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Chicago: Where to find the best Coffee

Where to Find the Best Coffee in Chicago

by Bob Glaze

There are more and more independent coffee cafes and roasters popping up in Chicago and the suburbs. My goal is to try many of the new spots. A few years ago, I bought the Indie Coffee Passport which allowed me a coffee drink at 22 participating cafes and to find some excellent new spots in the area. Though it is no longer available, I just found and bought the Chicago Café Passport which lists many coffee shops in the city that I can now visit and report back to you. Here are some of my favorites:

I highly recommend my latest find, Loba Pastry + Coffee at 3600 N. Lincoln Ave. Opened in May 2023 this is the new location of this Latina owned business. Owner Valeria Velazquez Lindsten had worked at Charlie Trotter’s and Blackbird and was able to raise enough money through crowdfunding to open her dream cafe. The focus is on her excellent pastries, bars, scones, muffins and biscuits. I had a very tasty buckwheat and honey scone and a latte. I enjoyed meeting Valeria in the kitchen and congratulated her on 2024 James Beard Nomination as a semifinalist for Outstanding Bakery.

One of my favorite new finds is 2d Restaurant in Lakeview at 3155 N. Halsted. Opened in February 2022, it has one of the most creative interiors of any cafe or restaurant in the city. Painted by local Chicago artist Mia Larson, the entire space is painted with black-and-white hand-drawn, comic-like illustrations or illusions. They serve coffee, donuts and fried chicken. It transports you to another world! I was so glad to have seen it featured on TV and in several articles. I had a great latte and the triple chocolate donut.

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Another new find is the Map Room at 1949 N Hoyne Ave. at W. Armitage Ave. I just went after reading that this popular bar is open during the day for coffee drinks and pastries. It has a warm atmosphere filled with globes, maps and travel books for reading. It was packed with people working remotely on their computers. At night it is open for beer and cocktails. It has a large menu of over 200 craft beers to try. I recently went back for a travel group function. I loved the old fashioned. They also have a nice outdoor patio.

After reading about Sip of Hope Coffee, I had to go and support it. This is a neighborhood/community coffee shop that sells coffee drinks and pastries. 100% of the proceeds from the sales go towards mental health education and suicide prevention.  All their baristas are trained in mental health first aid. What a wonderful concept! 3039 W. Fullerton Ave. in Logan Square.

Also in Logan Square is the new location of Daisies at 2375 N. Milwaukee. The restaurant, known for its pastas, is open for coffee and pastries in the morning prior to opening for lunch. I recommend going as it has an attractive atmosphere along with great coffee drinks, tea drinks, cookies, pastries and coffee cakes.

To the south is Ipsento 606 at 1813 N. Milwaukee Ave. This is a hip, local coffee shop with a menu of coffee, drinks, tea and pastries and donuts. I went on a Sunday morning on a cold winter day, and it was jumping with locals. I enjoyed my latte. It is a great location as it is near Park 567 of the elevated 606 trail, where you can stop in while walking, jogging or biking the trail.

In my neighborhood at 1013 W. Webster is Olor Coffee Bar which opened in December 2021. I am glad to have a coffee shop so close to my house. They have a full coffee menu using Intelligentsia coffee as well as French pastries. The owner, Luis, is an immigrant from Venezuela who came here and worked many jobs to be able to save money to open the shop. He wants to be successful, so I recommend helping support his business.  He recently opened a small, walk-up location at 2811 N. Broadway just north of W. Diversey Pkwy.

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Opened in the summer of 2023, is Vigo Coffee at the corner of Lincoln, Racine and Diversey at 2800 N. Lincoln Ave. This is an attractive, contemporary cafe featuring coffee and tea drinks along with pastries. sandwiches and some Mexican dishes. They also have a second location in downtown, suburban Oak Park at 1000 Lake St., Suite 100B. I just saw on WGN TV in Chicago that they make a horchata latte. I want to go back and try it!

Just to the south is Herb and Alchemy. Located at the corner of Lincoln and Diversey this is a cafe where they focus on coffee, tea and pastries. The menu features coffee and tea that has been blended with herbal infusions. Their goal is to provide healthy drinks without refined sugars, artificial flavorings, chemicals and additives. I enjoyed my latte and a healthy oat bar. The staff is very helpful and friendly. 1165 W. Diversey Pkwy.

North of RH Chicago is a great new find, PiniPico Brazilian Café.  Located at 1538 N. Clark St. between the Gold Coast and Old Town, this is a colorful attractive cafe featuring coffee drinks, pastries and several choices of empanadas. I enjoyed my latte and the staff.

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Cocoa + Co. is at 1651 N. Wells; for great chocolates, coffee and drinking chocolate. They also have pastries, croissants, quiche and other items. They carry several imported chocolates along with a selection of gourmet chocolates. I love the dark chocolate bark with cherries and nuts along with my latte!

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Heritage Bikes & Coffee is a chain of  three local shops My favorite is Heritage Bikes & Coffee, a coffee shop in Lakeview adjacent to a store selling bicycles, gear, apparel and repairs. It has a wonderful atmosphere and decor with great coffee and amazing doughnuts!  2959 N. Lincoln. I have also been to the Heritage Outpost location at 1020 W. Lawrence.

Further north in Lincoln Square is Oromo Cafe. It is a hip coffee shop with great coffee and a beautifully designed space. 4703 N. Lincoln.

