Kiesling owners' super cute walk-up coffee shop Milwaukee Caffè is now open in Detroit


  • Courtesy of Milwaukee Caffè

Detroit's Milwaukee Junction neighborhood just got a bit more caffeinated thanks to the latest development from the owners of nearby cocktail bar Kiesling.

Located next to Kiesling at 447 E. Milwaukee St., the Italian-inspired multi-roaster coffee bar Milwaukee Caffè started serving on Thursday, offering a refined menu of pour-overs, cold brew, and espresso drinks.

Kiesling barback-turned-Milwaukee Caffè's operations manager, David Valdez, says opening day kicked his ass, in a good way.

“People have been cooped up and have been making their own coffee for months,” he says. “It probably feels pretty nice to have someone else make coffee for them.”

Valdez says they were all set to open in March but when COVID-19 hit, they decided to hold off. For now, the cafe, which offers coffee from Detroit roasters Anthology and Astro, is slinging brews exclusively through its walk-up window, and encourages visitors to make their orders online to reduce contact.

Owners and fiancés Carlo Liburdi and Ashley Davidson paired their respective architect and advertising backgrounds when designing Kiesling, which led them to build out the tiny space next door. Liburdi had purchased the building when the two had started dating, and, last year — inspired by a photo of the building dating back to the 1920s, which featured a storefront called Milwaukee Cafe — the couple chose to adopt the Italian spelling for their coffee-bar concept.

A 1920s photograph of the Milwaukee and Beubien intersection, which is now home to Kiesling and Milwaukee Caffè. - COURTESY OF CARLO LIBURDI AND ASHLEY DAVIDSON
  • Courtesy of Carlo Liburdi and Ashley Davidson
  • A 1920s photograph of the Milwaukee and Beubien intersection, which is now home to Kiesling and Milwaukee Caffè.
“We had reactivated the corner of Milwaukee and Beaubien for nightlife, but the area was still pretty empty during the day. The windows were all barred or bricked, or with security glass throughout the block,” Davidson says. “We wanted to create something visible that would invite people in during the day, but also send a message at night that this is in a neighborhood, one that we love and one where the community is just incredible.”

The light and airy space is minimalist in its design and boasts a curved counter that will, in due time, service customers. But with just 150 square-feet of space, the cafe will offer limited capacity for standing room, as the couple were inspired by standing-room-only cafes Davidson would frequent in Italy, where she went to school and lived for years, and where Carlo's parents immigrated to Detroit from.

  • Courtesy of Milwaukee Caffè

“A coffee shop is a great way to bring people together, and while I'd wanted to hold off and build a cafe in our creative studio — our next project — we felt this was the right place,” Davidson says.

Milwaukee Caffè is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. These hours, however, are subject to change.

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