I’ve never met anyone who loves Starbucks coffee. The Seattle chain spreads through Chicago like head lice in a preschool. Therefore, it’s the most convenient option. I get it. Still, I’ve never met anyone who actually enjoys the taste of a Starbucks cup. This phenomenon is a lesson in pure marketing genius. What’s in the cup may be crap, but you’re assured that crap will be made the exact same way wherever you go in the world; the corporate coffeehouse experience is dependable.
Surrounded by independent cafes offering a much better product, fresh bakery, and not to mention ambiance and culture why would anyone in Chicago settle for less? We deserve better – or at least I do. (You do too!)
4 Reasons Why Indie Coffeehouses Deserve Your Bucks
Where everybody knows your name
My barista knows my name, the way I like my coffee, and he has it ready when I get there. He also knows my husband’s name, my parent’s vacation schedule, and which project I’m tackling at work. So, yea, maybe he’s a stalker. Still, he keeps me punctual and I appreciate that.
Teenagers stress me out
So, I avoid them when I can. Our local Starbucks always looks like a high school cafeteria between the hours 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and then again somewhere between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. The conversations that buzz through that place during those times sound like the analytical breakdown of an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I can’t. and. I. won’t.
My thoughts are louder than the Muzak
I once read that the Age of Enlightenment began in the 17th century not because of Isaac Newton or Voltaire, but because that’s when the first coffeehouse opened (HA!). For sure, one can better picture Isaac Newton forming the idea of gravity while sipping coffee near an apple tree in Cambridge than him forming any original idea to Beyoncé’s Crazy in Love. Repeat after me: “If I can’t hear myself think, from here I will not drink.”
So fresh and so clean
My raspberry rugelach was made in the kitchen an hour ago. I can see the kitchen. I know it’s clean. I can smell the baking. I know it’s fresh. Your butter croissant may be hot and so you think it’s fresh – but it’s not. That croissant was put together by a machine a day (or three) ago, packed onto a truck, and delivered to your coffeehouse sometime this week. That’s not fresh.
Chicago’s 4 Best Coffee Shops (…in my opinion)
The Wormhole (Wicker Park)
Needing no introduction, Wormhole tops every list of best Chicago coffeehouses. The décor is 80s sci-fi. The coffee’s really good. Ask for the “pour over”. It’s kinda their thing. 1462 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Caffe Streets (Wicker Park)
Wicker Park is where I’m prone to go for great coffee and Caffe Streets is the coffee house I keep going back to. Aside from its beautiful ceiling and mod interior, the WiFi here is strong, and the coffee is exceptional (they brew Chicago’s own Metric Coffee). It’s my favorite office away from office. 1750 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622
Filter (Wicker Park)
Aside from its extremely reliable wi-fi connection, Filter has great coffee and a friendly staff of committed baristas. 1373 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642
Blue Max (Forest Park)
Another suburban jewel, Blue Max is known equally for their coffee as they are for their food. Full menu served daily. 26 Lathrop Ave, Forest Park, IL 60130
I was in Filter Café a few weeks ago feeling a bit like the thing that didn’t belong. I feel that way sometimes in WP whenever I’m surrounded by tormented artists and aloof hipsters, which are all regulars at Filter. My insecurities were immediately invalidated when the barista recognized me – from his childhood. We were in the same band back in middle school. To give you an idea of how random this moment was, I attended a small middle school in a Wisconsin suburb. He was a class ahead of me and I look a lot different than I did back then. My point? I don’t have one. Have a great day!