A great addition to the Chicago coffee scene is Colectivo Coffee at 2530 N. Clark in Lincoln Park. Located in the former Einstein Bagel shop, it has a great outside patio for the warmer months. In addition to great coffee drinks, they feature many breakfast items as well as a number of signature sandwiches. They now have five locations in Chicago and Evanston in addition to their cafes in Milwaukee and Madison, WI.

I just tried their other new location in Logan Square at 2261 N. Milwaukee just south of Fullerton. It is a colorful café with both indoor and outdoor seating. Colectivo Coffee in Wicker Park is the newest Chicago location at 1211 N. Damen at the corner of Division.  It has a great outdoor patio for the warmer months. I also like their Andersonville location at 5425 N. Clark.

Located in Lakeview, at 2000 W. Diversey, is the recently opened Hexe Coffee Co. I read about it in Ina Pinkney’s former Breakfast With Ina column in the Chicago Tribune. I always follow her recommendations as I have known her for many years. It is a fun spot with a great vibe and design. They roast their coffee onsite with a focus on specialty and barrel aged coffee. They also have an on-staff baker and pastry chef with great results. I loved the blueberry scone and a latte. They have a good selection of pastries and breakfast sandwiches. I look forward to going back!

Up Michigan Ave at Chicago Ave is Ralph’s Coffee located at the Ralph Lauren store at 750 N. Michigan. The shop serves Ralph’s Coffee special blends, espresso and teas, along with pastries, overnight oats, yogurts, and sweet treats, including Ralph’s Brownie and Ralph’s Chocolate Chip Cookie. The small cafe is beautifully decorated and is a great hangout while you shop on Michigan Ave. I enjoyed my latte and the staff on my two visits.

Further west on N. Clark next to Noninna, is Caffè Umbria at 346 N. Clark. This is an attractive cafe featuring Italian-style drinks brewed from house-brand beans, plus baked goods. I also just went to their larger location in Logan Square. This 9,000 square ft. Car Barn has been transformed into a café, roastery and coffee lab with a creative use of space and materials, incorporating coffee shipping containers into the design. You can enjoy coffee, pastries or a light lunch. 25 45 W. Armitage Ave.

I just found Printer’s Row Coffee Company located at 2842 N. Lincoln. It is located close to both the Apollo Theater and the Victory Gardens Theater. They roast their coffee onsite and also feature teas, pastries, donuts, chocolates and oatmeal.

I heard about and just went to Kapej Coffee Roasters at 1447 N. Sedgwick in Old Town, just south of the Brown Line Station.  It is a warmly decorated, casual spot with a delightful owner. They feature coffees from around the world along with bagels, croissants and sandwiches.

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I just went to Cafe Deko at 800 W. Diversey Pkwy at the corner of Halsted in Lincoln Park.  Opened in 2020, it is known for its coffee and tea. It has a warm environment with an elegant Art Deco design that is popular for locals to hang out.

Another new find is Doppio Coffee House at 3054 N Greenview Ave. near the corner of Lincoln Ave. Opened in 2019, it features a number of espresso based drinks and  drip coffee drinks, along with pastries and baked goods. It was the 2021 winner of the Timeout Love Local Awards for most loved coffee shop in Chicago. I enjoyed the experience and the staff.

I also recommend Ludlow Charlingtons Coffee Shop at 2425 N. Clark. Featuring quality coffee drinks and tea, their interior has several portraits of dogs dressed in Victorian era fashion. The dogs featured in these portraits are inspired by actual sheltered dogs from Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC). 50% of the proceeds goes to support the sheltered dog population.

Dark Matter Coffee has six Chicago locations. Make sure to stop in at 2521 W. Chicago for Dark Matter Coffee’s Star Lounge. This is a fun cafe with great murals inside and outside on the rear patio. I went for the first time by chance on Mexican Independence Day and particularly enjoyed the mariachi band on the back porch. Dark Matter also has their Mothership location nearby at 738 N. Western Ave. It is a smaller cafe but contains their roasting facility.

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In the East Village neighborhood close to West Town, Noble Square and Ukrainian Village is Kasama at 1001 N. Winchester Ave. It is a casual spot offering wonderful pastries, coffee and Filipino specialties. I went on a Saturday for brunch and the line was out the door. I recommend avoiding weekends if possible. I enjoyed the experience despite the crowds. They are open for breakfast and lunch Wednesday to Sunday from 9am until 2pm. It is open for coffee and pastries only from 2pm to 3pm. They are then open for dinner with a tasting menu from Thursday through Sunday. In 2022, it was named a James Beard Foundation finalist for Best New Restaurant!

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Cafe Jumping Bean: At 1439 E. 18th St., this a funky, local coffeehouse and cafe that is well-worth the visit. Since 1984, it was Pilsen’s first coffeehouse/gallery featuring many local artists. The healthy menu features soups, salads, sandwiches and vegetarian options. I also was just at their second location L’ Cafecito Jumping Bean which is next to the Damen Pink Line L Station at 2010 S. Damen. It is small inside but has a nice outdoor terrace.

When in Roscoe Village I always stop in at The Bake House Chicago at 2009 W. Roscoe. I went back for the second time and had a great latte and an Argentinian cookie. They have coffee drinks, tea, wonderful cookies, croissants and pastries all made in-house and other breakfast items. They have a nice patio in front on the street during the warmer months. The owner, from Venezuela, is delightful to visit with.

I hope you enjoy my recommendations when you need some caffeine this summer.

For more travel destinations and recommendations, visit globalphile.com.