Get Your Caffeine Fix From These 15 Great Chicago Coffee Shops

The Second City doesn’t play second fiddle when it comes to cafe culture

March 5, 2024 6:25 am
barista with long hair and apron making coffee behind the counter
Behind the counter at Intelligentsia

When you think of America’s best coffee cities, cloudy cafe-filled metropolises like Seattle and Portland immediately come to mind. Highly wired cities like Austin or San Francisco also grab the spotlight. But the City of Big Shoulders is no slouch in the coffee department. After all, we have our fair share of clouds, rain, and ambitious workers and university students looking for places to hang out, meet up and discuss the matters of the day. That said, here’s a list (comprehensive but surely not exhaustive) of Chicago’s best coffee shops. Not surprisingly, they’re all located in vibrant neighborhoods spanning this great city, providing the perfect excuse to drop in, grab a cup and use as a home base for exploring. 

Oromo Cafe

This cafe is named after the Oromo people of East Africa (in what’s now Ethiopia), who were the first people to cultivate coffee and consume it in social and ceremonial ways. They’re known for their Turkish coffee, prepared in a copper kettle over hot sand and accompanied by lokum, confections commonly known as Turkish Delights. Other surprises for the tastebuds include a Coconut Cubano (four espresso shots and coconut sugar), turmeric and ginger lattes, and tahini muffins. Oromo also specializes in homemade organic, vegan and gluten-free options, and a portion of their coffee sales support sustainable initiatives that offer livable wages, food and clean drinking water overseas in places like Guatemala.

4703 N. Lincoln Avenue

Orange paint and sign with coffee bean bags and coffee machines
Joe Rosenthal


Osmium is the third location (out of seven total) of Dark Matter Coffee, which focuses on sustainability and fair trade practices in addition to a great roast. The cafe was inspired by Parliament’s 1970 debut album, Osmium, and the Lakeview location prominently features the eye-catching mural work of Ohio-born artist Jason Brammar. It’s a narrow old building with high ceilings and a long wooden bar with seating that faces the baristas and stacks of orange and yellow mugs. There are plenty of tables as well, and when the cafe’s full, there’s an excellent buzz in the air. The menu also features draft iced coffee and drinking chocolate.

1117 W. Belmont Avenue


Founded in 1995 and now found in multiple cities and grocery stores nationwide, Intelligentsia is one of the better-known Chicago coffee brands. The Broadway flagship is their first and also one of the very first specialty coffee bars in Chicago. It’s a spacious and modern room that manages to retain an intimate feel, and its clean, minimalist vibe is perfectly in-line with the brand. Exposed bulbs hang from cords above the seating areas, countertops gleam against bright white walls and the air is filled with the aroma of Intelligentsia’s brews and the pleasant din of customers.

3123 N. Broadway


Located inside Green Street Smoked Meats, Sawada is the first U.S. coffee shop by highly-regarded latte master Hiroshi Sawada. It’s an interesting juxtaposition, with the cafe occupying an elevated entry area looking down upon the cavernous restaurant. The aromas of smoked meats, coffee, tea and matcha coalesce into an intriguing blend that immediately piques the senses. The innovative menu features a number of matcha drinks and a signature “military latte” that features green tea, espresso, vanilla and cocoa powder.  

112 N. Green Street

brick building green paint on wall, coffee sign mounted on wall, wooden crate
Joe Rosenthal


Independent roaster and Certified B Corp Metric has a cool little roastery and coffee shop in the Kinzie Corridor, tucked in among the warehouses. (It’s perfect for getting your fix while awaiting the forthcoming Avondale location this spring.) It has minimal indoor seating, but there’s a window view to the roasting area, merch and beans for sale, and outdoor tables for days when the Polar Vortex is at bay. Metric’s coffees are all roasted on their self-restored 1961 Probat UG 15.

2021 W. Fulton Street

Ipsento 606

Ipsento (a mashup of two Latin roots meaning “self” and “to discover”) is a stylish cafe that’s not only beautifully designed but located adjacent to a pocket park. The cafe’s huge windows allow nature and indoor to merge, while the tin ceiling and dark wood floors add a stately warmth. The Ipsento Latte is the best-seller, which features espresso, choice of milk, coconut cream, honey and cayenne; other lattes are flavored with lavender, cardamom rose and Nutella syrups. The cafe roasts their own beans and also serves coffee cocktails like Espresso Martinis (naturally). 

1813 N. Milwaukee Avenue

brick building with coffee sign, big windows with white curtains
Gaslight Coffee
Joe Rosenthal

Gaslight Coffee

Nestled in an old corner building where Milwaukee and Fullerton converge, Gaslight exudes history and grit. The triangular room sports wide-plank floors, exposed brick and beams, huge panes of glass looking out onto the avenues (excellent for people watching), and a glass block window set into the brickwork. Gaslight roasts its coffees in the back of the shop, and the menu is short but covers all the bases with sandwiches and light bites.

