By Lisa Arnett, @redeyeeatdrink and Samantha Nelson
July 25, 2013
Coffee is mandatory for many to start their day feeling human, but two new coffee shops—plus one more opening soon—are offering much more than just the basic cup. From a West Town cafe with a dog-friendly patio in the works to a Roscoe Village shop serving treats worthy of cronut-caliber obsession, these coffehouses have your caffeine fix covered and then some.
Bad Wolf Coffee
3422 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-969-2346
Story: With gigs at Schwa and New York's Momofuku Ko on his resume, Jonathan Ory's roots may be in fine dining, but he recently switched gears to open this Roscoe Village coffee shop near the Paulina Brown line station on July 11. "I woke up … one morning and I realized didn't want to put gelees on a plate anymore," he said. What he was excited about was a newfound love for pastry and an appreciation for high-quality coffee. "[In New York,] I would pass by all these amazing coffee shops," he said. "It really opened my eyes to how full spectrum coffee can be. How different processes can bring complete different flavors out of coffee." And as for the name? "It's an inside joke for all the 'Doctor Who' kids."
Sustenance: Don't expect any wacky candy-flavored lattes here. Ory's menu of Counter Culture coffee drinks ($3-$4) is simple: espresso, americano, macchiato, cortado, cappuccino, latte. If French press, pour-over or cold-brewed coffee is your thing, he does that too—but don't make the mistake of leaving without a pastry. Choices vary daily but might include blueberry-lime muffins, cheddar biscuits or goat cheese custard tarts with mango, cinnamon and citrus zest ($3.50-$4.50). Regardless of how many kouign-amann, a sweeter cousin to the croissant, Ory makes, they have consistently sold out. "I haven't had one of those cronuts, but I'd rather have one of these," he said.
Seating: Nada. Ory wants Bad Wolf to be a neighborhood hub for chatting over your cup of coffee, not a quiet laptop parking lot, so he opted for just a counter and a standing table rather than chairs or couches.
1562 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-360-7041
Story: No one can accuse owner John Grbac of jumping on the Wicker Park bandwagon. The long-time restaurateur owned Jimo's Cafe just a few doors away in the '90s. He teamed up with recent MBA grad Adam Banks, who created the concept for Ready as his senior business plan at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. Since opening in late June, Ready has been luring budget-conscious commuters with $1 8-ounce cups of coffee and a $4 coffee-and-doughnut deal (P.S. They're from Lakeview favorite Dinkel's Bakery). As for the smirk-worthy phrases written on the chalkboard out front, you can thank whichever clever staffer happens to be scheduled for the morning shift.
Sustenance: Local roaster Greg Stivers of Stivers Coffee Roasting Co. is behind Ready's house blend as well as single-origin coffees for pour-overs ($2-$3). To cool off on a steamy day, consider the iced Nutella latte ($3), lemon-ginger iced tea ($2) or freshly blended juices such as The Detox ($6) made with apples, carrots, celery and ginger. Delightful Pastries provides sandwiches for lunch—try the curry chicken or caprese—while cookies, cupcakes and affogato (espresso poured over vanilla ice cream) tempt at night.
Seating: There are plenty of tables for those looking settling in to take advantage of free wifi for work or pleasure. If it's people-watching you're after, you can't do much better than the counter seats along the front windows looking out to Milwaukee Avenue.
Ugly Mug Cafe COMING SOON!
1458 W. Chicago Ave.
Story: Mik Wright moved from Seattle to Chicago in 1997 and has spent the last 15 years in Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village pining for the coffee culture he left behind. "The one thing I've always cried out for is that we need more cafes and coffee shops in the neighborhood," said Wright, who formerly owned Alliance Bakery & Cafe. "I felt like we were in the dark ages."
Sustenance: When it opens in early August, Ugly Mug will serve coffee from local roastery Passion House Coffee Roasters along with sweet and savory croissants and breakfast sandwiches. Lunch options will include a shaved roast beef sandwich with white cheddar and a Almost Cuban sandwich with ham, cheddar and pickled jalapenos. Wright also plans to serve cake by the slice until 10 p.m. for the coffee-and-dessert crowd.
Seating: Located in a rehabbed building dating to the 1890s, the long skinny space features a bar made from reclaimed wood where you can sit and chat with your barista. There are also two- and three-seat tables and armchairs for laptoppers soaking up free wifi or dates listening to live music; Wright hopes to start bringing in small acoustic acts this fall. A dog-friendly backyard patio with street access is also in the works.
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