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Four Letter Word
Photograph: Jude Goergen Four Letter Word

The 22 best coffee shops in Chicago

Get your caffeine fix at the finest coffee shops in Chicago

By Morgan Olsen

Chicago doesn't get nearly enough credit for its coffee scene. The city is dotted with dedicated roasteries, quaint cafés and posh tasting bars—all of which specialize in keeping Chicagoans caffeinated. The best coffee shops in Chicago double as community spaces that bring together neighborhoods and offer some of the finest breakfast in Chicago to boot. They range from big-name roasters you'll find at the grocery store to small, family-owned operations. Whether you're craving a decked-out latte or a cup of coffee—hold the cream and the sugar—the best coffee shops in Chicago have you covered all year. Before you start looking for things to do in Chicago this weekend, fuel up at a local coffee shop first.

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Best coffee shops in Chicago

Metric Coffee
Photograph: Chris Hershman

1. Metric Coffee Co.

Restaurants Coffee shops United Center

Dreamed into existence by Caffe Streets owner Darko Arandjelovic and former Intelligentsia roasting manager Xavier Alexander, Metric Coffee is undeniably cool. The modern, public-facing shop and back-room roasting facility are housed on a lesser-trafficked stretch of Fulton Street, making it the perfect destination for a lazy Saturday morning. Grab a cup or sign up for a tour, where you'll get an inside look at the Chicago-born business's fascinating operation.

Four Letter Word
Photograph: Jude Goergen

2. Four Letter Word Coffee

Restaurants Avondale

Don't expect to find pumpkin-spice anything at this tiny but specialized coffee shop in Logan Square. Branching off from its roastery in Back of the Yards (and another in Istanbul), Four Letter Word Coffee offers drip, pour-over, espresso, Turkish-style, cold coffee and tea. Pair your cup o' Joe with a pastry from Cellar Door Provisions and have a seat in the exquisitely decorated space.

Photograph: Shutterstock

3. Sip & Savor

Restaurants Cafés Hyde Park

Boasting three locations on Chicago's South Side, Sip & Savor is a coffee empire in the making. Founder Trez Pugh, III has long been committed to empowering his community by creating new jobs and offering space for people to come together. He does just that with Sip & Savor, which centers around fair-trade beans to boot. Get your coffee straight or spring for something a bit more indulgent, like the Bull Frog Mocha, with chocolate sauce, peppermint syrup, espresso and whipped cream.

Photograph: Bekki Y. Wasmuth

4. The Wormhole

Restaurants Coffee shops Wicker Park

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? 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.

Photograph: Courtesy Caffe Streets

5. Caffé Streets

Restaurants Coffee shops Wicker Park

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.

Dark Matter Coffee
Photograph: Katie Kullen

6. Dark Matter Coffee

Restaurants Coffee shops River West/West Town

Bonafide coffee aficionados should make time to visit Dark Matter Coffee's Mothership, a small shop and coffee bar set up in the front of the brand’s roasting facility that specializes in to-go orders and bags of beans. Looking for something a bit more comfy cozy? Dark Matter's Star lounge is just around the corner, offering a bit more space and wonderfully knowledgeable baristas.

Photograph: Shutterstock

7. Sip of Hope

Restaurants Coffee shops Logan Square

What do you get when you combine lattes and mental health awareness? The world's first ever coffee bar that donates 100 percent of proceeds to support proactive suicide prevention and mental health education. Located in Logan Square, Sip of Hope stands behind a short and sweet menu of caffeinated drinks (care of Dark Matter Coffee) plus an assortment of pastries from West Town Bakery. Keep an eye out for community fundraisers, free mental health education workshops and appearances from local therapy dogs.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

8. Loba Pastry + Coffee

Restaurants Coffee shops Lake View

Take a walk on the wild side at this no-frills shop that bakes inventive pastries that rotate daily (red mole croissants, lavender space pies and pimento cheese biscuits are some of our all-time favorites) alongside a curated collection of coffee drinks like Kyoto cold brew, cappuccino, espresso and more. 

coffee, latte, coffee shop, Belen Aquino, brew brew, avondale, pilsen
Photograph: Belen Aquino

9. Brew Brew Coffee Shop

Restaurants Cafés Logan Square

With locations in Avondale and Pilsen (the latter of which is temporarily closed), Brew Brew is the quintessential neighborhood coffee shop, where regulars know staff by name and vice versa. Coffee and specialty lattes are served alongside stacked tortas, like the fan-favorite braised pork with mole, pickled red onion, black beans and avocado.

Photograph: Courtesy Dayglow

10. Dayglow

Restaurants Coffee shops Humboldt Park

Part coffee subscription service, part brick-and-mortar retail experience, Dayglow is a caffeinated playground for coffee experts and novices alike. The concept originated in Los Angeles and aims to make it easy to get your hands on unique brews from around the world. Before you get lost in their online marketplace, check out Dayglow's shop in Logan Square, where you can sip blends from Brazilian brand La Cabra or Kenyan company Coffee Collective. There's also a lineup of wonderfully weird drinks that change with the season; guests can expect funky flavor combinations like hibiscus and peppermint or black sesame and activated charcoal. Don't forget to grab a bag of beans for at-home brewing on your way out!

Bridgeport Coffee House
Photograph: Jeremy Bolen

11. Bridgeport Coffee House

Restaurants Coffee shops Bridgeport

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, 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.

