Ever wished that you could admire the plant life at Garfield Park Conservatory with a cup of coffee in hand? You can this winter thanks to Monday Coffee Co., a coffee stand that’s popping up in the Conservatory—and providing a much-needed jolt of caffeine to the West Side—for three days a week through the end of February.
Located near the sunny back wall of Horticulture Hall, Monday Coffee sells a menu of single-origin coffee, espresso drinks, tea, kombucha and pastries from 10am to 2pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. It’s the conservatory’s first-ever coffee pop-up and one of the only places to get a cup of coffee in the surrounding Garfield Park area.
Amanda Christine Harth and Felton Kizer are keenly aware of the void they've filled, both in the neighborhood and the coffee industry. The two friends started Monday Coffee Co. in October 2020 after noticing Chicago’s shortage of Black-owned coffee brands, a representation issue they say felt particularly glaring given coffee’s origins in Ethiopia, and the fact beans are farmed and produced in countries within Africa, Asia and Central and South America. With Monday Coffee, they aspired to create a coffee company that emphasizes community and creates space for people of color to hang out over a cup of coffee.
“Representation is super important to us when it comes to this coffee company,” Harth says. “A lot of the time, it’s non-Black people who run these coffee spaces and reap all the benefits and the money.”
Garfield Park Conservatory is Monday Coffee’s third pop-up residency (following Retreat at Currency Exchange, which ended in January, and an ongoing spot at Soho House). Every space is different, Harth and Kizer explain, but in Garfield Park, customers seem especially eager to have a coffee option in the conservatory—whether they’re just visiting to look at plants or they’re neighborhood residents excited to finally have a coffee shop nearby.
“People are literally just like, ‘I was listening to such-and-such and found out that y’all were here, I hurled myself across the street just to come get coffee,’’ Kizer says.
It helps that the coffee in question is good enough to be destination-worthy. Harth and Kizer source their single-origin beans from Littlefoot Coffee Roasters in Grand Rapids, which they turn into extra-smooth cold brew—available black or in flavor combinations like “Good Day,” a concoction made with oat milk and lavender syrup—along with drip coffee and espresso drinks. Everything else on the menu is Chicago-based: Non-coffee drinkers can order tea blends from Kizer’s tea company, Le Fleur–Nola, or kombucha from Komunity Kombucha; plus, a selection of croissants, bagels, brownies and other pastries are available from Dan the Baker (who also provides the baked goods at Monday Coffee’s Soho House pop-up) and chef Lisa Shaw.
Though the Monday Coffee pop-up is currently temporary, there are positive signs ahead for Garfield Park’s coffee future. Aside from the near-term goal of roasting their own coffee beans by the end of 2022, Harth and Kizer hope to open a public-facing coffee lab somewhere in the neighborhood where aspiring coffee business owners will be able to learn and take classes, and customers can come to hang out with a drink or pick up beans.
“We want to have a space where we can play, but also invite the public to come hang out with us and play as well,” Kizer says.
In the meantime, you can visit Monday Coffee in Garfield Park Conservatory’s Horticulture Hall from 10am–2pm Friday–Sunday through February 28 (just remember to make a free, timed reservation on the conservatory’s website beforehand). Take a look at the pop-up’s verdant coffee set-up below.