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6 of Chicago’s Most Unique Coffee Shops

If we were to make an exhaustive list of every cool coffee spot in the city, this would quickly turn into a novel. High quality independent coffee is as in demand as ever and new cafes continue to pop up, even during the pandemic. With that continues to come innovation and unique flavors, as new roasters and store owners find exciting ways to support our caffeine addictions. Chicago is a celebration of diverse culture and culinary innovation, and it appears our craft coffee scene is starting to highlight that not unlike the restaurant scene itself. Let’s take a look at six such places that offer a little something different in terms of flavor, cause, or even bike repair.

First Sip Cafe – Uptown

Image: Deyana/Medium

Up on the Asia on Argyle stretch is First Sip, a cozy place on a typically buzzing block. They are once again open for limited indoor dining. While they have all of your basic coffee offerings here, there are some specialties you’ll want to try, such as the coconut jasmine Vietnamese iced coffee, ubae (sweet purple yam) latte, spicy mango latte, or orange blossom latte. They also have a number of excellent teas to choose from and matcha cheesecake for dessert. First Sip is definitely worth a visit right off the Red Line.

The Stockyard Coffeehouse – Bridgeport

Image: Komal A./Yelp

The legacy of the South Side lives on at Stockyard. The petite coffee cafe proudly displays “South Side” neon letters on the front wall. They certainly have their aesthetic figured out, but that’s not the only reason you’ll want to support this Latino-owned business. You’ll notice a number of Mexican influences amongst a lengthy list of premium coffee creations, namely a mexican mocha, horchata latte, and an iced mazapan (a sweet Mexican nut treat) latte. Everything else on the menu is pulled off with impressive sophistication, from avocado bagels to simple pieces of nostalgia like nutella-banana and PB&J sandwiches. 

Oromo Cafe – Lincoln Square & Bucktown

Image: Nausheen/The City Lane

The first thing you’ll notice about Oromo, in both their locations, is the sheer attention to detail and aesthetics behind everything they do. The decor, drinks, food, and even kitchen appliances behind the counter are always tasteful. Then you’ll notice the menu, which has just a stunning depth of concoctions and snacks available. Were you in the mood for the pistachio and matcha bar, the gluten-free oatmeal-cranberry-walnut cookie, or the apricot-walnut-citrus truffle? Many of these items are vegan and gluten free friendly. They also make full sandwiches and salads, and both cafes are open for dine-in once again. A must-try next time you’re in either of these areas, as you’re nearly guaranteed to find something you love.

Kusanya Cafe – Englewood

Image: Latent Design

Coffee is coffee, something that helps us get through the day. Except when it’s simply the means for something much greater. Kusanya Cafe would agree. Founded in 2013 amidst a food and retail desert, Kusanya is a shining example of a growing number of cafes that are using coffee and shared space as a way to build community. In normal times, Kusanya hosts yoga every Saturday and a monthly storytelling open mic session, as part of over 100 community and private events per year. Events may be slowly returning post-pandemic, but you know they’ll have a key role in moving the Englewood community past COVID-19. Oh, and the small batch coffee is roasted on-site and they have a full, delicious cafe menu.

Heritage Bikes & Coffee – Lakeview & Fulton Market

Image: John Noltner/Enjoy Illinois

At the intersection of bikes and coffee, as Heritage says on their website, we find a place where you can do both. Biking has skyrocketed as a mobility option and excuse for exercise since the pandemic. If you’re on the many that have hopped on two wheels lately and need a tune-up, or you’re looking to get a new bike, Heritage is an excellent place for that. You can even book appointments on their website to avoid the long waits that many bike shops have had recently. But while they get to work on your bike, grab a cup of the coffee they roast and perfect themselves. The main bikes and coffee locations are in Lakeview and Fulton Market, but they also have “outpost” locations in the Loop and two in Uptown. 

Sip of Hope Community Coffee Roasters – Logan Square 

Image: Carrie Pallardy/Fresh Cup Magazine

Speaking of accomplishing two things at once, have you ever noticed how much you spend on your coffee addiction and wish you were doing something more wholesome with at least some of that money? Sounds like your next coffee trip should be to Sip of Hope, “the world’s first coffee where 100 percent of proceeds support proactive suicide prevention and mental health education.” The coffee operation is a social enterprise of Hope For The Day, a mental health non-profit. And a successful operation it is — their coffee is consistently ranked amongst the best in the city. Reviewers speak very highly of their donuts and other pastries as well. If you’re looking to support but won’t find yourself in Logan Square anytime soon, their website has coffee available for purchase along with mugs and apparel.