Photograph: Shutterstock

12. Intelligentsia Coffee

Restaurants Coffee shops Lake View

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

Military Latte
Photograph: Galdones Photography

13. Sawada Coffee

Restaurants Coffee shops West Loop

Chicago restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff and Japanese latte artist Hiroshi Sawada teamed up to bring this funky cafe to an unused corner of Green Street Smoked Meats. The main attraction is the military latte, Sawada's signature drink that's visually stunning and quite strong. It's roasty from espresso, slightly bitter from the green tea and sweetened with gentle notes of white chocolate. The rest of the offerings include straightforward espresso drinks, plus spiked options like shochu and iced coffee or Benedictine and chai.

Gaslight Coffee Roasters
Photograph: Erica Gannett

14. Gaslight Coffee Roasters

Restaurants Coffee shops Logan Square

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.

Eat Me Milk Me
Photograph: Courtesy Eat Me Milk Me

15. Eat Me Milk Me

Restaurants Coffee shops West Loop

It's impossible to walk past this West Loop café and not wonder what the hell is going on inside. Thanks to its bright-blue exterior and checkered accents, Eat Me Milk Me is unlike anything you've ever seen before. The menu is wonderfully unique, too, and offers a robust selection of loose-leaf tea from China and single-farm–sourced coffee as well as Asian snacks and bao buns. But you'll quickly notice that most folks walking out of Eat Me Milk Me are sipping bubble tea or boba, which comes in flavors like matcha, taro, jasmine and oolong. Grab a seat in the otherworldly space that architect Harry Nuriev designed and take it all in.

Back of the Yards Coffee Co.
Photograph: Courtesy Back of the Yards Coffee Co.

16. Back of the Yards Coffee Co.

Restaurants Cafés New City

This specialty coffee roaster serves an excellent cup of Joe and gives back to its namesake community. A portion of all sales goes directly to neighborhood programs that promote peace and education. Beyond that, the shop employs local youth and diverts 95 percent of its waste to compost. On the caffeine front, choose from menu items like Ojo Rojo (coffee with a shot of espresso), cappuccino, horchata cold brew, Toro Loco (cold brew, CO2 bubbles, simple syrup and lime) and drip coffee.

Photograph: Shutterstock

17. Metropolis Coffee Company

Restaurants Coffee shops Edgewater

No doubt you've seen their beans all over town—from menus at cafés and high-end restaurants to the shelves of your local grocery store. This father-son–founded coffee company has a roastery in Avondale as well as a public-facing café in Edgewater. Before you commit to a bag of beans, taste the offerings at their shop, where you can sip hot and cold drinks and nosh on gluten-free treats from De-Floured Bakery.

Painted Lady iced coffee drink at Big Shoulders
Photograph: Nick Murway

18. Big Shoulders Coffee

Restaurants Coffee shops River West/West Town

Tim Coonan, a 15-year home roaster, marries the efficiency of second-wave coffee (e.g. Starbucks) with the clean design and small-scale ethos of the third wave (e.g. Intelligentsia) at this corner coffee bar. He caters to Blue Line commuters with cheap “fast drip” (available in a self-serve machine) and to laptop lingerers with “slow coffee” (pour-over) and espresso drinks. Feeling indulgent? Order the toasted marshmallow latte, which is accompanied by a perfect campfire-singed 'mallow.

PBJ iced coffee at Heritage Bicycles.
Photograph: Nick Murway

19. Heritage Bicycle Company

Shopping Sports Lake View

When you choose a custom ride at Heritage Bicycle General Store, you have a few extra decisions to make—including regular or decaf. This Lakeview shop isn’t your typical bike store: It’s disguised as a coffee shop featuring cold brew, specialty lattes, drip coffee and fresh pastries. Grab a seat in the front of the store or head to the back to shop gear and bikes while you sip.

Dollop Coffee and Tea
Photograph: Erica Gannett

20. Dollop Coffee Co.

Restaurants Coffee shops Streeterville

With 15 locations and counting, there's a good chance you're closer to a Dollop than you think. The brand roasts its own coffee and crafts specialized pastries and breads in its bakehouse, meaning everything on offer is incredibly fresh. We love pairing the tumeric chai latte with the veggie sandwich, which comes stacked with goat cheese spread, tomato, roasted red peppers and cucumber.

Colectivo Coffee
Photograph: Courtesy Colectivo Coffee

21. Colectivo Coffee

Restaurants Coffee shops Lincoln Park

This Milwaukee import is making busy Chicagoans swoon with a large outdoor patio, delicious seasonal pastries, beer on tap and, of course, fantastic coffee. The sprawling cafés in Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Andersonville are colorful and cheerful, making Colectivo an ideal destination for a pre-work boost or winding down after a long day.

Hero Coffee Bar
Photograph: Grace Allen

22. Hero Coffee Bar

Restaurants Coffee shops Loop

Hero Coffee Bar is tiny, with just five two-top tables and eight seats at their coffee bar, so consider this a spot for meeting a friend, not pounding on your laptop. Hero offers pour-over coffee, which is roasted once or twice a week so it's always fresh, along with hearty snacks like sandwiches and bagels, including the cutely named Fig, Nut of Your Imagination Bagel, topped with a tasty combo ofalmond butter and fig jam.

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Lost Larson
Photograph: Jessica Dawson

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