20 Popular Coffee Shops In Chicago, Ranked

Chicago is known as the City That Works, and there's little doubt that plenty of coffee is fueling all that productivity. Wherever you are in the city, you're never more than a few blocks away from a great cup of joe.

The city is home to many independent coffee shops, as well outposts of popular chains, including Peet's Coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee, and, of course, Starbucks. In fact, Starbucks chose Chicago as the site for its largest location in the world: A gorgeous, five-story, 35,000-square-foot Starbucks Reserve that includes a roasting facility, an authentic Italian bakery, an experiential coffee bar that explores the science behind tasting methods, and a top-floor coffee cocktail lounge. 

But if that sounds overwhelming, there are plenty of smaller, independent options sprinkled throughout the city as well. Use our list of the best Chicago coffee shops to find a new favorite place to get your fix.

20. Passion House

The founder of Passion House Coffee is as passionate about music as he is coffee, and it shows in the names of various roasts, such as "Darkest Side of the Moon" and "Milly Grace," or specialty drinks (a Valentine's Day special, the "Pink Rabbit Latte," is named for a song by The National). The company borrows the music genre system to classify its packaged coffees, too. You can choose from Ambient, Mainstream, or Experimental roasts.

Coffee is roasted on-site at its Garfield Park location, while two other Goose Island and Logan Square locations offer cold brews, hot drinks, and pastries. You'll want to return to try out its seasonal offerings. Recent specials included a sweet potato latte — the baristas insist it's better than pumpkin spice — and an orange blossom latte.

19. Bad Owl

The Chicago outpost of this Las Vegas coffee shop opened two years ago and has developed a neighborhood following as much for its cheerful location in Southport as for its fun, creative menu. Among the unusual offerings: A banana cold brew latte with real bananas, the "Second Breakfast Latte" with maple and sea salt cream, and "Oatchata," a horchata-inspired oat milk latte.  

Kids will love Bad Owl's take on Harry Potter's butterbeer, a creamy butterscotch non-coffee concoction with sweet cream and chocolate shavings. It's a lasting nod to the coffee shop's origins as a Harry Potter-themed coffee shop in Vegas. Food-wise, the menu includes overnight oats, egg sandwiches on brioche, avocado toast, and pastries including hazelnut chocolate beignets and apple fritters.

18. Caffe Umbria

The two Chicago locations of this Seattle coffee shop carry on the tradition of its Italian founders, focusing on balanced coffee blends and Italian-style espresso. The Logan Square location, opened five years ago, is a beautiful industrial space crafted of glass and repurposed shipping containers, with a roasting facility and cafe that serves espresso pulled on a La Marzocca machine. The River North location is in the lobby of the John R. Thompson building, a great location to grab a cappuccino on the way to the office.

Watch for drink specials like the bicerin, an espresso/hot chocolate concoction that hails from Torino, Italy. It's served layered in a wine glass, with a chilled cream top and a dusting of cinnamon.

17. Happy Monday Coffee Roasters

Perhaps the cutest coffee drink in Chicago can be found where the "Thyme Is Honey" latte is served up in a honey bear bottle. Happy Monday's iced latte is made with honey, almond milk, and cinnamon ... and yes, you can keep the bear. 

Other drink options are just as fun. Try the "Birds and the Bees" latte (made with lavender and honey) or the gorgeous "Purple Haze" (made with ube, hazelnut, oat milk and an optional shot of espresso). This cafe is a great destination for health-conscious folks; you can order vitamin-packed superfood meal replacement beverages or smoothies and growlers of kombucha. If you're feeling indulgent, opt for sweet and savory croissants and veggie or ham and cheese breakfast sandwiches.

Happy Monday has locations in Edgewater, River North, and the Loop.

16. Big Shoulders Coffee

Founded by a chef who fell in love with the coffee world when he traveled to coffee plantations and started studying roasting techniques, Big Shoulders is known for its carefully sourced beans, in-house roasting, and precise brewing methods that include Aeropress and pour-overs as well as drip and, of course, a top-of-the-line espresso machine. 

