I take my coffee very seriously. I will gladly go out of my way, 30 minutes or more, for expertly roasted beans and a properly prepared cup of java. Just as important, is finding cool coffee shops where I can settle in, escape and enjoy my caffeine. Groovy tunes are a bonus. After careful research, I give to you, my lovely readers, the 30 Coolest Chicago Coffee Spots, by CTA ‘L’ line:
**** [EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was originally published on March 14, 2016, and updated on September 29, 2016. This latest update includes six(6) more groovy coffee spots! They are highlighted within the text in RED.]
CTA Brown Line:
Heritage Bicycles (2959 N. Lincoln Ave.) – Lakeview – You don’t have to be in the market for a locally made bike or related gear to appreciate this retro, cute-as-a-button coffee shop. Grab a decadent pastry or chocolate bar and top off your coffee with various types of milk stored in an old stove up front. Great music always fills the space here. So bring your laptop and get some work done. – Five blocks west and 1/2 block south of Diversey ‘L’ stop.
Eva’s Café (1447 N. Sedgwick St.) – Old Town – This is THE COZIEST and most comfortable coffee house in Chicago.
The brick floor, kitschy decor, and living room vibe make this an exceptional spot to enjoy some java, pastries, and sandwiches. You’ll feel like you’re at grandma’s house. They always play a good mix of music, and there is not a screaming kid in sight. Score! It’s a perfect place to hide out. – One block south of the Sedgwick ‘L’ stop.
Next Door Café (659 W. Diversey Parkway) – Lincoln Park – A large community space serving coffee and café fare. However, this is a free community space that does not require you buy anything to enjoy the free Wi-Fi. Very cool! All kinds of free classes and coaching sessions are available here. Stop by and check out their huge chalkboard of upcoming events, including live sets by local musicians. Reserve a private room for a meeting (for free). – Six blocks east of the Diversey ‘L’ stop.
Asado Coffee @ Pickwick Lane (22 E. Jackson Blvd.) – The Loop – This adorable spot made it onto my recent post about Chicago’s Hidden Eats because it’s located at the end of an alley in a historic building that dates back to The Chicago Fire. Blink, and you’ll miss it! The building is one of the smallest in Chicago. Asado can only accommodate two or three people at a time, so you must grab your coffee to-go or sit in the charming ally, adorned with lights. This place has a real European feel. – One block south and 1/2 block west of the Adams/Wabash ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Brown, Orange and Green Lines.
Toni Patisserie (65 E. Washington St.) – The Loop – Speaking of a European feel, Toni Patisserie has got it, too. This charming French bakery and cafe is just the respite you’ll need after a busy day in The Loop or walking along Michigan Avenue. Most locals and visitors miss this tiny oasis. Why not order some macaroons or a croque madame with your coffee? – One block south and 1/2 block east of the Randolph/Wabash ‘L” stop, along the CTA Brown, Purple, Pink, Orange and Green Lines.
Goddess & The Baker (33 S. Wabash) – The Loop – This bright and lively bakery is tucked under the ‘L’ tracks in the heart of The Loop. Seriously, the rumble of the trains overhead adds to the overall aesthetic and energy of the coffee served inside. Don’t forget to order some food and get some work done while you are here. The sweets and the savories are drool-worthy! – 1 1/2 blocks north of the Adam/Wabash ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Brown, Orange and Green Lines
CTA Blue Line:
Ipsento (2035 N. Western Ave.) – Bucktown – This spot is more coffee shop than a coffeehouse. It’s tiny but always busy. There is a small nook in the back where you can take a load off. Or, choose one of the few window seats at the front of the shop. They are a local coffee roaster, and their roasts are fantastic. Get the signature Ipsento Latte made with a blend of espresso, coconut milk, dairy milk (substitute almond or soy milk, if you prefer), honey and cayenne. Cafe sandwiches are available. Ipsento offers interesting coffee classes. Five blocks north of the Western ‘L’ stop.
Cup & Spoon (2415 W. North Avenue) – Humboldt Park – This coffee house with great natural light is serving up locally roasted beans in a truly cozy space filled with the work of local artists. Choose a table or a counter stool. Grab a bite to eat, chat with the neighbors, enjoy the free Wi-Fi. – Ten short blocks south of the Western ‘L’ stop.
Café Mustache (2313 N. Milwaukee Ave.) – Logan Square – I love this place! It’s not just for coffee. Fancy some global tea leaves? Midwestern artisanal spirits and microbrews? A cup of gumbo? This place has it all. Only vinyl records are spun here, while you hang out or get work done. A separate room hosts musical acts in the evenings. – One block north of the California ‘L’ stop.
Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits – (2051 N. California Ave.) – Logan Square – Technically, this is not a coffeehouse. It’s a pie shop/ cafe serving up house made, sweet & savory pies, fabulous biscuits, and awesome, locally roasted coffee. There is no cuter spot to hunker down on a cold, snowy day. In the summer, hang out in the cozy, neighborhood “pie garden.” During the week, I like to chill out here early in the morning with my laptop. Yum! – Three blocks south of the California ‘L’ stop.
Caffe Streets – (1750 W. Division) – Wicker Park – Super, high-quality coffee by Metric and lovely, herbal teas are the draw at this hip coffee house in Wicker Park – 7 blocks west of the Division ‘L’ stop
CTA Red Line:
Caffé Umbria – (346 N. Clark St.) – River North – This Italian coffee café with a few seats is located in the Thompson Building, near the Chicago River. It’s not only one of the coolest Chicago coffee spots, but it also reminds me of the many tiny coffee shops I visited in Italy. They are a local coffee roaster out of Washington State and Oregon. Their coffee and espresso are blended from beans cultivated in Brazil, Africa, and Europe. They are one of the few coffee shops which offer light, medium and dark roast coffees, as well as light, medium and dark espresso. I love the mocha piccante and the tall and tasty nocciola drinks. Don’t forget the sweet treats from the local bakeries served here. – 3 1/2 blocks south and two blocks west of the Grand ‘L’ stop.
Beatrix (519 N. Clark St.) – River North – Located inside the Aloft Hotel, Beatrix is a restaurant first and foremost. They just happen to have a fabulous coffee bar which includes a stellar pastry selection. I dare you to resist the many decadent treats here. The coffee selection includes roasts from local Chicago giant, Metropolis. A unique antioxidant blend by Bulletproof is also available. A fabulous fresh-squeezed juice menu is also available. – Two blocks west of the Grand ‘L’ stop.
Cafe Integral – (19 East Ohio St.) – River North – This clandestine spot is tucked inside the Freehand Hotel. Sit at the long communal table up front or get cozy in one of the comfy chairs in the dark nooks and crannies in the back. You will love the Nicaraguan coffee roasts and fare being served up here. Grab a seat, and the friendly staff will bring you your treats right to you. – One block north and 1/2 east of the Grand ‘L’ stop.
Baker & Nosh – (1303 W. Wilson Ave.) – Uptown – This wonderful bakery/cafe is a bright spot in this north side neighborhood. Set inside a 90-year-old building, all fare is house made and features fresh bread from their on-site bakery. The coffee selection by La Colombe Torrefaction (my favorite roast) is equally lovely. Interested in baking classes? Baker & Nosh has you covered! Sit in the cute front yard during the warmer months. – Four blocks west of the Wilson ‘L’ stop.
[UPDATE: JULY 22,2017 – BAKER & NOSH has closed. I hope they find a new location soon.]
Hendrickx Belgian Bakery (100 E. Walton – The Gold Goast – This is the only Belgian bakery in Chicago, and it is also on my list of Chicago’s Hidden Eats. It is often overlooked near the Magnificent Mile and Bloomingdales (across the street). Drop by for some java, an insanely good chocolate croissant or some light lunch. It’s a great place to hide from the world. – Four blocks north and three blocks east of the Chicago ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Red Line.
Osmium Coffee Bar – (1117 W. Belmont – Lincoln Park) This place is set up like a bar but with coffee! In the warmer months take your caffeine obsession onto the outside patio. Impressive Dark Matter coffee creations are king here like the “Wake and Bake” made with maple syrup, sage, and black pepper. Or, try the “Gingersnap Trainwreck.” – 2 1/2 blocks west of the Belmont ‘L’ stop (Purple and Brown Lines stop here, too).
First Slice Pie Cafe – 5357 N. Ashland) – Andersonville – This is my new happy place! Who doesn’t love amazing pie? Sweet. Savory. First Slice Pie Cafe has you covered with both kind of pies that are among the freshest and most delicious I’ve ever had. The coffee is mighty tasty, too. This corner cafe is as cute as a button, and you can ogle and buy artwork from local artists. The other great thing that makes First Slice so special is that every dollar you spend goes back to feeding the hungry within the community. Lovely!! – One block north and 8 blocks west of the Berwyn ‘L’ stop at the corner of Balmoral and Ashland.
Cafe Press – (800 S. Clark) – South Loop – This cute little spot is off the beaten path, and it opens early. It’s quiet, cozy and the perfect place to get some work done. – Two blocks south and two blocks west of the Harrison ‘L’ stop
CTA Green Line:
La Colombe – (955 West Randolph St.) – West Loop – This location of the Philadelphia-based coffee-roasters is located on the bustling corner of Morgan and Randolph Streets, along “Restaurant Row.” La Colombe is my favorite coffee roast, and this outpost is a bright and cool spot to grab a cup of the brew while catching up with friends, or people-watching. – One block south of the Morgan ‘L’ stop.
