I had driven by this coffee shop probably 100 times before I finally decided to stop. It was often a point of discussion with my friends as we drove down Water Street: “Is it pronounced like Alderaan? Like the home planet of Princess Leia?”
It’s safe to say, most of my friends are just as big of Star Wars nerds as I am, though. The debate was never 100 percent settled, but deep inside, we all believed it was a reference to our princess’s home planet.
I didn’t decide to stop until I discovered that it was in fact, a Star Wars reference. I was reading an article about Milwaukee native and Fall Out Boy’s drummer, Andy Hurley when I discovered his love for this coffee shop and the answer to my debate.
There was a sudden need to go and visit this nerd-inspired, coffee haven that I had driven by so many times. I took a chance one Sunday afternoon, and let me tell you, that stop was life-changing because this is one of the best coffee shops in Milwaukee.
There’s something about this small coffee shop, even from the outside, that you just feel relaxed walking in. The design is clean and calming. A huge metal “A” is at the back of the shop, giving off an industrial feel as soon as you walk in.
Throughout the times I’ve been to Alderaan, I’ve never experienced a serious rush. I’ve never waited in line, and I’ve always found a seat. One Saturday morning, I took my parents and grandpa there for a cup of coffee, and we were the only ones in there for most of the hour we were there.
I think this adds to the relaxing feeling that the shop gives off. At other coffee shops across Milwaukee, it seems like there’s a constant rush to get your coffee, find a seat and then never give up said seat. Alderaan doesn’t have slow service at all, but there isn’t this rushed feeling in the air. I feel like I can actually take my time and enjoy myself, even if I’m reading documents on the French Revolution.
The music is probably the ribbon on top of this wonderful gift. Throughout the days I’ve been there, a mix of blues and classic rock have played through the space. Normally, I study with my headphones jammed into my ears, but I’m headphone-free when I sit at Alderaan. It also helps my favorite genres of music are blues and classic rock, but that’s beside the point.
Give me a Cup
I can’t stop raving about the coffee here. I’m not very picky about my vanilla lattes, but I can tell a good one from a bad one. Upon my first sip at Alderaan, I was taken away by the rich flavor.
This is probably because they make their flavors in-house.
“You will not find any prepackaged flavor syrups here,” according to Alderaan’s website. “We believe in making a few amazing flavors in-house from scratch.”
The coffee was strong and delicious. I drained my cup, only a few minutes into my homework session. I was tempted to buy a second, but I knew my bank account would not like that idea.
If I’m going to be picky about any drink, though, it’s a mocha. After drinking them non-stop when I was a freshman in college, I really got sick of the chocolatey taste. My best friend had ordered one while we were there once, and I cannot lie when I said it was the best mocha I ever had.
I remember after my best friend took a sip, he looked at me, shocked by how good it was. I swore I was never going to get a basic mocha again, but I will next time I’m at Alderaan.
The baristas have also been extremely friendly there. Sometimes, it’s intimidating trying out a new coffee shop, but when I first came here, the baristas were so nice. They asked if it was my first time, got me started on their punch card, and I was all set. I’ve also heard the baristas recommending different drinks to others, and they seem knowledgeable about all of their drinks.
A very Wisconsin aspect of this coffee shop is that you can also buy beer here. Coffee in the morning and beer in the afternoon? I think that’s a match made in heaven.
Alderaan sits at a growing part of Water Street, before the main strip of bars that welcome you into the downtown area. Across the street from the North End Apartments, the area around Alderaan is growing like no other. When you’re sitting by the window, you can watch a lot of dogs who are excited to be walked in the area, which is an unexpected bonus.
Alderaan is also really accessible by bus. Get on the Green Line and get off at Water and Pleasant, and you’re right there. This makes it really easy to reach for UWM and MSOE students as well.
Street parking is pretty much the only thing you’re going to get around here. Luckily, I’ve never had a problem with parking close by. The farthest I’ve had to park was up a block, but it’s really not bad. Most of the street parking isn’t metered, which is always a plus.
Who doesn’t like a free cup of coffee? Luckily, Alderaan is one of those generous coffee shops that have a punch card system!
Alderaan is easily in my top five favorite coffee shops in Milwaukee, if not my number one. From the vibe to the coffee, it literally doesn’t get much better than this. While I wish there was a parking lot, I honestly understand that the city poses challenges to parking, and it’s really not awful here. If you ever find yourself free one Sunday afternoon, do yourself a favor and head over to Water Street and get yourself a mocha at Alderaan. Oh, and may the force be with you while you’re there.
1560 N Water St.
Monday – Friday 6 a.m. to 6 pm.
Saturday – Sunday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.