Valentine Coffee Roasters opens 'tasting room'

Company aims to educate community about coffee

July 23, 2013

For the past three years, staff with Valentine Coffee Roasters have ensured bleary-eyed visitors of the Tosa Farmers Market receive their morning caffeine fix each Saturday morning.

The popular vendor, which has served as a wholesaler to a variety of establishments across the Milwaukee area, recently opened a standalone store along Vliet Street one block outside of Wauwatosa's border with Milwaukee.

Described by company officials as a tasting room, the new facility opened a few weeks ago with little publicity. The store operates out of a space formerly occupied by a dry cleaner and just a few buildings west of Times Cinema.

'Greater purpose'

Marshall Harting, one of three partners behind the 4-year-old company, said the new tasting room is not a traditional coffee shop or café in the mold of Starbucks, Alterra or any other coffee shop in the Milwaukee area.

While the tasting room features indoor and outdoor seating, an espresso bar, a full coffee and tea menu and a limited number of pastries, Harting said the store serves a far greater purpose beyond being a place for customers to congregate while getting their caffeine jolt.

"This is an opportunity for us to educate people about coffee and the specificities involved in the process," Harting said. "We don't have any plans to replicate this tasting room across town."

Since the company's founding in 2009, Valentine Coffee Roasters has been supplying coffee to restaurants and cafes across the metropolitan area. More recently, the Valentine brand also has been stocked on shelves at all area Sendiks stores, Metcalfe's Sentry in Wauwatosa, Grasch Foods in Brookfield, V. Richard's in Brookfield and Groppi's Food Market in Bay View.

"We continue to grow from a wholesale standpoint," Harting said. "We don't see the wholesale side of our business slowing down any time soon."

Brewed by hand

In addition to providing the public with a quality cup of coffee, Harting said the tasting offers an opportunity for vendors to learn about Valentine's pour-over method of brewing coffee. The tasting room doubles as the company's official warehouse — a fact best demonstrated by the large coffee grinder that processes 20 pounds of coffee beans at a time.

The pour-over technique is a brewing method that requires a bit of work on the part of the barista and patience on the part of the customer, but it gives coffee aficionados an opportunity to enjoy a cup with fuller flavor because the taste comes straight from the grounds. Each cup is made by hand.

Future plans

Moving forward, Harting said he envisions Valentine continuing efforts to foster relationships with restaurants, cafes and retail stores throughout the area. There is a possibility the company could expand its presence outside the Milwaukee area, though he said such a maneuver is not in the company's immediate plans.

"We're taking it very slowly," Harting said. "We don't want to sacrifice the quality."

The company also plans to continue its presence at the Tosa and West Allis farmers markets going into the future.

In addition to Harting, Valentine Coffee Roasters is owned by Joe Gilsdorf and Robb Kashevarof.


WHAT: Valentine Coffee Roasters' new tasting room

WHERE: 5918 W. Vliet St.

HOURS: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday


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