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.
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Best coffee shops in Chicago
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.
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.
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.
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 scattered around Chicago, which vary in size and vibe. No matter the location, knowledgeable baristas keep it real with brisk service, perfect cappuccinos and straight-up drip alongside single-cup brew.
The 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.