Colectivo Coffee – US Bank – 777 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Open from 6am to 5pm weekdays, closed weekends.

There was a man who, while job hunting, bought a cup of coffee here, at this branch of Colectivo Coffee that is in a downtown Milwaukee walkway mall, connecting the US Bank Building to the Westin Hotel and other downtown office buildings via skywalks, some of them open, public, and very, very welcome in the winter. He sat out in the public area by the big windows looking west and eavesdropped on office workers speaking in insane, inane, and hilarious jargon and began writing his “memoir,” The Golden Pineapple, soon to be stalled by the limits of time travel—and time for writing time travel nonsense. Then the unthinkable happened: he found himself being one of those very workers, dealing with Slack, Workday, Slaphappy, Spronk, etc. Fortunately, it was part-time, until he eventually got pulled in—as if life was nothing more than a bad Al Pacino impersonation.

There is a Bartolotta restaurant next door, DK (aka Downtown Kitchen) (aka Desperation King) that can feel like a Big Gulp in the desert one day and maggots in the dessert the next. There is a “convenience store” called Stein Ltd. that deserves its own review, if not a feature length documentary. If all of this wasn't here, would life be worse? Could it all be better? Does that need an answer? Is this a good version of Colectivo? Yelp reviewers either love love love it or were made to wait too long and... never again; that was no help. Office workers who have the choice of 18 varieties of coffee still come here daily, ritualistically. Office workers who have no coffee (there is such a thing in 2018) rely on this place for their very survival. It's not a big space, but you get your cup of coffee and your “cafe” is anywhere you can take it without getting arrested—whether it be your office, someone else's personal space, the window seat where The Golden Pineapple was born, the limited but always transitioning seating in the Colectivo itself, or even DK if you're in the mood for the anonymity of chaos. While the food choices at the DK are infinitely more than at the Colectivo, the music at the Colectivo, averaged out, is approximately 100 times better. Ultimately, thank the coffee gods for this place, because imagining it gone is like imagining a black hole—fun for SciFi, but with nine to five, not good.

Randy Russell 12.11.18