If you're like millions of folks around the globe, getting the day started without a nice cup o' joe is virtually impossible.
This is particularly true in America's northern cities, where having a good barista within stumbling distance of your apartment in Chicago isn't just nice — it's vital. In my search for the perfect coffee shop, I was able to find some of the best cups o' joe in the Windy City:
Asado boasts having the "perfect cup of coffee," and while that may or may not be true depending on the person, it's probably going to be a contender. Its regular coffee is made through a Japanese drip process, so it's bold and flavorful, and it's got a serious kick. Don't be disappointed by the size of your cup – you're getting more caffeine in that mug than you think.
Drip coffee is definitely its forte, and while the shop does have an espresso machine, this probably isn't the place to go if you're in love with the latte. Although Asado is happy to make you a mocha or a cafe con leche, you're not going to find the boutique coffee shop answer to the pumpkin spice latte here.
If you're one of those people who asks for a double shot of espresso on principle, you have to check out Buzz: Killer Espresso. As you'd imagine, it has incredibly good (and strong) espresso, as well as all the drinks espresso implies – if you're more of a straight coffee or a tea fan, you can also get a cup of pour-over, cold brew, or your favorite kind of hot or iced tea.
Moreover, this coffee shop is located smack-dab in one of Chicago's trendiest areas: Wicker Park. If you're in the mood for a shopping spree (or even a window-shopping spree), this is a great place to do it – the neighborhood is full of cool indie book shops, record stores, and secondhand shops. There are a ton of local businesses here, too, so you'll be supporting the neighborhood itself.
Intelligentsia coffee has a wide-reaching reputation, so even out-of-towners tend to know it has impressive coffee. What they might not know, however, is that the coffee-shop experience at Intelligentsia is on the next level. "Coffee shop" isn't even the appropriate term: Intelligentsia is a coffee bar, complete with coffee flights and, in some locations, bar-style seating.
The baristas at Intelligentsia are serious business, as well. They go through a long training process to learn how to perfectly make the various drinks the shop offers. This training course is open to the public, by the way, so if you have $200 to drop and a strong interest in learning how to make the perfect cappuccino, you're all set.
Metropolis Coffee Company is both a coffee shop and a roasterie, which means you can go there to get your coffee and drink it, too. It serves Kyoto-style pour-over coffee, as well as the standard espresso fair. Like many of the coffee shops on this list, this shop is more about lovingly crafting the coffee than it is about making signature drinks.
Now, if you're too far south to justify the trip up to Edgewater, you can actually get Metropolis Coffee itself all over Chicago – plenty of little coffee shops around town use it. For example, the Chicago chain Dollop uses and sells Metropolis blends. However, there's something to be said for getting the experience of the cafe itself.
You know how some places make you feel cool just by nature of being there? That's, in essence, what you'll find at Dark Matter Coffee's Star Lounge. It's all neon and graffiti-style lettering, with bar seating inside and a roomy patio for Chicago's good-weather time of year.
In addition, signature-drink lovers should rejoice – this coffee shop is perfectly happy to offer you some eclectic lattes designed in-house. For example, the "Wake and Bake" special features espresso, steamed milk, sage, and maple syrup.
Most of the shops on this list offer the classics perfected, which is all good if you're looking to compare the finer details of various macchiatos. If you're looking to up your coffee game, but you're still a fan of the complicated sugary lattes you might find at certain all-green coffee chains, however, most of these shops just won't do.
Enter: Kafein. Yes, it serves Americanos and all that jazz, so you can tiptoe toward that if you'd like. However, the shop also has an extensive list of signature lattes, so you can get your caffeine fix and sugar fix all at once.