Little Goat Bakery – (820 West Randolph St.) – West Loop – “Top Chef” winner, Stephanie Izard, added this bakery/coffee bar to her “goat” empire: Girl & the Goat, Little Goat Diner and Duck, Duck, Goat). It is open very early at 6 am (7 am on weekends), and it’s a great spot to get Stumptown coffee (Portland, Oregon), oatmeal, full breakfast and decadent baked goods. – Three blocks east and one block south of the Morgan ‘L’ stop.
Jupiter Outpost (1139 W. Fulton Market) – This is a funky, little, rustic spot with local artwork and light fare in the industrial section of the West Loop. They feature Caffe Umbria coffee – 1 block north and three blocks west of the Morgan ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Green and Pink Lines.
The Market by Foxtrot (1019 W. Lake St.) – This quirky, gourmet grocery store is an odd little spot in the West Loop. The coffee bar is located in the center of the space, and there is a communal table with an adjacent cozy living room where you can enjoy your caffeine in comfy style. – One block west of the Morgan ‘L’ stop, along the Green and Pink Lines.
Sawada – (112 N. Green St.) – West Loop – This huge loft with a farmhouse feel is a funky addition to Chicago’s trendy West Loop neighborhood. The coffee is robust and creative – 1 block south and three blocks east of the Morgan ‘L’ stop (Pink Line stops here, too)
CTA Orange Line:
Bridgeport Coffeehouse – (3101 S. Morgan St.) – Bridgeport – A favorite coffee roaster in Chicago. They sell their bag of beans all over this city. This headquarter café has bright, cozy seating in the front and back of the house. They are serving up fairly traded coffee and light fare. I get a lot of work done in the back room space. Seven blocks south and three blocks east of Halsted ‘L’ stop. The #8 Halsted bus stops three blocks east.
Overflow Coffee Shop – (1550 S. State St.) – South Loop – I am so proud that this place is in my neighborhood. If you are down with fairly traded coffee (they use local roaster, Ipsento) and preservative-free ingredients, this Chicago coffee spot is for you. Brandon and Amanda Neely work hard to make sure the farmer’s who cultivate the coffee beans are earning 25% more than the fair-trade rat, and they are sharing the wealth and giving back to communities near and far.
The space where Overflow is located is a shared one and, surprisingly, this is the only true coffeehouse in the South Loop. They are “Changing the World, One Cup at a time. – 3 1/2 blocks south of the Roosevelt ‘L’ stop (Green and Red lines stop here as well). #29 State bus and #62 Archer bus will take you here.
Kristoffer’s Cafe & Bakery (1733 S. Halsted) – Pilsen – If you love tres leches cake with your coffee, this is the place for you! This family-run cafe is adored by residents who are “in-the-know” and Chef Rick Bayliss (Frontera, Topolobampo, Xoco, Leña Brava). The phenomenal tres leches cakes and slices served here are also sold to several Mexican restaurants in Chicago. Run! Don’t walk 🙂 – 6 1/2 blocks north of the Halsted ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Orange Line. The #8 Halsted and #62 buses stop out front.
Little Branch Cafe (1251 S. Prairie Ave) – South Loop – This secret spot also made my list of Chicago’s Hidden Eats because it is located inside a high-rise condo, off of Michigan Avenue, near Museum Campus. It is one of the best places to enjoy massive amounts of coffee and a hot breakfast or lunch while listening to a well-curated playlist of music. Another great thing about Little Branch is that is the best place to be on a cold and snowy day with views of the cute townhouses from the window. – One block south and two blocks east of the Roosevelt ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Orange, Green and Red Lines.
Dollop (343 S. Dearborn) – Dollop has a few locations in Chicago, but I dig the relaxed vibe of this place in The Loop underneath the train tracks. They serve Metropolis coffee, lovely pastry and a light menu. It’s a bright, modern spot that opens at 6:30 am for you early risers! – At the Harold Washington Library ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Orange Line.
Jackalope Coffee and Tea House – (755 W. 32nd St.) – Bridgeport – This charming spot serves fun and strong coffee drinks as well as great pastries and sandwiches. It is an entirely kitschy place to hang out. A nearby neighbor, Bridgeport Bakery supplies some of the yummy sweets. Artwork by local artists is available for purchase- 8 blocks south of the Halsted ‘L’ stop or take the #8 Halsted bus here
There you have them, folks! Hop the rails and buses to these 30 Coolest Chicago Coffee Spots. How many have you tried? Do you have a favorite coffee spot in Chicago? I would love to hear all about it! Leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA trains and buses to these “30 Coolest Chicago Coffee Spots.” Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!