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HATS OFF Optimo throws its hat in the ring for best unexpected cup of joe.

Unusual spots to get coffee

Grab a cup of joe at a hat store, bars and more.


RECOMMENDED: Best coffee in Chicago

Optimo Hat Company
Graham Thompson’s not only a stickler for details when it comes to his custom handcrafted hats but for his coffee, too. Three years ago, he installed a small Rancilio espresso machine, plus a top-notch grinder and a supply of Metropolis beans, in the back of his South Side shop to satisfy his caffeine needs. Bonus: He shares his coffee with his favorite customers, and it’s free. 10215 S Western Ave (773-238-2999).

Map Room
Patrons of the big-name coffee chain at Hoyne and Armitage might consider crossing the street to this Bucktown bar, where they’ll find great (and cheaper) served-anytime coffee drinks made from Intelligentsia beans and a selection of free-to-read newspapers, whose headlines our bartender—er, barista—told me often lead to some heated, friendly debates among the regulars. Plus, the morning light means you’ll get a better look at the bar’s cool maps, vintage globes and beer memorabilia. 1949 N Hoyne Ave (773-252-7636).

Elements Boutique
One glance around this River North shop’s luxe collection of fashion and home accessories and it’s obvious the owners know a thing or two about style. So it comes as no surprise that its small coffee bar, serving up coffee drinks made from Metropolis beans, as well as sweets from Bucktown’s HotChocolate, is just as chic with black lacquered bar stools, a curved white bar and a futuristic fiber optic light fixture. 741 N Wells St (312-642-6574).

Haymarket Pub & Brewery
Sure, this just-opened brew pub’s got beer fanatics in a serious tizzy over its huge suds selection. But just as exciting is the spacious back room, permanent home to the Drinking & Writing Theater and a soon-to-open early-morning lounge where you’ll find Metropolis coffee on offer, as well as an extensive selection of books dedicated to the history of the labor movement. 737 W Randolph St (312-638-0700).

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