The best coffee shops in Chicago

The best coffee shops in Chicago include neighborhood joints and downtown cafes that serve excellent coffee drinks

Caffe Streets is one of the best coffee shops in Chicago.

It wasn't until we compiled this list that we realized what a great coffee city Chicago is. There are numerous spots that appeal to coffee nerds and other places to just grab a cup on the way to work. Whether you want a spot in the Loop, a neighborhood joint in Logan Square or a Bridgeport spot that roasts its own beans, you won't go wrong at any of the best coffee shops in Chicago.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of the best Chicago restaurants

Best coffee shops in Chicago

Bow Truss

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.

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Boystown

Bridgeport Coffee House

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.

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Bridgeport

Caffé Streets

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.

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Wicker Park

Gaslight Coffee Roasters

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.

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Logan Square

Intelligentsia Coffee

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.

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Lakeview

Ipsento

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.

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Bucktown

La Colombe

The Philadelphia equivalent to Intelligentsia opened its first Chicago café quietly (though the location, across the street from a Starbucks, certainly sent a message). Inside the café, things remain pretty chill: The serene, underdecorated room holds maybe 25 people, who sip satisfying cups of coffee (roasted in Philly) and pick at pastries from Alliance Bakery. 

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West Loop

Metropolis Coffee Company

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.

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Edgewater

Star Lounge

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.

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West Town

The Wormhole

Critics' pick

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.

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Wicker Park

Comments

2 comments
Jamie K
Jamie K

Gaaaaaah how did La Colombe not make the cut?!?!?!  

Joseph G
Joseph G

I'm sure many excellent shops didn't make the list, but my spirit of justice compels me to mention Sol Cafe in Rogers Park. I know that everyone thinks that Rogers Park might as well be Siberia, but over the past year, Sol has managed to create an inclusive spot that truly integrates the local community while still maintaing an ultra-high standard for quality coffee and food.