Best coffee shops in Chicago for java, espresso and more

Whether you want a quick cup of drip coffee, pour-over, Chemex, cappuccino or latte, try one of the best coffee shops in Chicago.

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  • Photograph: Jeremy Bolen

    Bridgeport Coffee House

  • Photograph: Braden Nesin

    Bow Truss Coffee

  • Caffe Streets

  • Chava Cafe

  • Photograph: Erica Gannett

    Gaslight Coffee Roasters

  • Photograph: Stephanie Anderson

    Best Local Coffee Roaster winner: Intelligentsia

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Ipsento coffee

  • Metropolis Coffee Company

  • Photograph: Wendell Remington

    Star Lounge

Photograph: Jeremy Bolen

Bridgeport Coffee House

It wasn't until we compiled this list that we realized what a great coffee city Chicago is. There are numerous spots that roast their own beans, places for coffee nerds and places to grab a cup of brew on the way to work. Whether you want a stalwart like Intelligentsia, which started the coffee craze and now has seven locations in Chicago, or a newcomer like Gaslight, where coffee comes with Midwest charcuterie and cheeses, you won't go wrong at one of the best coffee shops in Chicago.


RECOMMENDED: Full list of the best Chicago restaurants


Bow Truss

  • Price band: 1/4

This storefront is not, in many ways, a coffeehouse. There are no comfy couches, no Wi-Fi, and more than half the room is devoted to an active, open-view roasting facility, where coffee aficionados roast Bow Truss beans for owner Phil Tadros’s other cafés and restaurant clients. Yet the knowledgeable barista at the small coffee bar in the front serves drip and pour-over coffee, plus all manner of espresso beverages and a tea program. A single, communal table seems as well suited for a morning alone as to a conversation with a stranger. So, funny enough, it’s a lovely little coffeehouse.

  1. 2934 N Broadway, (between Oakdale and Wellington Aves)
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Bridgeport Coffee House

  • Price band: 1/4

The coffee-roasting operation on the corner of Morgan and 31st Street is a point of pride for Bridgeport and a source of jealousy for almost every other neighborhood. Housed in a prototypically warm-toned, wood-heavy coffeehouse (only without the fleabag couches and drum-circle vibe), Bridgeport Coffee sets itself apart by roasting its own beans and brewing them with levels of respect usually reserved for presidents. The pour-over here is a revelation—bright and clean and smooth. The fact that the expert staff and comfortable digs make you want to spend the day in the place is just a bonus.

  1. 3101 S Morgan St, (at 31st St)
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Caffé Streets

  • Price band: 1/4

Proving that not every coffee shop must take its inspiration from Seattle in the ’90s, Caffé Streets has the look of a European coffee bar and the coffee expertise to match. The staff is comfortable talking beans (the selection of which changes weekly) and brewing styles, such as pour-over, Chemex and siphon. Housemade pastries are also available, including scones and croissants.

  1. 1750 W Division St, (between Hermitage Ave and Wood St)
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Ch'ava

  • Price band: 1/4

The young owners of Ch’ava have taken an awkwardly shaped, whitewashed space and turned it into a coffee shop of serious distinction. It begins with the service, which is friendly and usually geeked out over the coffees of the day—a rotating menu of beans that are brewed per cup with a Clover machine. What, you thought the Clover craze was over? You’re not wrong—when Starbucks bought the company that makes the exacting, temperature-controlled machines, they all but disappeared from indie shops. But Ch’ava’s coffee makes a good argument as to why the machine’s still relevant: It’s clean and focused, with a mellow body and seamless expression of flavors ranging from fruity to earthy to bright. Chances are you’ll get geeked out on it, too.

  1. 4656 N Clark St, (at Leland Ave)
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Gaslight Coffee Roasters

  • Price band: 1/4

Owners Tristan Coulter and Zak Rye have taken their experience in the local coffee trade (both worked for Metropolis) and applied it to a rustic-hipster aesthetic (think reclaimed wood, vintage lanterns and requisite taxidermy). The space is quite nice for sipping a cup of pour-over coffee, made either from beans roasted in-house or from a rotating roster of guest roasters. Should all that caffeine need balancing, platters of Smoking Goose charcuterie, house-pickled veggies and Marion Street cheeses make for a solid snack.

  1. 2385 N Milwaukee Ave, (at Fullerton Ave)
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Intelligentsia Coffee

  • Price band: 1/4

This local coffee chain is all grown up, with outposts across the country, including coffee bars in L.A. and a “lab” in Manhattan. Back home where it all started in 1995, there are now seven locations in Chicago and baristas keep it real with brisk service, perfect cappuccinos and straight-up drip alongside single-cup brew. Basic pastries are available, but most are there for non-Starbucks fuel.

  1. 3123 N Broadway, (between Barry Ave and Briar Pl)
More info

Ipsento

  • Price band: 1/4

The new owners of this neighborhood coffee shop seem to have ambitions far larger than the tiny (and seemingly unfinished) space would imply. Baristas are superfriendly, direct-trade coffee is roasted in-house, and sandwiches are named after storytellers. Options like the Garrison Keillor (turkey, cheddar, avocado, apple and honey mustard on wheat) are basic and straightforward, as are the lattes, but the genuine warmth of the place is more uncommon.

  1. 2035 N Western Ave, (at Dickens Ave)
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Metropolis Coffee Company

  • Price band: 1/4

Outstanding sums up this delicious coffee roastery and hangout for Edgewater residents and Loyola students. In addition to serving a mean cup of java, MCC also offers premium-grade teas and a small, but tasty, café menu. Plug in the laptop, kick back and check out some of the other coffee-swilling cuties.

  1. 1039 W Granville Ave, (at Kenmore Ave)
More info

Star Lounge

  • Price band: 1/4

Jesse Diaz has turned this unassuming West Town café into a coffee destination. Sidle up to the “bar” for a taste of Dark Matter coffee, which is roasted in eight-pound batches above the café in unusual flavor profiles that have caught the attention of area restaurants, including Alinea. Diaz’s unconventional roasting approach extends to iced coffee, which achieves its delicate flavor using heat-extraction rather than trendy cold-brewing. No clue what we’re talking about? One of the veteran baristas behind the bar can walk you through it.

  1. 2521 W Chicago Ave, (between Campbell and Maplewood Aves)
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The Wormhole

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

To get Wicker Park excited about another coffee shop, you’d have to do something pretty crazy. Like, say, install a DeLorean in the front of the store. Okay, Wormhole, you win. So now that this time-travel-themed coffee shop has the neighborhood’s attention, what else is going on here? A small selection of baked goods from Fritz Pastry (including doughnuts!); Cheerios and other assorted cereals; and some very serious baristas, who use beans from a variety of cult roasters and who cold-brew the strongest iced coffee that’s ever graced our parched, caffeine-starved lips.

  1. 1462 N Milwaukee Ave, (between Evergreen Ave and Honore St)
More info


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