Cozy Cafe Craze

Posted on March 1, 2023 by Grace Olson

Settle in for Sips, Bites and Community

Cafes, those casually cozy eateries that typically offer breakfast and lunch—not to mention coffee and tea—pop up often as centers of socialization and a place to relax or get work done. There are several great options in the Fox Cities, four of which are offering innovative items, elevated food and a cozy place to settle in:

il Bar Coffeehouse & Bistro

A “community-oriented coffeehouse & bistro with an international look and feel,” il Bistro Coffeehouse & Bistro in Kimberly encourages their customers to slow down and take a few moments to breathe.

“From our atmosphere, to our beverages, our food and pastry selections, many remark they feel almost as if they’ve been transported back to their favorite overseas coffeehouse,” owners Kell and Monica Bales, say. “Many of our selections are based on our international travels as well as Monica’s upbringing in Yauco, Puerto Rico. To date, we’ve heard about 10 different languages spoken; between Monica and I, we’ve studied several of them at some point including Italian, German, Russian, and we’re both fluent in Spanish. Many are surprised to find out we serve breakfast and lunch with a rotating special brunch menu on Sundays. Our guests share wonderful feedback continually.”

Philosophy in terms of the coffee/tea you offer: Coffee with a purpose! We personally know our roasters and where they source their coffee. For example, Scott Lee of Burning Bush owns his own coffee farm in Guatemala where he employs women escaping drug & sex trafficking; unfortunately, many of them can never leave due to threats against their lives. He gives them their own private farm plots to raise whatever they please, teaches classes on site, and operates a food pantry. A portion of his coffee sales funds much of the farm. Some of the other coffee comes from Rwanda where they employ women survivors of the myriad of wars.

Most popular coffee/tea options: Our most popular item is our coffee flight. Since our name is “il Bar,” which is really an Italian idiomatic phrase for “coffeehouse,” we thought we would have some fun with a play on words using “bar.” From some research, we launched the first coffee flights of their kind in the area; many have added them to their menus since (we just smile). We offer several varieties to include a hot flight and iced flight. During the Holidays and Winter we’ll offer a Hot Chocolate flight. During the summer we’ll offer a lemonade flight! As for coffees, we continually hear we have the best coffee in the area, especially from those who have traveled and lived overseas. We have also partnered with several coffee producers in Puerto Rico; many enjoy those flavors! As for teas, we use a variety of loose teas and steep them for our customers. Another fun addition last summer is Lotus plant-based energy with many fun flavors for unique creations.

What might surprise readers about il Bar Coffeehouse & Bistro? There are several videos on our Facebook page that talk about our coffee sourcing. We’re working on updating our website to tell those stories from first-hand perspectives, too. As far as any special techniques, I know each beverage is handcrafted and made with love. We’re always leveraging our employee’s feedback to create new flavors too!

Seth’s Coffee

A “gathering place where you can find others who find quality coffee, baked goods and conversation important,” Seth’s Coffee’s—in Little Chute and Appleton—aim has always been to be approachable for all.

“Those who may find themselves to be an intense coffee enthusiast all the way to someone who doesn’t like coffee at all but can appreciate a good pastry or smoothie,” owner Seth Lenz says. “Even in our drive-thrus our aim is to make people feel welcome and well taken care of, and known!”

Philosophy in terms of the coffee/tea you offer: It’s just gotta be a great product, even if it costs more. The longer answer: back when we were about to open our first shop, quality was a big deal to me. I blind-tasted coffees from several roasters, and Intelligentsia won out by a long shot. This was a shock to me, and a bit of a disappointment, because it was also the most expensive by a long shot. I chose to go with Intelligentsia because I wanted the quality to be noteworthy and unique, and it truly has been. We added Ruby Coffees to the lineup about 8 years ago because they also do an exemplary job with their roasting and sourcing of coffee beans. I’ve tried dozens and dozens of coffees from other roasters out there since opening, and have found none to rival what we already carry, so we will continue to do so. We also love Rishi Teas, and have been carrying their products for about 4 years now.