2385 N. Milwaukee Avenue

The 20 Best Record Stores in Chicago Right Now
The vinyl revival isn’t going anywhere. Here’s where to build your collection.
sunlight coming into dark room with red party streamers on windows
New Wave
New Wave Coffee

New Wave Coffee

New Wave has been open since 2007 and is one of the oldest third wave cafes in Logan Square. It’s a large space with exposed brick walls, lots of windows and indoor and outdoor tables, making it a great place to spread out, crack open a laptop and get some work done. Or just kick back and savor a cup of Chicago’s own Halfwit Coffee like so many Chicagoans have done for the past 17 years.  

2557 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Tala Coffee Roaster

Technically, this coffee shop is in the Chicago suburbs, but it’s earned a spot on this list by virtue of its exceptional roasts and wonderful design aesthetic. The new Winnetka location in a converted Texaco station feels like stepping into an Ed Ruscha painting, and it joins locations in Highwood and Libertyville, the latter of which is home their roastery. In addition to selecting and roasting their coffee, they make their syrups in-house and also serve excellent hot chocolate.

93 Green Bay Road, Winnetka

yellow coffee graphic on a white brick wall
Archive Visual Storytellers


Cupitol bill itself as an “easy going, all-day lounge,” designed for customers to get together over European-inspired baked goods and award-winning coffee, with locations in Evanston, Streeterville and the West Loop. The Evanston location is a capacious room featuring a mix of high-tops and tables, couches, and cushioned chairs. There’s a smell of food in the air (Cupital has a menu featuring everyday brunch items and fresh cold-pressed juices), and the atmosphere is festive, with Keith Haring-like patterns on the walls, lots of warm wood, white-painted brick, illuminated peace signs and a lofty ceiling.

812 Grove Street, Evanston

Metropolis Coffee Company

Metropolis’s flagship cafe has a well-loved feel, all bustle, warmth and more than a few scratches in the floor where suit jackets are interspersed with beanies and sweats. It’s an eclectic crowd: students studying Hobbes, families, small dogs, little kids and couples all enjoying a brew from the cafe’s own roastery. Fitting its history as a pioneer Chicago roaster, I overheard a young woman waiting for her drink talking about how her aunt used to come to Metropolis, and now she’s made it her place — that’s Metropolis in a nutshell.

1039 W. Granville Avenue

Big Shoulders

Big Shoulders was founded in 2012 and has grown to six Chicago locations. (Extra points for a great local name to match their local roast.) The West Town location is a triangular shop in a corner building with a long counter that sits against large pane windows, offering a view of the street. The walls sport white subway tile and works from local artists while blues music plays on the speakers. Wood floors and a triangle-shaped table lend a warm vibe to the airy space.

1105 W. Chicago Avenue

books and plants on shelves, vases with flowers on table
Third Season
Third Season

Third Season By The Roof Crop

Third Season is The Roof Crop’s new retail, coffee and apothecary shop. It’s part of a co-located business collective that includes Underscore Hospitality’s restaurant Maxwells Trading, The Roof Crop’s headquarters and a food and beverage innovation hub from Flashpoint Innovation. The small space is impeccably appointed and features a guest residency called “Paper Or Plastic,” offering a variety of printed matter and music from the 20th century like art books, vinyl, fiction and more. There’s also yarn colored with plant dyes and The Roof Crop’s very own honey. The shop features Metric coffee, The Roof Crop’s teas and honey, and precisely zero seats because the intention is for customers to peruse the shelves and visit the adjoining design studio and restaurant.    

1516 W. Carroll Avenue

16 framed pictures of albums on a brick wall
Overflow Coffee
Joe Rosenthal

Overflow Coffee

Overflow is located on South Michigan Avenue at roughly the same latitude as Soldier Field. The coffee shop resides in the former site of legendary Chicago record label Vee-Jay Records, home to John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, the Pips, the Four Seasons, the first U.S. Beatles release and many more. Fittingly, the cozy space plays host to live performances and pays homage to its history with framed records and other artwork. Alongside fresh pastries, Overflow serves Metric and Groundswell coffees and draws a crowd from nearby Columbia College and Jones College Prep.

1449 S. Michigan Avenue

Robust Coffee Lounge

Plein Air may grab more of the spotlight in Hyde Park, but this gem — located south of the University of Chicago campus in the Woodlawn neighborhood — is a worthy stop for visitors to the university or Museum of Science and Industry campus. (And it’s a stone’s throw from the forthcoming Barack Obama Presidential Library, which is slated to open in late 2025.) The aesthetic is concrete, corrugated steel and weathered wood, perfect complements to a full homestyle breakfast, lunch menu (dozens of sandwiches) and excellent cup, from their trademark honey nut latte to a hot mug of Joe.     

6300 S. Woodlawn Avenue


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.