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Photograph: Katie Kullen

The 28 best coffee shops in Chicago

Get to know the best coffee shops in Chicago and let the sweet jolt of caffeine be your guide.

Morgan Olsen
Emma Krupp
Written by
Morgan Olsen
Contributor
Emma Krupp
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The best coffee in Chicago offers so much more than a mere caffeine jolt. From community-centric neighborhood cafes to sleek third-wave joints serving pour-overs and coffee tonics, Chicago's coffee scene offers enough diversity to suit the needs of every java fiend. Grab a cup brewed by nationally-lauded roasters like Dark Matter Coffee and Intelligentsia, indulge your sweet tooth with creative flavored lattes or post up in a homey café with a book and linger awhile—in many cases, you can even pair your cup with pastries from some of the best bakeries in Chicago. Next time you're looking for things to do in Chicago, consider a caffeine-fueled field trip to the best coffee shop in Chicago. 

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Best coffee shops in Chicago

  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • New City

There’s only one roast on the menu at Sputnik Coffee Company—a roaster and cafe based out of Back of the Yards—and it’s so good we’re willing to bet you won’t regret the lack of options. Made from a medium roast blend of Brazilian, Colombian and Indonesian beans, Sputnik’s singular coffee is smooth, fragrant and a little chocolatey, with a price point that’s far more approachable than most of its small-batch counterparts. Swing by the Back of the Yards cafe for a cup served in the shop’s signature bright red mugs, or look for bagged coffee at local independent grocery stores (they also sell a bottled cold brew, in case you prefer your coffee chilled).

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  • 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 and settle in with a copy of Source Code, the cafe's new-ish publication focusing on the ins-and-outs of the coffee industry—everything from how beans are sourced to the nitty-gritty details of production. 

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  • 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 featured microbakeries (a.k.a. small, independent bakers) and peep the exquisitely decorated space from a distance, because the shop only offers takeaway service from an ordering window for now. 

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Hyde Park

Boasting three locations on Chicago's South Side (plus an additional cafe in the suburbs), 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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Wicker Park
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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.

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  • Coffee shops
  • Wicker Park
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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. Pro tip: Pair your latte with a pillowy vegan doughnut from Lincoln Park's Beacon Doughnuts. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • River West/West Town
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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.

  • 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 offers a selection of signature coffee blends and pastries—and while its baristas aren't therapists (just trained in mental health first aid), patrons can find a network of resources on the wall as soon as they walk in. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Lincoln Square

Browse pottery, floral arrangements, paintings and more hand-crafted goods at Side Practice Coffee, a Ravenswood cafe that spotlights the small businesses and creative side projects of folks from across Chicago (and serves a pretty good cup of coffee to boot). Follow Side Practice on Instagram to keep up with the cafe's pop-up schedule and don't forget to pair your drink with a sweet treat from the rotating list of local bakers featured in the pastry case.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Logan Square

With locations in Avondale and Pilsen, 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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Avondale

Arlene Luna and Jack Blue moved from California to Avondale (where Luna grew up) to open Moonwalker Cafe, a plant-strewn storefront on Belmont Avenue with a welcoming atmosphere and a menu full of delicious, locally-sourced gems. Creative espresso drinks—like an Almond Joy-inspired latte made from mocha syrup and a blend of coconut/almond milks—are brewed with Dark Matter Coffee, while a rotating list of sandwiches get stacked with everything from Catalpa Grove Farm sausage to house-smoked turkey. 

  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • River West/West Town

Located in the erstwhile space of long-running West Town coffee shop Atomix—and owned by one of its former baristas, Josh Miller, who also runs Damn Fine in Logan Square—Prequel Cafe serves a tight menu of coffee drinks made with beans from Four Letter Word, plus kombucha on tap. Don't miss the delightful selection of pastries made in-house by chef Danielle Snow, which range from the savory (ratatouille galette, broccoli and cheddar quiche) to sweet (vanilla bean flan with apricot preserves).

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  • 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!

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  • Bridgeport
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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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Woodlawn

Located inside the Experimental Station (a non-profit in Woodlawn that also houses orgs like South Side Weekly and the 61st St. Farmers Market), Build Coffee is a cafe, used bookshop, event space and community hub all in one. Settle in the shop's cozy interior with a cup of Halfwit Coffee and some lunch or grab a seat on the sun-dappled patio—on warm days, an iced cardamom rose latte won't disappoint.

   

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  • Lake View
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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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • West Loop
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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.

  • Restaurants
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  • Auburn Gresham

Note: Afro Joe's will close April 10 but plans to reopen in a new location in Auburn Gresham. 

Light roast coffee—unpretentious and tasty—takes center stage at this Auburn Gresham cafe, which welcomes visitors with rolling garage door-style windows, exposed brick and super-tall ceilings. Grab a coffee later in the morning so you can stick around for snacks from the cafe's expansive lunch menu, where you'll find sandwiches, paninis, wraps and salads that pay homage to different Chicago neighborhoods (like the Auburn Gres-Ham panini, which piles prosciutto, tomato, provolone and spring mix onto sourdough bread). 

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  • Logan Square
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Co-founders 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). Swing by the cafe for a cup of pour-over coffee—made either from beans roasted in-house or from a rotating list of guest roasters—alongside a sweet treat from Aya Pastry or Dorite Donuts. 

  • Restaurants
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  • 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.

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  • 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 dulce de leche cold brew, cappuccino, vegan horchata, iced fruit tea and drip coffee.

  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Avondale

Settle in for retro, vaguely MCM-inspired vibes at this homey Avondale coffee house, which reopened under new ownership in early 2021 after closing during the pandemic. New owners Kati Paiz (who was a general manager at the former Avondale Coffee Club) and Adam Paronto have preserved much of the cafe's charm, with the addition of top-notch beans from their suburban roastery Reprise Roasters. When the weather allows, grab a seat on the patio with an iced latte and pastries from Bennison's Bakery. 

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