The brand has six locations around the city, including outposts at Midway Airport and in the Chicago Board of Trade building, each with a slightly different look and feel. But what they all share is a menu filled with fun drinks like cardamom lattes and marshmallow lattes, and house-made goodies like breakfast sandwiches, scones, and coffee cake. 

You can also find packaged Big Shoulders coffee at local grocers like Mariano's Market, or sign up for a coffee subscription. 

15. Hero Coffee Bar

Secreted away in a narrow alley off Jackson St., Hero Coffee Bar is one of the best-kept coffee secrets in the Loop. But when you do happen upon it, you'll want to escape the busy streets at one of the cafe tables tucked into the alley and sip a hot or iced espresso drink while noshing on a bagel sandwich or one of the rotating pastries (recent options included a cherry root beer pop tart and a toasted coconut scone drizzled with dulce de leche). 

Hero has two other locations (two are also in the Loop and one is in Lakeview), and you can feel good patronizing this Latina- and woman-owned business at any of its outposts: The owners have a mission "to positively impact our communities one meaningful cup at a time," which they do in part by donating a portion of each purchase to local charities.

14. The Stockyard Coffeehouse

Located on the South Side in the historic Bridgeport neighborhood, The Stockyard Coffeehouse is cheerful and bright, with a chic black-and-white color scheme accented with light-wood furnishings and lots of greenery. The pillow-strewn banquette in one of the big windows is the perfect place to sit with a good book and the coffee shop's signature Mexican mocha. 

A small menu includes all the essentials: BLTs, avocado toast, bagel sandwiches, and even a PB&J. Then, for dessert: Macarons from Dulcinea — recent specialties have included an adorable Hello Kitty offering and Cinco de Mayo flavors like mango tajin and lime margarita. Dine-in orders are served on a seemingly infinite assortment of mismatched china, ranging from pretty gold-rimmed teacups to flowered plates to black-and-white mugs that match the decor.

Before you leave, don't forget to snap a selfie in front of the Instagram-worthy South Side mural on the side of the building. 

13. The Understudy Coffee and Books

When a pair of local theater artists decided to open a business, The Understudy Coffee and Books was the happy result. Located in Andersonville and opened just this year, it's a cozy bookshop stocking over 3,500 plays and technique titles, with a coffee shop component that offers a variety of traditional and specialty coffee drinks and pastries. Come for the book recommendations hand-selected by a rotating cast of guest curators, stay for coffee drinks made with Metric Coffee and a full menu of teas and tea-based drinks from Spirit Tea and Coffee & Tea Exchange.

This bookshop cafe always has something going on, whether it's theatre-themed trivia, cabaret nights, readings, or performances. You might even run into one of Chicago's local theatre celebrities.

12. Sputnik Coffee

With its cute retro-space-themed package logo, Sputnik Coffee can be found at grocery stores all over Chicagoland. But if you want to sip it at the source, head over to its location on an unassuming residential block in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. The cafe is also the roastery, giving the brick-walled interior an industrial vibe, but it's a great place to sit with a pastry and a coffee while inhaling the delicious aroma of coffee roasting in its cherry-red equipment.

The company is five years old, founded with the mission of providing accessible, unfussy coffee at a great price to both consumers and restaurants. There's only one blend for sale, a medium roast of beans from Colombia and Brazil, but it's so good you won't miss having a bunch of options. If you love the company's logo, grab a T-shirt or travel mug while you're there.

11. Plein Air Cafe

This elegant little Hyde Park space, located on the campus of the University of Chicago, is inspired by French ateliers, and it shows. The white-walled space is all windows, with dark-painted wooden chairs, crisp white china, and plenty of outdoor seating. For local students, it's a great place to study between classes, even if the menu might be a little pricey on a starving student's budget.

Drip coffees, pour-overs, and espresso drinks are on the menu, made with a seasonally rotating selection of beans from artisanal roasters. The food menu was developed by Art Jackson of Pleasant Farms and features salads, filled baguettes, tartines, grain bowls, and other elevated fare, plus, of course, amazing French pastries. If you're feeling like something stronger than coffee, wine is also served, and you can take a bottle home as well from Plein Air's new wine shop, Plein Air La Cafe.

