Although not ordinarily known as a great “coffee city,” Chicago has quite a few tasty and trendy cafes where thirsty customers can stop in for their favorite hot and iced coffee beverages and where those who prefer to brew at home can pick up some excellent local and internationally-grown beans. Whether you’re looking for a friendly place in Chicago’s famed Loop, a small café in West Town or a place in the Bridgeport region of the city that roasts its own beans, you’re certain to find just what you’re looking for in the 3rd largest city in the United States.
In the following article we will focus on a number of popular cafes and coffee joints in the city of Chicago, and describe for you some of the beans and methods used by these shops in their effort to create one great cup of coffee after another. We will also describe the buildings/shops in which this awesome coffee is served—the seating, atmosphere and some of the oddities that make each of these coffee houses so popular among the local people.
Bridgeport Coffee House
If you find yourself at or near the corner of Morgan and 31st Street in Chicago, you may notice morning customers focusing their attention on one particular shop: the Bridgeport Coffee House. The tidy, yet spacious café always has a steady stream of patrons coming and going—customers paying tribute to the outstanding coffee operation here—a point of pride for the Bridgeport neighborhood.
The Bridgeport Coffee House is one of the only coffee shops in the area that roasts its own beans, and the excellence of this process can be tasted in every frothy cup.
The building that houses this outstanding coffee operation is warm and inviting; with a wooded feel reminiscent of a more rural setting. The seating is ample and comfortable, inviting customers to stay a while, chat, and take advantage of the free Wi-Fi available to all customers.
Gaslight Coffee Roasters
If you’re looking for a scrumptious hot beverage in a café that represents a genuine hipster flare, make your way to Gaslight Coffee Roasters—you will not be disappointed.
After many years in the coffee business, the owners of Gaslight Coffee Roasters, Tristan Coulter and Zak Rye, decided to apply that experience and open up a joint that truly reflected their personalities and simple, laid back lifestyle. The result was a coffee house with a rustic hippie décor—recycled wood, old-style lanterns, etc.—and super-friendly service. Gaslight Coffee Roasters is the perfect hangout for those who like to combine tremendous coffee with great conversation. Guests can sip on special blends that are roasted in house, and on some days they can sample the brews of guest roasters, who take over the shop based on a rotating schedule. And should you desire a little grub with your coffee, you can’t beat the Gaslight Coffee Roasters’ platters of Smoking Goose charcuterie, house-pickled vegetables and Marion Street cheeses that add a little zest to go along with the mouth-watering coffee.
Located in the River West/West Town part of Chicago, the Star Lounge is rapidly becoming one of the trendiest cafes in the entire city. With comfortable seating, including a rustic, wooden coffee bar with saloon-style stools, and appealing décor, you may find it difficult to leave this quaint coffee house once you settle in, which would explain the great crowds this place attracts throughout the day.
As for the coffee, the Star Lounge is renowned for its Dark Matter brew, a coffee roasted in eight-pound batches above the café in a number of unique flavor profiles that are beginning to raise eyebrows among some of Chicago’s restaurateurs. The owner of the bar, Jesse Diaz, uses the same unusual approach that goes into making Dark Matter in his iced coffee beverages as well. These cool, refreshing coffee delights achieve their delicate flavor using heat extraction rather than the cold brewing techniques that are more trendy nowadays.
And if all this coffee-making talk seems a bit over your head…no problem, just sidle up to the bar and ask Jesse to explain—which he is always happy to do.
An intentionally small place, Ipsento Coffee House is a warm and cozy establishment, with baristas and servers who are ultra-friendly and always eager to please. The small, unfinished and unassuming space in which Ipsento is located does not necessarily reflect the coffee that is served here, which is always big, bold and delicious.
The owners of the Ipsento Coffee House utilize direct-trade coffee that is roasted in house and each steaming cup seems more perfect than the one before. The café also serves a wide variety of tasty snacks, such as warm pastries during the AM hours and sandwiches that are named after some of our greatest storytellers. The Garrison Keillor, for example, is a sandwich made of turkey, sharp cheddar, avocado, apple, and honey mustard dressing on toasted wheat bread. All the grub here is basic, real and straightforward, just like the coffee, lattes and other hot and cold beverages that consistently have customers milling around this amiable space.