market, so he moved the business to Milwaukee, where he hosted pop-up events until recently landing a permanent spot in the collection of Crossroads Collective micro-restaurants in the city.

The Parisian artisanal coffee drink at Discourse Coffee, a blend of matcha tea, blueberry, mango, passion fruit and lime, topped with lime zest and a blackberry. (Photo by Jonathon Sadowski)

Discourse received a warm welcome to its new home, Castelaz said.

“I think people really like it, because they can feel the passion, they can feel the story, they can feel the care that we put into these drinks,” he said.

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