10. Sawada Coffee

With locations in Chicago and New York, Sawada Coffee is the brainchild of award-winning barista/latte artist Hiroshi Sawada. It's part of the Hogsalt restaurant empire, which includes Au Cheval and Doughnut Vault (which provides a rotating selection to Sawada). The painfully hip interior seems tailor-made for Instagram photo shoots, with its custom-painted espresso machine, overhead string lights, and moody palette of dark wood and exposed brick.

Aside from coffee drinks and matcha-based beverages, there's a menu of "boozy steamers" like cold brew with shochu and steamed almond milk with honey and scotch. The coffee shop has partnered with Chicago roaster Metropolis Coffee Company to make a locally roasted version of the coffee Sawada serves up in his Tokyo cafe. The blend, dubbed Project X, are available in bags to take home. Japanese-sourced matcha, created exclusively for Sawada and its sister Hogsalt restaurants, is also available.

9. Metric Coffee

If you like knowing where your coffee comes from, head over to the Metric Coffee flagship cafe, roastery, and training center in West Fulton Market. This coffee company prides itself on seeking out small coffee producers with which to partner, hand-selecting the best batches of beans they can find, and paying farmers a fair price. The baristas are happy to share details of where the coffee farms are located, what the terrain is like, and what flavor notes you can expect to experience with each sip. 

Inside the Scandinavian-aesthetic cafe, a glass wall shows off the roasting facility in action, and coffee and drinks are accompanied by goodies from Brite Donuts and Baked Goods. On any given day, choices might include a savory tomato and mozzarella danish, coconut tarot donuts, and more.

Also on the menu: Fancy cocktail-style coffee drinks, like smoked cold brew with barrel-aged bitters and orange syrup.

8. Oromo Cafe

The craft lattes served up at Oromo Cafe, which has locations in Lincoln Square and Bucktown, feature house-made nut milks and alternative sweeteners like coconut sugar and maple syrup. The food and beverage menu has many vegan and gluten-free options, so it's ideal for health-conscious coffee lovers or folks with dietary restrictions. Sandwiches can be made with gluten-free bread at no extra charge, and there are plenty of tempting, veggie-packed salads as well. 

Regulars like to beat the heat with one of the many frozen blended drinks on offer, like a smoothie of almond milk, frozen mango and banana, camu camu, chia seeds, and peppermint syrup. Another favorite is a Turkish delight-inspired latte made with pistachio milk and rose syrup. In the cafe's rustic interior that features beautiful hand-painted tile and glowing pendant lights, you might be fooled into believing you're actually in Istanbul. 

7. Metropolis Coffee Company

You've probably tasted Metropolis Coffee in one of the many restaurants around the city that buy it wholesale, but the father-and-son-owned company's flagship cafe in Edgewater is worth a visit. The bright, modern interior has plenty of seating, a glass case chock-full of breakfast, lunch, and snack options both sweet and savory, and coffee drinks brewed with fresh beans delivered daily from the roasting facility just down the street. 

The cafe has a fun rewards program for regulars and those who subscribe to their delivery program; points can be redeemed for drink upgrades or free drinks and baked goods.  

A second location, the Metropolis Coffee Factory Store, is a good destination to stock up on beans for home brewing. Frequent flyers take note: there's a Metropolis Coffee kiosk at O'Hare International Airport. 

6. Intelligentsia Coffee

Sure it's a chain, but Intelligentsia Coffee is a true hometown hero in the coffee world, opening a cafe and roastery in Lakeview in 1995, and growing its presence not just here but in Austin, Los Angeles, New York City, and Boston. The three Chicago locations (in the historic Monandack building in the Loop, near Millennium Park, and in Lakeview) each feature a sleek, modern space and a menu of classic and not-so-classic coffee drinks made with a blend so flavorful it doesn't even need sugar.

Try the "Avena Latte" made with oat milk, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, orange peel, and an optional dash of cayenne. Another unusual offering is the espresso tonic, made with the brand's signature Black Cat espresso and orange bitters. Baked goods sourced from Aya Pastry include options like cakes inspired by Girl Scout's Samoas cookies, savory cornbread, and flaky kouign-amann pastries.

