Coffee Culture in Chicago: 7 Best Coffee Shops

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There are so many unique cafes and coffee shops scattered throughout the Windy City. We wrote this guide to take a closer look at some of the best spots in Chicago to grab a delicious cup of coffee and immerse yourself in the local coffee culture.

It’s no surprise that Chicago’s coffee scene continues to grow and thrive. From the bustling downtown Loop to the charming neighborhoods, Chicago is a city that loves its coffee.

Coffee Culture in Chicago

Starbucks Reserve Roastery 

📍646 Michigan Ave

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery is the world’s largest and is located on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Once you enter, you know right away that you are in for a unique and immersive experience at one of the best coffee roasters in the city.  The roaster can be seen on the first floor and allows visitors to see the coffee-making process from start to finish.

The Roastery has five floors with a sweeping variety of coffee drinks, pastries, and food items. It’s also a great place to relax, socialize, work, or study. From the upper floors, the views of Michigan Avenue capture the essence of the hustle and bustle of urban life.

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Chicago is a one-of-a-kind experience that is sure to impress even the most discerning coffee lover.

Starbucks sources its coffee beans from include Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Rwanda, and Sumatra, among others.

Afro Joe’s Coffee & Tea

📍1818 W 99th St

This hidden cafe on the Southside of Chicago is a true gem. It’s cozy coffee shop has a rustic atmosphere that makes it perfect for catching up with old friends or having meetings.

Undoubtedly one of the best black-owned coffee shops in Chicago, the food is also great. Notable options included the veggie quiche, avocado toast, Old West wrap, and a cucumber and tomato salad for added tanginess. In terms of drinks, there is Matcha Tea, Arnold Palmer, and amazing coffee that goes down perfectly!

You’ll be greeted with great hospitality. They are welcoming and make you feel part of the community. The workspace is well-lit and spacious which makes it a great place to study or have some office time away from the office. The coffee is so good

Intelligentsia Coffee

📍53 E Randolph St | 53 W Jackson | 3123 N Broadway | 2642 N Milwaukee

A true Chicago institution, Intelligentsia Coffee first opened its doors in 1995 and has since become synonymous with quality coffee throughout the city. With multiple locations across Chicago, including its flagship Millennium Park location is one of the best in downtown Chicago. There is also a cozy Logan Square outpost on Milwaukee Ave, so you’ll never be far from one of their expertly brewed cups of coffee.

Their coffee has a deep and rich flavor with an earthy aroma. Their signature coffee drinks like Cold Coffee Colada are worth the spend. They also have a rotating brewed-to-order selection. At Millenium Park, you can enjoy nice views from the coffee bar. It’s great coffee and tea and lots of unique variety and monthly specials.

Intelligentsia sources its coffee beans from countries and regions known for producing high-quality coffee, such as Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, Rwanda, and Tanzania, among others.

Worm Hole

📍1462 N Milwaukee | 1956 N Western

If you’re looking for a unique coffee experience in Chicago, Wormhole Coffee in Wicker Park is the place to visit. This retro-inspired coffee shop is decked out in vintage memorabilia and even features a DeLorean parked inside! The real star, however, is their impressive selection of single-origin pour-overs and creative specialty lattes.

If you want to soak up the local atmosphere when you visit Chicago, head to this vibrant coffee shop found in the Wicker Park neighborhood. It is a favorite with locals and is now a fun place to hang out where you can enjoy Spirit Iced Tea or roasted Dollop coffee. The retro feel with the DeLorean parked on top of the store sprinkled with Star War figurines give Back to the Future meets Urkel vibes.

chicago coffee culture

La Colombe

📍4 E Elm Street | 858 Armitage Ave | 1552 N. Damen Ave | 5158 N. Clark St | 955 West Randolph Street

Originating from Philadelphia, La Colombe has quickly established itself as a favorite among Chicago coffee lovers. With several locations throughout the city, including the Gold Coast, Wicker Park, and the West Loop, La Colombe serves up delicious espressos paired with fresh pastries in their warm and inviting cafes.

This is where true coffee aficionados will feel at home. La Colombe offers a huge choice of fantastic brews prepared using different techniques; this includes their best sellers — triple latte and cold brew. Their brewing methods extract the best taste from the beans.

A wide variety of pastries are also available, as well as a wide range of seating. You can either spread out at a table and watch the world go by, or hang out and converse with friends.

Some of the countries where La Colombe sources its coffee beans from include Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Rwanda, and Tanzania, among others.

Dark Matter

📍738 N Western | 2521 W Chicago | 1117 W Belmont | 601 W Jackson

Known for its unique blends and limited edition offerings, Dark Matter is a must-visit for any coffee aficionado visiting Chicago. Their flagship location, “Electric Mud,” located in Ukrainian Village (1856 N Western) is a perfect spot to enjoy one of their signature brews while soaking in the eclectic atmosphere.

There is no shortage of eclectic spots to sip your favorite brew. The “Mothership” (738 N Western) and “Sleep Walk Chocolateria” (1844 S. Blue Island) make you want to indulge in a coffee blend adventure that will transport your taste buds to new heights of delight.

This coffee shop gets high marks from every location (so they are doing it right)! From my personal experience, they consistently serve great coffee. Chicagoan’s rave about Dark Matter Coffee.

Dark Matter Coffee sources its coffee beans from various regions around the world, including South America, Central America, Africa, and Asia.

Sawada Coffee

📍112 N Green St

Located inside Green Street Smoked Meats in the West Loop, Sawada Coffee is the brainchild of award-winning barista Hiroshi Sawada. Fusing elements of American and Japanese coffee culture, this unique cafe offers a range of attention-grabbing lattes (try the Military Latte), cortados, and cappuccinos, paired with a selection of camouflage Doughnut Vault doughnuts alongside traditional drip coffee and pour-overs.

Cortados and cappuccinos differ primarily in that cortados are made with two espressos and milk, while cappuccinos use a single espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. Contrary to cappuccinos, cortados are less creamy and have a stronger coffee flavor.

Speaking of camouflage, try the Military Latte. Vanilla, espresso, and milk are blended with matcha, cocoa powder, and espresso powder. You’ll like the earthiness of the matcha, the subtle sweetness of the vanilla and cocoa powder, and the subtle creamy texture of the milk.

Final Thoughts on Chicago’s Coffee Culture

Chicago’s coffee culture gives residents and visitors alike countless opportunities to savor a delicious cup of joe. From cutting-edge espresso bars to nostalgic throwback cafes, the Windy City has something for every coffee enthusiast.

So, the next time you’re craving an expertly brewed beverage, make sure to check out these standout coffee shops that make up the heart of Chicago’s coffee culture.

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