Melting Pot

Head to Buzz for a taste of America's best micro-roasters

Java-loving Chicagoans have plenty of options for local coffee, often brewed by the same fanatical hands that roasted the beans.

But the newest member of the caffeine cognoscenti–Wicker Park's Buzz: Killer Espresso–takes a different approach.

The shop brings in beans from across the country, filling its carefully crafted cuppas with coffee from micro-roasters like Kansas City's Broadway and Portland's Badbeard's.

Offerings change multiple times each week. Currently you'll find Ardi Natural Ethiopia from PT's and 3rd Coast espresso from MadCap, a new Grand Rapids-based roaster (and the only constant on Buzz's ever-changing list). Barista James Liu (pictured) handles the beans with obsessive care, measuring them to the gram, precisely timing each pour-over and meticulously cleaning the souped-up vintage La Marzocco espresso machine.

Liu and owner Stefan Hersh offer monthly classes: A talk about bean origins with the roaster from PT's is scheduled for April 25, and soon after that comes a workshop for home baristas. Last week, a tea expert from Rishi–Buzz's tea provider–came by to talk tea history, culture and technique.

Also in the works: a coffee club that will allow members to buy the same craft coffee Buzz is serving. Bags of beans will come with Liu's well-researched instructions for optimum brewing (timer and scale not included).

Buzz: Killer Espresso, 1644 N. Damen Ave.; 773-366-8377 or buzzkillerespresso.com