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Caffeination Destination: Ipsento

January 21, 2011

Time Out Chicago, why did you have to beat me to a list of Chicago Cafes?

For non-Chicago readers: Time Out’s most recent issue features on the evolution of Chicago coffee, from best pourovers to quirkiest cafes to “barista crushes.” I felt a surge of pride to see that I had visited at least 60% of the cafes on the list. Plus, an article about pourover coffee categorizes people like me, “who, every morning, grind beans, heat water in a kettle and slowly pour the water over the grounds, which are housed in a special dripper—a time-consuming process called pour-over, brewed one cup at a time.” Apparently, i am “absolutely nuts.”

So I suppose you could just go read this issue of Time Out for cafes I’ve reviewed like Istria and The Wormhole, but I’m going to go on and pretend I never read it and just get on with this review.

My favorite cafe in the entire world is Soma in Bloomington, Indiana, where I spent a summer a couple years ago. If you read my Ode to Soma, you’ll know that it has amazing food, perfect cappuccinos, and chocolate-covered espresso bean dispensers. Even though I’ve had some amazing coffee in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Boston, and even Bali, I have yet to find a cafe where I both enjoy the coffee and feel so at home.

Ipsento is probably the closest it gets. Yeah, it’s in Bucktown, but not quite in Wicker Park– it’s just a block or two away from the Western Blue Line Stop. Yeah, there are fixies parked in front and an abundance of hipsters, but the cafe itself is just cozy. There are couches, local artwork, and an aquamarine-tinted back room for more studious clientele.

Better yet, they roast their own beans, and the roaster is in plain view. They do Clever pourovers, French press, regular drip, and espresso, with signature drinks like “The Ipsento” (a latte with coconut milk and honey– “sassy” with cayenne, “sissy” without). I recently bought a pound of their Sulawesi for pourover, which turned out really differently from Intelligentsia’s, which is much fruitier. Ipsento’s was much fuller bodied and earthy, good for mornings and afternoons.

If I had the time and didn’t live so far away, this would be my go-to place. It doesn’t have Soma’s vegan linzer cookies or bathroom, but it has the “enchanted living room feel” down.

Let me fall into a caffeinated stupor (is such a thing possible?) and never wake up.

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