Caffeinated Goodness Roasted With Love Right Here in Chi-Town
Chicago may not be strongly associated with coffee the way New York, Seattle, and LA are, but the truth of the matter is — we love our coffee. And while Starbucks may be the 800 lb. caffeinated gorilla, there’s much more to Chicago coffee than the white cup with the green logo. Straight up, we have some of the best independent coffeehouses anywhere, and you can’t really say you’ve been to Chicago unless you’ve tried one or two of them. A cuppa from one of these places and you may never be happy with corporate coffee again.
Trendy, Hip and Green: Intelligentsia Coffee – (53 West Jackson, Loop) Known for their green brewing tactics and as a favorite among Chicago coffee elite, Intelligentsia started in 1995 with their Lakeview coffee bar (3123 North Broadway). In 2003 they opened their Loop location in the historic Monadnock Building. The classic bar setup was modeled after an Italian espresso bar, with art-deco characteristics, marble floors and exposed woodwork. The vibe makes you feel like you’re straight out of an old Italian movie, sipping espresso in Florence. Their roasting works warehouse on Fulton Street in the West Loops offers tours every first Saturday of the month. You can watch the coffee roasting take place and purchase some of the freshest coffee you’ve ever tasted. In addition to their Lakeview and Loop locations, they also have locations in Millennium Park. Intelligentsia also supplies coffee to high-end restaurants all over Chicago, has four locations in California and a lab in New York. intelligentsiacoffee.com
Must Try: Black Cat Espresso, a syrupy espresso blend with the perfect balance of bitter and sweet.
How To Get There From: Presidential Towers (555 West Madison, West Loop) – Walk to the Clinton Blue Line and take the train towards O’Hare. Hop off at Jackson and you’re right there. It only takes 15 minutes max.
Fair Trade for the Cool Kids: Metropolis – (1039 West Granville, Loyola) Metropolis defines itself as “Small Batch Artisan Roasting in the Heart of Chicago.” It’s right next to the Granville Red Line stop and Loyola University campus, Metropolis attracts a wide variety of local clientele. Their business is based off of respect: they respect coffee farmers by paying a fair price for coffee, and they respect Metropolis customers by offering quality, fair trade coffee and tea at reasonable prices. The shop has a cozy cafe feel with a bit of a twist. Bold colored walls with unique, almost punk-like artwork are offset by the crisp white porcelain cups. Nurse your joe while Loyola students and quirky neighborhood types huddle over their laptops. metropoliscoffee.com. It’s quite a haul (although a straight shot on the Red Line towards Howard) across the city, but trust us — this is like the Gino’s East of coffee. The Sears Tower of Joe. The Wrigley Field of coffee roasters. You cant miss out.
Must Try: The Red Line espresso, Metropolis’ signature line, named after the neighborhood rail system. This blend has bold flavors of cocoa and lavender with a mild fruit finish. For something new and different, try the Spice Island coffee, a blend of Indonesian and South American coffee with a mild spiciness and sweet nutty flavors.
How To Get There From: Cityfront Place (400 North McClurg Ct., Streeterville), walk to the Grand Red Line stop and take it towards Howard. Jump off at the Granville stop. It takes about 40-45 minutes, but like we said, it’s more than worth it.
Sip It Like a College Kid: Arbor Vitae Café and Coffee Roasters (Java & Juice)- (1120 E. Diehl Rd, Naperville) Family owned Arbor Vitae Cafe has been roasting and serving intriguing coffee blends to the Naperville community since 1994. They provide fresh gourmet coffee beans and full leaf teas to suburban professionals and NIU students/faculty. The cafe is located on NIU’s campus, making Arbor Vitae very WiFi and student friendly. If you need somewhere to work on a business report or to read a book, this place has the quiet ambience of a comfy study nook. http://stores.java-juice.com/
Must Try: Wild Ass Blend coffee is a blend of beans from four different continents, brewed in honor of the French author Honore de Balzac, who wrote The Wild Asses Skin. Balzac had a passion for coffee and wandered Paris daily searching for the perfect blend.
How To Get There From: Iroquois Club (1101 Iroquois Avenue, Naperville), head East toward Spring Garden Circle, and then take a right on East Washington Street. When you get to East Diehl Road, take the first right. It’s only a 5 minute drive. Or If you feel like getting your blood pumping, it’s a 30 minute walk.
So take some time to taste a cup of independent Chicago coffee for yourself. It’s part of what makes Chicago a great city to wake up in.