There isn’t a day that goes by in which I don’t drink an espresso. It is essential for my AM routine. Thankfully, there are many worthy places to get a good brew in Chicago. After the coffee itself, I am most interested in cute, aesthetically pleasing places inside which I can actually consume the coffee. Maybe it’s the stylish light fixtures or that funky wallpaper, but whatever sparks your photo inspiration, there are some Chicago coffee shops that have the whole aesthetic thing down to a science.
In a city with as much passion for food & drink as Chicago, coffee shops can’t just be a pretty Instagram backdrop. They’ve got to deliver on excellent caffeinated goods that will keep discerning local aficionados happy and coming back for more. I’ve written other coffee shop guides from my travels, like in San Diego or Kansas City; but I’ve never featured my favorite coffee shops in Chicago on the blog. Until today!
We’ve all spent two years in our houses, and I don’t know about you, but I miss being out in public. I miss the atmosphere of coffee shops–the chatter of friends catching up, the steaming of milk for a latte, the laptop typing of remote workers. It’s a feeling that even the world’s most expensive at home espresso machine can’t replicate. When you’re in the mood to chill in a coffee shop sipping a cold brew or downing your third espresso, why not spend time in a place that is both beautiful and delicious?!?!
Where to Find the Most Instagrammable Coffee Shops in Chicago
Local Insider's Best Chicago Coffee Picks
During my 5 years living in Logan Square, Damn Fine Coffee was around the corner from my apartment. It was my favorite neighborhood joint! Damn Fine uses the fragrant Halfwit Coffee Roasters beans, and its specialty is espresso. Needless to say, I frequented Damn Fine, and damn if it isn’t delicious. The minimalist industrial interior features exposed brick and some quirky vintage prints with a space age theme. Their shop is fairly small (and it has been restricted to take out only for most of the pandemic) so it is mostly a grab-and-go operation. I would typically walk over to start my day with their double shot espresso and happily return home fueled up – usually with a baked treat in tow.
If there is one Instagrammable Chicago coffee shop you’ve already seen on your feed, it is probably Hero Coffee’s Downtown location. The oversized coffee sign, Parisian tables and bistro lights are iconic. So much more than a pretty exterior, Hero Coffee brews up some excellent espresso and gives back to the community while doing it! The cafe works with Chicago-based non-profits to host volunteer events for park beautification and tree planting projects on the city’s south side. The most popular drink is the Maple Brulee latte which features blow-torched sugar to create that characteristic bruleed topping. You’ll find plenty of non-dairy alternatives here too.
This Bucktown coffee shop is located next to the 606 bike path and it is a popular place for digital nomads and home office workers. You can expect a buzzy vibe in the cavernous space with 20 foot ceilings. The entire side of the building is covered in a giant mural and the garage door window opens vertically to offer lovely views over the corner park. Perfectly prepared straight-up black espresso and cold brew are the name of the game here. Although Ipsento 606 is best known for its caffeinated beverages, it also has some noteworthy doughnuts that are worth the splurge. I even mentioned them in my Chicago’s Best Doughnuts Guide, because the creative flavors like cinnamon pumpkin or sage maple blueberry are seriously delish.
This is always my go-to coffee shop on Sunday mornings before wandering through the Logan Square Farmer’s Market, thanks to its convenient location on the corner of Kedzie and Milwaukee. It is also a nice meeting spot for anyone coming into the city on the Blue Line, which has a major station across the street. As the name suggestions, Passion House is passionate about coffee. They roast their own house-made blends, and the knowledgable staff can provide recommendations suited for your taste. They always have a nitro cold brew on tap, and their pastries from fellow Logan Square restaurants are delicious. If you love their coffee, you can even get the beans on subscription!
Situated directly across the street from the Instagrammable Chicago coffee shop mentioned below, you can easily visit both Sawada and Allis on the same stop. You’ll find Sawada located in a strange area, nestled inside a barbecue restaurant above a ramen shop. But don’t let the odd location be off-putting – this is one of the best coffee shops in Chicago. It is most well-known for its Military Latte which was developed by Japanese latte art master Hiroshi Sawada. The name comes from the characteristic blended green and brown colors of green tea, vanilla syrup, cocoa powder, and a shot of espresso. The flavor is smooth and balanced with a grassiness that cuts through any sweetness from the syrup. Definitely something unique to try!
Probably the swankiest of all the coffee shops on this menu, the Allis is located inside the Soho House Hotel. Not to worry, you are not required to be a member of the Soho House or a guest at the hotel to enjoy a cappuccino. The full service cafe offers coffee throughout the day, and you can also grab a table to enjoy one of Chicago’s best brunches. Get comfy because their seating options are cozzyyyy. You’ve most likely seen the Instagrammable chandelier and massive dining room on social media, as well as the beautifully served Eggs Benedict. The food is less impressive than the ambiance and people watching, but for a coffee and a pastry, it’s worth the ‘gram. In the heart of West Loop, Allis is a great place to start your day in one of Chicago’s best neighborhoods.
Beloved Chicago Coffee Chains + Well Known Jaunts
When I moved from Wisconsin to Chicago, I knew I was going to miss Colectivo Coffee. It wasone of my favorite places to eat and drink in Madison. You can imagine my thrill when Colectivo opened up in Logan Square directly across the street from my Blue Line stop! Colectivo has a huge coffee menu, including nitro cold brew, a minty matcha latte, or even a coffee cookie smoothie. They also have a fantastic selection of food, including baked creations from their bakery brand called Troubadour Bakery. I can recommend their ginger molasses cookie – SO GOOD! Colectivo has a pretty loyal work-from-home community so you can expect their cafes to be full of remote workers taking meetings and calls.
With a modern Art Deco interior design straight from your favorite Pinterest board, La Colombe is a nice option if you’re in a hurry on your way to the office. The service is always efficient and it has a lot of locations around Chicago, including several in the Loop and along commuter routes. Their coffee is definitely better than Starbucks, but there are a number of coffee shops on this list that are much better than La Colombe.
Similar to Colectivo, Fairgrounds is a local Midwest chain with a stylish design and a cult following. The fun branding is reminiscent of a vintage carnival or state fair with nostalgic touches, cozy furniture and friendly staff. Fairgrounds has a wide variety of coffee, and I typically go for a flavored latte option. Better yet, order an iced tea! This is one the few places on this Chicago coffee shop guide whose tea offering matches (or maybe exceeds) its coffee selection. Fairgrounds has a surprisingly high number of drinks on tap, including some boozy varieties if you are making the transition from working hours to after-work hours.
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