These days, a good coffee shop is like a chocolate store for grown-up kids—and Chicago’s got plenty of both. Ever since Intelligentsia opened its first shop on Broadway Avenue in 1995, the local coffee scene has gradually transformed. It is now booming with neighborhood joints, many of which have established themselves as the best coffee shops in Chicago. Visit them for crafted lattes or smooth pour-overs, and chat with the knowledgeable baristas. At some cafés, the beans are roasted right in front of you. Whether you’re looking for a place to check email, meet with friends, or grab a cup to go, these are some of the best coffee shops in Chicago—downtown and beyond.
Bow Truss Coffee Roasters
With several locations around the city—including the Loop, Pilsen, Roscoe Village, and Lakeview—plus more set to open in 2016, Bow Truss is becoming a major force on the local craft coffee scene. The raw, wood-and-metal décor of the shops seems to convey a “we mean business” approach. Indeed, the roaster focuses on single-origin and direct-trade coffee. Try their nitro-tap cold brew at the Roscoe location.
Big Shoulders Coffee
The owner of this low-key café in River West has been roasting its beans for about 20 years. As a result, Big Shoulders is among the best coffee shops in Chicago. Enjoy your coffee beverage—served in one-size-fits-all cups—in the bright and modern space, or choose from a selection of artisan teas and pastries. As you’re walking in, look out for the owner roasting beans in the store window.
The Wormhole Coffee
A staple in the list of the best coffee shops in Chicago, this ’80s-themed coffee shop in Wicker Park features movie posters, a vintage gaming platform and … a certain time-traveling sports car. Besides strong coffee from HalfWit and featured guest roasters, you can get seasonal beverages, cereal, and pastries until 11 p.m. daily. Thanks to the opening hours, the Wormhole is popular with students and creatives, but comfy couches make it a good meet-a-friend spot, too.
Gaslight Coffee Roasters
When you enter Gaslight Coffee Roasters, this rustic corner shop in Logan Square, you notice exposed-brick walls, reclaimed wood furniture, and lots of natural light coming from floor-to-ceiling windows. The communal table in the back is popular with customers looking to do work, but there is room at the counter if you just want to sip coffee (made from beans roasted on site) and relax. Premium teas and a gourmet breakfast/lunch menu are also available. If you need something sweet, try a selection of pastries, or hot chocolate that can rival that of any chocolate store in town.
Metropolis Coffee Company
Tucked away in the far North Side neighborhood of Edgewater, Metropolis Coffee Company is a cozy cafe decorated with local art that’s popular with Loyola University students and area residents. It’s worth the trek on the L-train for great coffee roasted daily, premium teas, and a small food menu. Relax in one of the three rooms of the vintage 1950s limestone building, or bring a cup to the nearby Berger Park on the shore of Lake Michigan.