Mother Fool's Coffee House

Madison, Wisconsin


Image for Dave Rolsky

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This is a nice hippy/punk coffee shop with great vegan options. All the desserts are vegan, they have a decent selection of loose leaf tea, and there's no extra charge for soy milk in your drink.

They have a good mix of couches, arm chairs, and more standard tables, so it's a great place to hang out for a couple of hours.

Image for Ali Seiter

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Frankly, anywhere on the East Side of Madison is a wonderful place in my opinion, and Mother Fool's Coffeehouse is verily in keeping with my mentality. The mismatched couches and chairs, graffitied wall, and classic Madison hippie baristas all contribute to give Mother Fool's the warm and fun atmosphere of the East Side.

Food and drink-wise, Mother Fool's always has a bakery case stuffed full of vegan cupcakes, cookies, tarts, pastries, bread rolls, and my favorite sun-dried tomato bread. They also have a vegan soup-of-the-day and all their drinks can be made with soy milk at no extra cost. A welcoming, delicious, and vegan-friendly cafe fit for the East Side.

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I really love Mother Fools. They have a great variety of teas (my stomach and coffee don't mix) and vegan baked goods (from East Side Ovens in Milwaukee). If you are a coffee drinker the soy milk is no extra cost. I wouldn't really count on going here for a meal (they do usually have an excellent soup option (created by the owner of the Green Owl) - always vegan), but great for breakfast or a late night snack. I really do like the atmosphere and their ever changing art displays. They also periodically have live music and other events and I've heard some fabulous music there. If you are not in the mood for music in the evening you may want to check their website in advance to see whats happening there.

Image for vaxjo

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I went looking for some light breakfast. The menu board says "all food is vegan". "This is great", I thought, even though their selection wasn't very large. I ordered a bagel with cream cheese. OOPS. The cream cheese isn't vegan. The counter staff pointed to a small, barely legible note next to the aforementioned declaration which read "except the cream cheese". Okay, they have apparently never heard of Tofutti. Fine. I told them I'd be happy with butter/margarine on my bagel. OOPS. That isn't vegan, either! It was at this point that I apologized for wasting their time and left.

It's probably a fine coffee shop, though, as long as you aren't hungry.

Image for conde.kedar

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Mother Fool's has a cool, edgy, artistic vibe and is also quite cozy. Maybe it's a little bit too cozy, as the place is small and single people tend to sprawl out with laptops, hunker-down for hours and take up tables designed for two or more people.

As such, my friend and I had a hard time finding a place to sit down even though the place wasn't busy by any means.

We eventually found a table tucked in a back nook, separated from the main room. The lighting needs improvement back there, as each table has a tiny desk lamp with a mega-high-wattage CFL bulb, which are blinding in tight, confined spaces like that. Kudos for using CFLs, but we had to put our lamp on the floor because it was too bright at eye-level, but shutting it off would have put us in the dark.

I liked that they had loose-leaf teas. Their baked goods are all vegan and we tried their gingerbread cookie and also a cranberry scone. The cookie was decent, but nothing spectacular. The scone was oily, soft and completely under-baked, but still tasted okay, oddly enough. What I liked best were the prices: the baked goods maxed out at $2 each, with most hovering around $1.50-$1.90. That's cheap.

Nice atmosphere and nice prices at Mother Fool's. It just needs more space and better lighting. The baked goods could use a quality upgrade, but at least they're inexpensive.

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