Discourse Coffee

The sign hanging outside Discourse Coffee in Sister Bay, Door County.If you haven’t worked it out already, I’m in America, the Midwest to be precise, taking a long road trip that began in Chicago, with me working my way up the west coast of Lake Michigan, stopping at Kickapoo Coffee in Milwaukee. Today’s Coffee Spot is from Door County, the peninsular that sticks out into the lake north/east of Green Bay. I went there to enjoy the countryside and the lake views, but much like Flagstaff earlier in the year, I found great coffee as well, this time in the shape of Discourse Coffee, which subtitles itself “a liquid workshop”.

Run by the friendly and enthusiastic Ryan since July 2017, Discourse will take you on a journey through coffee. As well as offering a standard(ish) espresso-based menu from the single-group Slayer on the counter, there’s batch-brew and pour-over using the innovative Phoenix 70 dripper from Saint Anthony Industries. However, the fun’s only just starting, since Discourse offers a regularly-changing cast of latte-based drinks with some very interesting flavour combinations. All this is served in a lovely, cosy, basement-like space that you really have to seek out, so the only people who are there are those who really want to be.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On Country Walk Drive, south of Sister Bay, you'll find this parade of shops.
  • That was the view approaching from Route 42, while this is the other way, from Route 57.
  • Either way, head for this row of shops at the back, but then go around to the side.
  • This is the view if you go to the right. There's another row of shops behind the first...
  • ... while opposite them, under the first row of shops, is where you'll find Discourse.
  • It's on the lower level, roughly in the middle...
  • ... with the nice, big sign a real giveaway.
  • This is the view approaching from the right. Look out for the comfy chairs!
  • Stepping inisde, the counter is off to the right...
  • ... with the bulk of the seating off to the left.
  • There's a long, narrow communal table at the front...
  • ... with this large, red sofa against the wall, plus a pair of round armchairs.
  • Meanwhile, along the left-hand side of the counter are four high bar chairs.
  • The view from the back, looking towards the front...
  • ... and the communal table.
  • Finally, there's a narrow, three-person bar with more high chairs to the right of the door.
  • At the far end, you'll find this selection of craft chocolate for sale...
  • ... while there are other bits and pieces around, including this cold brew aparatus...
  • ... and a rather impressive sound system!
  • Meanwhile, the walls are lined with works of art, although my favourite by far is this...
  • ... relief map of South America. Made of beans, the green ones mark coffee growing areas.
  • There are plenty of light bulbs given Discourse's subterranean location.
  • Naturally I was fascinated.
  • Most of them were in cages...
  • ... but the occasional one was let out on its own.
  • There's a small selection of cake on the corner of the counter, with the coffee part...
  • ... off to the right, facing front. There's an EK-43 grinder for the pour-over...
  • ... made using these open-sided Phoenix 70 coffee drippers.
  • At the far end is the single-group Slayer espresso machine and its grinder.
  • Copies of the menu are on the counter...
  • ... with the front page dedicated to Discourse's signature drinks...
  • ... with larger drinks on the second page.
  • The third page looks more familiar with the current selection of beans...
  • ... while the fourth page has a fairly standard coffee menu.
  • The final page is tea and bagels.
  • I started off with a cortado, made with the Storyteller blend. After that...
  • ... the owner, Ryan, made a single-origin espresso served in an hour-glass shaped cup...
  • ... on a Door County slate, with a spoon made of horn.
  • Half way through drinking it, he switched the cup for a cylindrical one.
  • Finally, he saw me off with a Moonwater, the first of the signature lattes.
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That I found Discourse Coffee is entirely down to a tip-off from Dan of Uncommon Grounds Specialty Roaster in Appleton. Without that knowledge, I never would have stumbled across it. Even then, despite knowing that it was there, the actual coffee shop took some finding. Discourse is in the Country Walk Drive mall in Sister Bay, a delightful lakeside town on the western (Green Bay) side of the Door County peninsular.

The mall consists of a large parking lot, with a supermarket to the right, plus two rows of shops which look rather like a terraced cabins, one on the left, the other at the back. Start here, but rather than heading to one of the shops facing the parking lot, instead go around either side, where you’ll find steps leading down to a second row of shops facing the first across an open, grassy space with several large trees. Ignoring those, turn back on yourself to face the car park where you’ll find a two-tiered row of shops, behind the shops bordering the car park. Here, roughly in the middle of the bottom row, is Discourse, given away by its prominent sign and a row of three comfy chairs to the left of the door.

This slightly subterranean location gives Discourse a cosy, basement-like feel, aided by a low ceiling, although there is a pair of windows to the left of the door. The left-hand side of Discourse is mostly seating, while the right’s the domain of the counter, although it’s set back a little, leaving space for a narrow three-person bar against the front wall, to the right of the door, seating provided by comfortable, swivelling bar chairs.

Four more of these chairs line the left-hand side of the counter, an amazing, wooden affair, while the rest of seating is off to the left. There’s a six-person communal table at the front, then, at the back, a massive, two-piece red couch runs along the left-hand wall, faced by two blue armchairs across a low coffee table.

The coffee, however, is the main draw. Milwaukee’s Pilcrow Coffee acts as the house-roaster, with its Storyteller blend on espresso and pour-over, where it’s joined by three single-origins from various roasters. The coffees are changed on a weekly basis, with the guest roaster changing every month. There’s also a rotating option on batch-brew.

I started off with a cortado, the Storyteller going really well with milk, to produce a rich, biscuit-like flavour. After Ryan and I got chatting, he made me a shot of a washed Ethiopian Sidamo from Pilcrow, served in an hourglass shaped pottery cup on a Door Country slate tray, with a horn spoon. This was a touch too acidic for my tastes, although not unpleasantly so. However, before I could finish it, Ryan produced a cylindrical pottery cup which he transferred the rest of the espresso into. This had an immediate impact on the flavour, accentuating the sweetness, producing a much more favourable impression on me!

By now it was well past closing time, but Ryan insisted on making me a Moonwater Latte. This is one of Discourse’s signature drinks, in this case a latte with honey, cinnamon, pepper and Applewood smoked sea salt. The Moonwater is always on the menu, but the other drinks regularly change, with two new drinks coming on the menu each week.

Regular readers will know that this is absolutely not my thing, but even I had to admit that it was lovely, less coffee and more dessert in a cup, a delightfully smooth, sweet drink offset with the touch of cinnamon. Divine.

December 2018: Discourse Coffee has won the 2018 Most Passionate About Coffee Award.

November 2019: Discourse Coffee is now closed for the season and will re-open in May 2020.

www.discoursecoffee.com +1 414-405-0370
Monday 08:00 – 14:00 Roaster Pilcrow + Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday CLOSED Seating Table, Sofa, Counter, Bar; Comfy Chairs (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 14:00 Food Bagels, Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 14:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 14:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 14:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 08:00 – 14:00 Power Limited
Chain No Visits 7th September 2018

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3 thoughts on “Discourse Coffee

  1. Pingback: Uncommon Grounds Specialty Roaster | Brian's Coffee Spot

  2. Pingback: London Coffee Festival 2019: Coffee Experiences | Brian's Coffee Spot

  3. Pingback: 2019 Awards – Most Passionate About Coffee | Brian's Coffee Spot

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