CHICAGO, ILLINOIS — You may know that I’m a freelance writer. And that I recently moved to Chicago from Madison. Naturally that means I’ve been doing one thing: coffee shop exploration! I have a home office but sometimes I feel like a vampire so on occasion I step outside into the daylight to mingle with humans. When I visit a coffee shop, I’m mainly looking for plentiful seating, a strong (free!) wi-fi signal, and plugs abound. After that I focus on coffee and food options. (Do you know how hard it so to find a coffee shop that serves lunch?!) These are the my reviews of a handful of coffee shops I’ve visited so far.
Bucktown: 2035 N. Western Ave
Let’s forget about the working situation for a sec and talk coffee: Ipsento’s signature latte (pictured above) is the best coffee drink I’ve ever had. It has coconut milk. And honey. And cayenne pepper. Phenomenal. Unfortunately, I did not like the working conditions here. Most of the seating is at the back of the shop up a few stairs. It was way too cramped for me back there, but I did find a comfortable large table in the front of the shop with plugs nearby. If that wasn’t open, I probably would have left.
Wicker Park: 1462 N. Milwaukee Ave
Truly rad. If you’re a child of the 80s like me, you might die of happiness when you step in here. Star Wars merch everywhere. Back to the Future poster. Original Nintendo (with couch and coffee table) in back. A fricken’ oversized model DeLorean up top. They have an assortment of interesting caffeinated drinks here, but no food really. Only a sparse assortment of baked goods and maybe one or two questionable pre-wrapped sandwiches. But the seating is decent and the signal was strong. No complaints here.
Wicker Park: 1373 N. Milwaukee Ave
Filter is the all-around winner so far. It has plenty of mismatched vintage couches and tables for seating as well as plugs everywhere. The best part is the full breakfast and lunch menu! Hallelujah! It’s not cheap but it sure is awesome when you’re losing steam and need to recharge (yourself — not your laptop). My one gripe with this place is they only give you two hours of free wifi. When you purchase something, you’ll get a code for an additional two hours. I’ve also found the signal to run slow on occasion. P.S. They don’t take cards, but they do accept the LevelUp app so you can pay with your phone. #thefuture
The Loop: 53 E. Randolph
The seating here is all high-top-style tables and there aren’t a ton of plugs, but the place is bustling and bright. And the coffee is dangerously delicious. The teeny-tiny $3.50 cappuccinos are something I could sip on at least twice a day. Its proximity to Millennium Park and the Loop means this place is always bumping — literally. Customers were constantly bumping into my chair. Too much caffeine, I guess.