Alterra has never been among my favorite java joints. The locally roasted, artisanal coffee tastes just fine, but the cafes (there are about nine in the state) leave a bit to be desired. They are urban (translation: not a whole lot of parking available), unique (translation: located in old factories, warehouses and pumping stations (or made to look like they are) with high ceilings and hard brick walls that serve to bounce all the noise around) and always overcrowded.
But mostly, Alterra has always seemed to me to be a place where one goes to be seen, more than to enjoy a chat with a friend over a cup of coffee.
Not my cup of
Back to the name change... Three years ago, the owners of Alterra struck a deal with a company called Mars to take the Alterra brand global, both for the actual coffee and the cafes. As part of the deal, the owners insisted the Wisconsin cafes would remain locally owned. They were given permission to use the Alterra name for three years after the sale date.
It's three years later, and the owners needed to come up with a name. The result?
It's supposed to be an homage to...wait for it...arty, funky buses that are used for local transportation in Latin America.
This being Wisconsin, it will be years before it's known by that name, years during which everyone will refer to it as "that place that used to be Alterra".
I'll stick with Anodyne and Stone Creek - also local roasters - whose names are easier to remember.