Indie Coffee Shops to Perch & Work
There’s something singularly compelling about a great coffee shop—particularly when you’re trying to pound out a long overdue novel/screenplay/thesis/power point presentation/business plan and are desperate for inspiration, company, and distraction. Merely being in the presence of other procrastinators helps, as does a bottomless supply of really good coffee. Below, the best spots in 10 major cities for spending an afternoon (or stopping by to tap into their WiFi). We’ve noted when they don’t offer internet, a blessing for those who can’t get off email.
Floriole1220 W. Webster Ave., Lincoln Park | 773.883.1313
To be accurate, this Lincoln Park spot is more bakery than anything else. Owners Sandra and Mathieu Holl are both pastry chefs by trade, and it shows: fresh, never boring desserts and snacks (avocado toast, breakfast sandwiches, salads) are available all day. At two floors-strong, it's also more spacious than one might expect, with plentiful tables, exposed brick walls, and huge windows that are kept ajar in the summer months for a welcome, not too distracting indoor/outdoor situation.
Heritage Bicycles1325 W. Wilson Ave., Uptown | 872.806.0639
We teamed up with Heritage as part of our Chicago pop. After all, this is the kind of family-run operation that can make all your bike-related dreams come true. Not only will they custom build one pretty much from scratch (Tassels? Glitter? No problem!), but they make great coffee, too. The original Lincoln Avenue outpost (owners Mike and Melissa Salvatore actually live upstairs) does both in addition to a sweet general store, while the newer Heritage Outpost in Uptown is devoted entirely to coffee. You'll find free Wifi, and a group of people working on laptops, at both locations.
The Wormhole Coffee1462 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wicker Park | 773.661.2468
The first thing you'll notice here is the not-so-subtle '80s theme: A DeLorean, scattered Gremlin paraphernalia, and old-school Nintendo video games set the vibe. If that's not too distracting, it's actually a great place to hole up for a few hours of work (tons of outlets and good WiFi). They offer a revolving roster of guest roasters, most from the indy, small-batch end of the spectrum. Best part: It’s open until 11pm daily.
Dollop Coffee Co.749 Chicago Ave., Evanston | 847.868.8863
While Dollop has expanded across Chicago over the past 10 years, it’s still very much the neighborhood coffee house at heart—there’s nothing slick or overwhelmingly modern about any of the cafes. At the original Uptown spot, the seating options include lived-in couches and upholstered chairs, which if you’re in it for the long haul, makes a difference. The food offering, while modest, will do the trick in a pinch. The Streeterville location is spacious and well suited for study groups or casual meeting. Want fresh-baked pie to go with your coffee? Evanston serves Hoosier Mama pie all day. Perfectly brewed Metropolis coffee is consistent throughout so check out the Downtown and Gold Coast outposts, too.
The Coffee Studio5628 N. Clark St., Andersonville | 773.271.7881
Beautifully modern, this is one of those spots that has everything going for it. The only issue, really, is that you're only afforded an hour of free WiFi with purchase. It still makes our list, though, because they their lattes and iced coffee are the liquid equivalent to a punch in the face.
Filter1373-75 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wicker Park | 773.904.7819
Locals love Filter because in a lot of ways it feels like a friend's living room—lived-in, mismatched couches, dim lighting, and good music. And with disco fries, wraps, sandwiches, and veggie options on the menu, it's pretty easy to set up shop for the day with no real need to leave.
Gaslight2385 N. Milwaukee Ave., Logan Square
From the mason jar-topped wood tables (huge—so feel free to spread out), to the distressed floors, to the taxidermied deer head on the wall, there’s a distinct rustic flavor to this Logan Square café. Unlike many spots that can easily coast on the quality of their coffee alone, the food offering here—simple, delicious breakfast, toasts, and sandwiches—can also hold its own.
Intelligentsia1609 W. Division, Wicker Park | 773.516.5833
Chicago-based Intelligentsia ushered in a new wave of gourmet coffee shops, the kind where responsibly sourced and expertly roasted coffee is prepared using methods that, though time-consuming, result in a pretty perfect cup. As a rule, all outposts are aesthetically unique (five others are scattered in Old Town, Broadway, Millennium Park, Logan Square, and The Loop), offer free Wifi, and loads of seating options. Plus, you kind of have to love the theme-dressed baristas.