Most popular coffee/tea options: Our most popular drink overall would be a flavored latte—most often vanilla. Our traditional cappuccinos are also very popular. Our most popular tea would probably be peppermint or the Jasmine Green.

What might surprise readers about Seth’s Coffee? One thing we don’t advertise a lot of, but is very important to us, is to use the simplest ingredients possible when making our products. So this means we carry primarily organic flavor syrups with a much shorter—and less scary—ingredient list. For featured drinks we use house-made syrups with simple, clean ingredients. We also source as much as we can from local vendors like Lamer’s Dairy, Breadsmith breads, and meats from Haen Meats.

Tempest Coffee Collective


Tempest Coffee Collective in Appleton focuses on freshly prepared coffee and food, but it’s also in large part to their ambiance that makes it so welcoming to the community.

“Tempest is a specialty café and from scratch kitchen… our well-designed space is cozy and has an excellent view of the Fox River,” owner Tyler Lonadier, says.

Philosophy in terms of the coffee/tea you offer: We see brewing coffee and tea as something culinary. We stick to really specific recipes, carefully measuring temperature, keeping track of  time, and weighing everything to the gram.


We get our coffee from Viroqua, WI based roaster Wonderstate Coffee. They are one of the only roasters to operate fully from solar power, with an onsite solar field. Almost all of their coffee is organic. Our Tea is sourced from Chicago based importer, Spirit Tea. They supply tea harvested and processed in small batches, focusing on quality and equitable purchasing practices.

What might surprise readers about Tempest Coffee Collective? No tricks or special ingredients. We just try to brew fresh coffee, make fresh food and have a good time.

Moon Water Cafe

An “ever-evolving neighborhood boutique cafe,” Moon Water Cafe in Appleton doesn’t plan on  slowing down in terms of what it offers its guests, including an upcoming focus on Sunday brunch.

“(We’re) consistently challenging ourselves,” partner/part owner Matthew Rune, says. “Offering tea, pour over lattes, coffee and a variety of unique dishes. For the vegetarian, gluten-free and even the carnivore foodie alike, we have plenty of variety.

We are also launching Moon events celebrating the cycles of our moon and hosting plenty of other holiday and neighborhood events as well as private events by reservation.

Philosophy in terms of the coffee/tea you offer: We believe the best cup of coffee/tea is a fresh cup. Therefore, we do individual pour overs. Our espresso is ground fresh for every cup. As for tea, we have Harney & Son’s from NY, but we also use organic, small batch production houses as we believe in quality over quantity. Our sandwiches, soups, galettes and flatbreads not only are unique and individual in their flavor profiles among other cafes and restaurants in the area, but they are all made in house with fresh, organic ingredients and as best as we can locally sourced ingredients.

Most popular coffee/tea options: Mocha Latte is a popular one but then all our pour over lattes with choice of milk, almond, oat and dairy could be considered popular. (Our) popular items are our savory or sweet galettes. A galette is a rustic round pastry dough. Our savory galettes are herb infused with a cornmeal/flour dough filled with a variety of savory fillings and our sweet galettes have a buckwheat dough filled with delicious fresh fruit and coated with a fine layer of raw organic sugar accompanied by a dollop of sweet almost custard like cream. All our soups are made fresh and served with our in house fresh baked bread and then there’s the sandwiches that seem to almost eat themselves: Chickpea, Roasted Sweet Potato, Grilled Cheese, Chicken Salad and Turkey Bacon.

What might surprise readers about Moon Water Cafe? To my knowledge we are the only cafe serving galettes in Wisconsin! All our ingredients are organic, free range and fresh. We look to source everything locally like ACOCA coffee for our coffee beans, bread from Breadsmith here in Appleton, or microgreens and herbs from The Garden in Neenah.

Our sandwiches are unique with that homemade mom kind of feel and our soups are not only fresh, but they change constantly. One day a chicken curry, the next maybe an Italian meatball and maybe tomorrow you could find a Peruvian Inchicapi, which is a rich creamy Peruvian chicken and peanut soup. Honestly, if you’re looking for a nice little space where you’ll feel a little bit at home then Moon Water might be what you’re looking for.

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