Chicago’s 20 Essential Coffee Shops

Chicago features some serious coffee shops, with roasters setting up cafes to bring the city fresh cups of coffee that put cheap diner coffee to shame. But roasters aren’t the only ones having fun. Coffee pros are finding space to showcase their drink-making skills at these 20 essential shops.

For this fall 2018 update, Passion House, Sip of Hope, Overflow, Build, Ca Phe Da, Limitless Fulton Market, and Ipsento 606 were added. This was a tough call as some of Chicago’s biggest names failed to make the cut. An injection of new grounds is needed to keep things fresh.

Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Oromo Cafe

4703 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60625

This is a veritable United Nations for coffee, as newly-opened Oromo Cafetakes flavors from Africa, India and Turkey to offer some of Chicago’s most-unique coffee drinks. Oromo also spikes its beverages with superfoods for added nutrients in the drinks.

2. Osmium Coffee Bar

1117 W Belmont
Chicago, IL

Osmium Coffee Bar, the latest place to find Dark Matter coffee is quaint. It serves up all the classics of its older siblings, including the venerable Star Lounge Coffee Bar. The newish West Loop location, Meddle, is also a great place for an agave latte.

3. Gaslight Coffee Roasters

2385 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

Hipsters and families find common grounds at Gaslight, and it can be quite a scene of folks sipping on espresso shots. But put away those biases, as staff treats customers without the pretension associated with a fedora and handlebar mustache.

4. Sip of Hope Coffee Bar

3039 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647Sip of Hope, a collaboration with Dark Matter, is a Logan Square coffee house with an important mission to uplift those struggling with mental health.

     5. Ipsento 606

1813 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

Ipsento 606, along Milwaukee Avenue, is always busy right near the 606. The enthusiastic energy helps complement the Nutella and Ipsento lattes (the latter made with coconut milk, honey and a sprinkle of cayenne).

6. The Wormhole Coffee

1462 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

Come for Marty McFly’s Delorean, stay for the coffee in this cozy Wicker Park space. The Wormhole is a fan favorite.

7. Caffe Streets

1750 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622

Taking inspiration from European cafes, the specialty drinks, like the “Monkey Latte,” keep customers coming back at Caffe Streets in Wicker Park.

8. Dropshot Coffee & Snack Bar

312 W Chestnut St
Chicago, IL 60610

This tennis-themed coffee bar inside the FieldHouse Jones boutique hotel is a great place to get work done near Old Town/Gold Coast/The Loop. There are plenty of USB plugs all over to charge electronics. The food is also worth noting: The smashes (small plates) are eclectic and pair well with the coffee at Dropshot.

9. Caffé Umbria

346 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654

Caffe Umbria, a Seattle import, is an escape from the usual River North shenanigans. Not only is the hot chocolate stellar, but that dazzling selection of coffee beverages has something for everyone. It has two locations.

10. Passion House Coffee Roasters

2021 W Fulton St
Chicago, IL 60612

This well-thought-out coffee shop near the Logan Square monument serves some of the city’s best coffee. Passion House’s food is also tasty and goes beyond stale pastries.

11. Limitless Coffee & Tea

217 N Green St
Chicago, IL 60607

Some may not believe in the health benefits Limitless Coffee claims the drinks provide, but beverages like charcoal-activated lattes are creative and tasty. The flagship location in Fulton Market is crowded with WeWork refugees, pounding on their laptops with laser-like precision. It’s a popular spot for meetings.

12. Sawada Coffee

112 N Green St
Chicago, IL 60607Brendan Sodikoff is committed to coffee with CC Ferns, 3 Greens Market and Sawada, the tiny spot tucked inside Green Street Smoked Meats. Hogsalt has brought in famed latte artist Hiroshi Sawada, who runs a few coffee shops in Japan, and his unique military latte mashes green tea and vanilla syrup into a wonderful concoction that will leave patrons buzzed. Hogsalt also operates a coffee shop in Humboldt Park (CC Ferns).

13. Overflow Coffee Bar

1550 S State St
Chicago, IL 60605

Overflow donates profits to charity while pouring fair trade coffees and selling customers pastries, sandwiches, and salads. Creative drinks include a Nutella mocha. It’s a rare South Loop option that’s not a chain coffee shop.

14. Cà Phê Dá

1/2, 1800 S Carpenter St
Chicago, IL 60608

The cafe complementing HaiSous has an unfair advantage thanks to Thai Dang’s creative Vietnamese food with banh mi sandwiches and more. But the Pilsen cafe also uses coffee from Dang’s family in Vietnam producing some of the richest iced coffee in the city.

15. Cafe Jumping Bean

1439 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608

A Pilsen standard for 22 years, it’s more ideal to hang out for Intelligentsia coffee in between meals, as the food’s popularity can draw hungry crowds.

16. Bridgeport Coffee Company

3101 S Morgan St
Chicago, IL 60608

This South Side coffee shop features a neighborhood feel yet grinds out some of the city’s best coffee using beans procured across the world.

17. Back Of The Yards Coffehouse & Roastery

2059 W 47th St
Chicago, IL 60609

Back of the Yards Coffee is a new spot, but it’s already a community icon in a neighborhood that often only finds itself in the media spotlight for the wrong reasons. The owners have pledged to make their coffeehouse/roastery a welcoming place. Their motto reflects their efforts: “resilient and robust.”

18. Plein Air Cafe & Eatery

5751 S Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

This Euro-inspired cafe features a full assortment of coffee drinks. It’s a collaboration between Kevin Heisner (Heisler Hospitality) and former Little Branch partner Soo Choi. There’s also a great outdoor space next to the Robie House.

19. Build Coffee

2912, 6100 S Blackstone Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

Inside the Experimental Station, Build Coffee is popular with several South Side journalists who work nearby. It serves java from HalfWit and has a pulse of the community as a performing space and pies from Justice of the Pies.

20. Kusanya Cafe

825 W 69th St
Chicago, IL 60621

One of the more-unique coffeeshops in Chicago, Owner Phil Sipka came over from Robust Coffee Lounge to give Englewood a coffeeshop and alternative to fast food. He uses beans from Bridgeport Coffee.

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