World's Largest Coffee Break? Catalano Square Draws Nearly 1,000 Downtown Workers

It may not be the world’s largest coffee break, but it sure did draw a crowd.

Eight hundred doughnuts in one hour? Milwaukee’s downtown workforce was more than up for the challenge this morning.

The “World’s Largest Coffee Break” drew nearly 1,000 people to Catalano Square on Tuesday morning. Coffee companies from the Historic Third Ward and surrounding area set up tents in the square and served their best brews for an hour, all free of charge. The line for Holey Moley Doughnuts and Coffee extended along the perimeter of the park, and nearly 800 doughnuts were gone in the first half hour.

World's Largest Coffee Break
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Johnson, Milwaukee Magazine

Despite the doughnut rush, the atmosphere at the event was laidback, just like a coffee break should be. Guests chatted with friends and colleagues as a pianist played softly in the background. With a light breeze and a wide selection of espressos and cold brews, the event was an ideal out-of-office start to the day.

The coffee break was presented by the Third Ward as part of the annual Downtown Employee Appreciation Week and has had great success since its debut in 2006. Ruth Lawson, marketing and communications director of the Third Ward, said although the event’s name is a bit of an exaggeration, the crowd is always pretty huge.

Jack Lemmon, a board member for the Third Ward, agreed that the coffee break was an audience favorite.

“This is such a fun event,” he said, gesturing to the guests milling from vendor to vendor. “You can never have too much energy.”

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Johnson, Milwaukee Magazine

Lawson said the cast of coffee companies has shifted over the years but stays fairly consistent. Stone Creek Coffee, whose downtown location is just outside the Third Ward, was a first-time vendor this year. Other participants included Anodyne, Valentine, Starbucks, Kickapoo, Pilcrow, Press and Hudson Café.

At around 10:00, members of Skylight Music Theatre entertained the crowd with a number from their upcoming production of Disney’s Newsies.



Elizabeth Johnson is an editorial intern at Milwaukee Magazine and a journalism major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.