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Decent Coffee in Chicago


Will be visiting Chicago for just under a week from Australia and was just wondering where to get a good coffee eg espresso or cappuccino.

I am not a big fan of starbucks. Has anyone got any other recommendations?

Your help is much appreciated.


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  1. Julius Meinl make a fantastic cup of coffee. There's only one in the city, though, and if you're not staying in the area it'll likely be too far of a trek just to get a cup of coffee:


    In terms of large chains that can be found throughout the city, there's also Caribou and Dunkin Donuts. There's not a great deal of difference, though, among the three. Caribou is set up more like a Starbucks cafe, while Dunkin Donuts tends to be a little seedier and not as pleasant an environment. Of the three, I tend to prefer Caribou, but usually not enough to go out of my way for it.

    What area are you staying in? Perhaps someone familiar with that region could tip you off to a small local shop.

    1. I think the best cup of coffee in Chicago is Intelligentsia coffee. They buy beans from around the world and roast it daily. There are three locations in Chicago- one of which is at Millennium Park. http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/r...

      1. I second the intelligentsia recommendation - if you're staying in the Loop, it's impossible to walk by the Jackson Blvd. location without being drawn in. The aroma is outrageously good, and the baristas are skilled and attentive. Not sure if the Loop location is open on weekends, though.

        A lot of people really like Bourgeois Pig, on Fullerton in Lincoln Park. I find it quite enjoyable - certainly far better than Starbuck's - but not as "wowie" as a lot of people think.

        1. Third on Intelligentsia, which is both a brand and as mentioned above has outlets in the Loop (the one on Jackson is closed on weekends, but the Randolph street outlet is open).

          Metropolis, roasted in Chicago, is another brand you should look for, offered by some independent cafes (and restaurants).

          Caribou, as indicated above, is kind of a low-key version of Starbucks.

          Dunkin' Donuts is a franchise chain at the level of McDonalds whose coffee (particularly caps and expressos) is usually several levels below Starbucks and should be avoided except in emergencies.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jbw

            In defense of Dunkin Doughnuts, their regular American Style coffee (far better than McDonalds) is quite smooth and tasty but forget the rest of their coffee drinks.

            Caribou is only so so. Metropolis and Intelligentsia are tops!

            1. re: amoncada

              Will be attending a conference at the Four Seasons (Ritz Carlton)
              160 East Pearson Street. Are Metropolis and Intelligentsia near here?

              1. re: emoliash

                Argo Tea isn't too far from there at all. It's very nice.

          2. Intelligentsia is, by far, Chicago's best known and certainly among it's best quality, coffee roasters. The have three shops in Chicago (plus one in Los Angeles), each with a slightly different 'personality.' One is trendy, near Millenium Park. One is the the historic Mondnock (spelling?) Bulding, The largest is on Broadway, a little farther up north. Great coffee, and you will see it discussed often on CoffeeGeek and Home-Barista web sites.

            Metropolis, farther up north is also well know and respected.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ah81

              I've heard that the Intelligentsia on Randolph has a Clover. Can anyone confirm or deny this? Has anyone had the coffee from that machine?

              1. re: Fry

                Both the Randolph and Monadnock locations have Clover machines.

            2. I agree with both Julius Meinl and Intelligensia, but I don't think you can forget about Peets -- one in the shopping mall on North Avenue just west of Clybourn where Whole Foods is.. Another one in downtown Evanston. There may be more.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chicgail

                I agree with Intelligentsia as one of the best in the city. However, it is a bit more expensive than Peet's which I find equally good, if not better. Peet's is more low key than the Intellentsia location if you want something more quiet and peaceful.
                Plus they have great teas too!

              2. While I agree that Intelligentsia is by far the best--I drink a french-pressed brew every morning--there is an Argo Tea 3 blocks from the hotel. Argo serves Italian Illy coffee and it's a very nice espresso and morning cappucino. It's located on the corner of Rush St and Pearson (I think) In any event it's one block north of Chicago Ave on Rush St.

                That being said, Intelligentsia is served in many restaurants. Since you're from Australia, I suggest spending a few minutes getting acquainted with ethnic foods that are not likely in your normal sphere. I always "take conference calls" during conferences that allow me a couple hours to skip out of meetings and explore new cities. To start you thinking, and keeping with the Intelligentsia coffee thread, try a mexican themed breakfast at Flo's on West Chicago Ave--a 12 minute taxi from your hotel. During the week there should not be a wait for a table (unlike on weekends), you can have a great breakfast burrito or a chorizo scramble and a good cup of Intelligentsia coffee. Much better than the Continental breakfast you'll be served at the conference and you can still make the morning session (albeit a few minutes late).


                Enjoy your trip to Chicago.