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Chi Town Coffee: Intro

November 28, 2010

While I tried my best to tackle the Manhattan and Boston coffee scenes, I wasn’t confident that I was doing them justice– I’ve been specifically told that my NY posts (here and here) only hit the “main spots,” and I’m eager to try out some Kyoto or New Orleans style coffee next time I’m in the area. As for Boston, I wasn’t even able to get to most of the spots on my list.

But Chicago– this is my place. This is where my roots are, this is where I’m from. I love the city more than anything, more than almost any city in the world. Before you start complaining about how Chicago has nothing to offer, let me explain: Chicago’s charm lies in that you have to know where to go. You can’t just wander for blocks and blocks like in NYC, where it’s all chaos. But hop on the CTA and get off at a stop of your choice, and you WILL be rewarded: a strip of authentic Ethiopian restaurants and grocery stores, Mexican street musicians and vintage warehouses, or a tiny local farmer’s market you didn’t know existed.

Even though I’m from Hyde Park, which is kind of cut off from the rest of the city, I feel comfortable in saying that I’m pretty aware of the Chicago coffee scene.

Up until fairly recently, it was pretty hard to find non-Chicago roasters– Intelligentsia and Metropolis are the main competitors. However, Bagel on Damen (which I have yet to visit) serves Stumptown drip and both The Wormhole and Buzz Killer Espresso feature guest roasters. Ipsento is the only cafe I know of that roasts its own beans in house (Metropolis and Intelligentsia have bigger roaster plants).

I wasn’t able to visit all of these this Thanksgiving break, but here’s a general list:

(I’M AWARE THAT I’M LEAVING OUT CRUCIAL NEIGHBORHOODS: Logan Square and Pilsen, Belmont/Lakeview, Lincoln Park… and Evanston, even though that isn’t technically Chicago)

Hyde Park

The Loop

  • Intelligentsia (This also has a northside location)

Wicker Park/ Bucktown (again, very condensed: there are literally hundreds of great cafes in this area)

  • Filter
  • The Wormhole
  • Buzz Killer Espresso
  • Ipsento


  • The Coffee Studio

Lincoln Square (wasn’t able to visit this break!)

  • The Grind
  • Julius Meinl
  • Cafeneo (haven’t been here yet)


  • Metropolis

Whew, as you can see, you’re in for a marathon few posts. I’ll try my best to be clear and concise, with lots of latte art coffee porn for you to feast your eyes on.

I’ll be back home in December, and I’ll hopefully be able to fill the gaps on my list.

-Octopus Gourmet


2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2011 9:41 pm

    Come into Julius Meinl. I would love to treat you for coffee and share our story of Viennese Coffee!

    3601 N Southport Ave
    Chicago, Illinois 60613

    • January 26, 2011 11:16 pm

      I LOVE JULIUS MEINL! unfortunately, I’m not based in Chicago at the moment. I should be back at some point before summer though. I would absolutely love that.

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