5. Heritage Bikes & Coffee

Get your bike tune up and your caffeine fix at the same time at Heritage Bikes & Coffee in Lakeview, which brews Intelligentsia coffee drinks as well as more adventurous options, like an iced matcha made with hibiscus simple syrup, macadamia milk, and a dusting of powdered strawberry. The food menu includes fruit scones, Do-Rite Donuts, and hearty sandwiches that will fuel you up for that long ride. 

Speaking of cycling, bikes and accessories are sold here too, including models from the first completely Chicago-based bike company since Schwinn made bikes here nearly 50 years ago. We can think of few other places where you can walk in for a cappuccino and walk out (er, ride out?) with a Fixie.

The cafe component of Heritage Bikes & Coffee has proven to be so popular that the company has opened coffee-only outposts in Uptown and the Financial District.

4. Dark Matter Coffee

Dark Matter Coffee has eight locations throughout the city, each with its own name and personality, but they all share a trippy vibe that extends to the psychedelic signage and packaging. We're partial to the Mothership in Ukranian Village, which has a riotously colorful interior accented with glowing neon. 

Dark Matter's barrel-aged coffee options further sets the brand apart from the crowd. The roasters use barrels from bourbon, cognac, and other spirits to age the coffees and alter their flavor profile — a throwback, they claim, to the barrels that once transported coffees overseas in the early trading days. While you're there, pick up a can or three of Dark Matter's Coffee Cold, a collection of canned iced coffee versions of some of its most popular roasts. There's even a version cask-conditioned with Malort, Chicago's most notorious liquor.

3. The Wormhole

There's always something to discover on the menu at this Wicker Park institution, which brews coffee from Halfwit Coffee, a roaster started by its founders. The mocha can't be missed; it's made with chocolate syrup made locally by Grown Up Kid Stuff, a local producer of upscale, sophisticated dessert sauces. That sauce also makes its appearance in the Koopa Troopa, a decadent espresso drink with peanut butter mousse. There are even fancy drinks for tea lovers: the Chocolate Smaug is made with earl grey tea, steamed milk, and star anise, orange, and marshmallow syrup. 

Children of the '80s will love the retro decor featuring vintage toys, old movie posters, an original Macintosh computer, and even a DeLorean perched above the counter. Its kitschy decor, coupled with a fantastic menu, is what earned Wormhole Coffee our nod in Illinois for the best coffee shop in every state.

2. Dayglow Coffee

Dayglow Coffee, an outpost of a Los Angeles-based brand, just might be the most beautiful coffee shop you've ever been to. Tucked into the Kimball Arts Center, It's a sleek, spartan place with peach-colored walls and a long, uncluttered counter. Even the menu on the wall is pared down to its essence. 

But don't worry, there are more choices beyond just the options of espresso, filter, or hand-brewed coffee listed there in sans serif font. Signature drinks include "Defund the Military" (a concoction of matcha, chocolate, bourbon vanilla and milk) and "Howl's Moving Castle" (butterfly pea flower, distilled coffee, coconut, nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon). But you might want to focus on a straight-up espresso, the better with which to appreciate the nuanced flavor notes of the rotating coffee selections, which often are Nordic-style roasts that aren't as common.

1. Ipsento 606

There are plenty of reasons why so many Chicagoans call Ipsento their favorite coffee shop. It could be the perfectly-pulled espresso drinks or the flawless batch-brewed coffee. It could be the nitro coffee and oat milk lattes on tap, or the more unusual beverage offerings like cardamom rose lattes and mushroom-based cappuccinos. Maybe it's the mini donuts house-made daily with rotating flavors like maple bourbon or brown butter cranberry, or the hearty sandwiches that can fuel a long work session. 

The space itself is comfortable and inviting, with a high, stamped-ceiling, and plenty of tables, high-tops, and counter space to linger over your meal or your drink ... or take it to sip in the tiny park next door. Perhaps best of all, the cafe serves beer, wine, and cocktails, so you can make a smooth transition directly from a day of working, right into happy hour.