Chicagoans love their coffee culture not only for a quick hit of caffeine on their way to work or school, but also for long leisurely hang out sessions on weekends with friends or family. Plus, when inclement weather forces folks inside, there’s nothing like finding a comfy space to sip a hot cup of Joe, dry off, or come in from the wind. You decide how you take your Java — pour-over, drip, espresso, or added to froth — and we’ll tell you where to go. Hint: it’s all about the neighborhoods.
The Wormhole Coffee
It’s hard to stand out in Chicago's coffee scene because there are so many great places to choose from. The Wormhole, however, has no problems making a splash and being totally unique with its '80s-themed décor full of Star Wars nostalgia, archaic Apple computers and a DeLorean (you read that right, "Back to the Future" fans). Order a Honey Bear Latte, made with local honey or a Peanut Butter Koopa-Troopa, made with peanut mousse and local chocolate in this Wicker Park hot spot.
This is the place to go to hang out for a few hours, play a round of table tennis or pinball, and sip something new — have you ever tried a Military Latte or a Boozy Steamer? Drinks here are imagined by Hiroshi Sawada, an expert Japanese latte artist, and paired with treats from Chicago’s Doughnut Vault. Situated in the heart of the West Loop, with floor-to-ceiling windows that face Green Street, Sawada Coffee is the ideal space to drink the day away.
Back of the Yards Coffeehouse
The tagline “Resilient and Robust” stands for more than just their coffee beans. In fact, the ethos that sets Back of the Yards Coffeehouse apart from the many others throughout the city is their commitment to help the South Side neighborhood thrive. A social impact fund — $1 for every bag of beans sold — provides scholarships and funding for important youth programs and education in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Not only does the coffee you buy help the community efforts but also it tastes good. Pop in for a Microfoam Open Mic to share your music, poetry and art or bring in your kids for the Story Hour.
Dark Matter Coffee
You can pick up a bag of Dark Matter coffee beans around Chicago in local grocery stores — Unicorn Blood, A Love Supreme, Devil’s Lettuce — but you’ll probably have to pop into one of Dark Matter Coffee's five physical locations to buy Get the F*ck Out of Bed or This Caffeine Kills Fascists. The coffees, sourced with sustainability, fair-trade and traceability in mind, come from El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. Expect a well-named and great tasting cup of coffee at any one of the shops.
Four Letter Word Coffee
Four Letter Word Coffee has two locations, one in Chicago and one in Istanbul. Pop into the cafe in Logan Square and order a specialty pour-over coffee or a Turkish-style brew. Cellar Door Provisions provides the baked goods that pair nicely. The coffee shop, located in Logan Square, is quaint and lovely with herringbone wood flooring, minimal yet thoughtful seating, and interesting artwork.
Colectivo Coffee, a Wisconsin import, has five locations in Chicagoland: Andersonville, Evanston, Lincoln Park, Logan Square and Wicker Park. The Lincoln Park location is the first Chicago coffee shop for this brand and the selling point is the large outdoor patio with a fire pit. Sip your coffee alongside a meal — there’s a full café menu here.
Intelligentsia coffee is well-known across Chicagoland, with seven different locations, each with a different ambiance. You can also find this Chicago-based coffee chain in California, Boston and New York — with “Training Labs” throughout the country. The flavor profiles are straightforward and stalwart, delivering a consistent cup across the board.
Bridgeport is known for more than its vibrant art scene — the coffee at Bridgeport Coffee House, on the corner of Morgan and 31st Street, is a neighborhood staple. You’ll want to relax here and enjoy an expertly prepared artisanal blend, roasted and brewed to perfection.
Big Shoulders Coffee
Named after a popular Chicago moniker, Big Shoulders Coffee roasts no-nonsense and great tasting coffee at six different location. On-the-go Chicago commuters can order a quick and inexpensive fast-drip coffee and creatives who plan to spend a few hours in the shop can order a slow pour-over coffee. Indulge in a Horchata Latte or a Matcha Latte or see what you think of the sweet Marshmallow Latte with a S’more on top.
Gaslight Coffee Roasters
It seems a herculean task to go up against big chain coffee shops, but the independently-owned and operated Gaslight Coffee Roasters, located in Logan Square, is up to the challenge. You can order a latte with regular, soy or oat milk. Seasonal roasts — brewed either in house or by guest roasters — keep customers coming back to try something new. Snack items will keep you satiated as well in this casual laid-back coffee house.
Ipsento in Bucktown has informed Baristas that know how to dress up a beverage with fun latte art. Monthly public cupping sessions are held to make sure the quality and taste of the coffee is up to par. You can also take coffee classes, like Barista Basics, to learn techniques on how to brew coffee better at home.
Purple Llama Coffee and Records
Who doesn't like a good record store and coffee shop? Enter: Purple Llama Coffee and Records. Enjoy a rotating menu of coffee and records, sink into a chair and relax. In the dog days of summer, you can lounge on the patio and people watch. You can’t miss the place — a large, purple neon sign lights the way.
Dollop Coffee Company
The story of Dollop Coffee Company begins in a small shop in Uptown and quickly expands into 14 cafes throughout the city. Not only does Dollop roast their own beans, but they also bake their own pastries, which means everything is as fresh as can be. Order zucchini bread, croissants or a blueberry muffin to go with your espresso.
Metropolis Coffee Company
Metropolis Coffee Company on Granville Avenue is a popular spot for college students and locals that want to read a book or magazine and hang out for a few hours. All are welcome here and will feel comfortable the moment they walk through the doors. Local art adorns the walls, relaxing music plays through the speakers, and the general atmosphere feels soothing in the way a great neighborhood hang should.
Hero Coffee Bar
Chicago-based, with several locations in various neighborhoods, Hero Coffee Bar loves Chicago and creating coffees based on this great city. Pick up a bag of limited edition beans: Chicago Hometown Pride or The Loop. Or sit and stay awhile while sipping bourbon barrel aged coffee.