Popular Illinois Coffee Shops: A Guide to the Best Local Brews

Four coworkers, all male, drinking coffee and talking, illustration

When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Illinois is known for its bustling coffee scene, with a variety of local coffee shops and roasters that have gained popularity over the years. From Chicago to Champaign, there are plenty of options for coffee lovers to choose from. In this article, we will explore some of the most popular Illinois coffee shops and roasters, highlighting what makes them stand out in a crowded market.

One of the most well-known coffee shops in Illinois is Intelligentsia Coffee. Founded in Chicago in 1995, Intelligentsia has gained a reputation for its high-quality coffee and commitment to sustainability. In addition to its Chicago locations, Intelligentsia has expanded to other cities, including Los Angeles and New York City. Another popular coffee shop in Illinois is Gaslight Coffee Roasters, located in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. Gaslight offers a variety of single-origin coffees and espresso drinks, as well as a cozy atmosphere for customers to enjoy.

Illinois is also home to several notable coffee roasters. Metropolis Coffee Company, founded in Chicago in 2003, has become a staple in the city’s coffee scene. Known for its artisanal approach to roasting, Metropolis offers a variety of blends and single-origin coffees. Dark Matter Coffee, another Chicago-based roaster, has gained a following for its bold and unique blends, as well as its distinctive branding and packaging. With so many great options to choose from, it’s no wonder that Illinois has become a destination for coffee lovers from around the world.

Illinois’s Coffee Culture

Illinois has a thriving coffee culture that is centered around Chicago, the state’s largest city. From specialty coffee shops to local roasters, Illinois offers a diverse range of coffee options for its residents and visitors.

Chicago’s Coffee Scene

Chicago’s coffee scene is known for its high-quality coffee and unique coffee shops. Some of the best coffee shops in the city include Intelligentsia Coffee, Metric Coffee Co., and Ipsento Coffee. These coffee shops offer a variety of brewing methods, including pour-over, drip, and espresso, and source their coffee beans from around the world.

Local Coffee Roasters

Illinois is home to several local coffee roasters that are committed to producing high-quality coffee. Some of the best local coffee roasters include Dark Matter Coffee, Halfwit Coffee Roasters, and Passion House Coffee Roasters. These roasters source their coffee beans from around the world and roast them in small batches to bring out the unique flavors and aromas of each coffee.

University of Chicago’s Impact

The University of Chicago has had a significant impact on the coffee culture in Illinois. The university is home to the Coffee Lab, a research center that studies the science of coffee. The Coffee Lab conducts research on coffee brewing methods, coffee roasting, and coffee sensory analysis. The research conducted at the Coffee Lab has helped to improve the quality of coffee in Illinois and beyond.

Overall, Illinois’s coffee culture is diverse and thriving, with a range of coffee shops and local roasters that offer high-quality coffee. Whether you’re a coffee enthusiast or just looking for a good cup of coffee, Illinois has something to offer.

Famous Coffee Shops and Roasters

Metropolis Coffee Company

Metropolis Coffee Company is a well-known coffee roaster based in Chicago, Illinois. They are committed to sourcing the highest quality beans from around the world and roasting them to perfection. Their coffee can be found in many cafes and restaurants throughout the city, and they also have their own coffee shops where customers can enjoy their delicious brews. Metropolis Coffee Company offers a variety of blends and single-origin coffees, and they are known for their smooth, well-balanced flavors.

Intelligentsia Coffee

Intelligentsia Coffee is a specialty coffee roaster that was founded in Chicago in 1995. They are dedicated to sourcing the highest quality beans and working directly with farmers to ensure fair prices and sustainable practices. They roast their coffee in small batches to bring out the unique flavors and characteristics of each bean. Intelligentsia Coffee has several cafes in Chicago, as well as locations in Los Angeles, New York, and Boston. They offer a variety of blends and single-origin coffees, and they are known for their bold, complex flavors.

Dark Matter Coffee

Dark Matter Coffee is a unique and innovative coffee roaster based in Chicago. They specialize in creating bold, unconventional blends that push the boundaries of traditional coffee roasting. Their coffee can be found in many cafes and restaurants throughout the city, and they also have their own coffee shops where customers can try their creative brews. Dark Matter Coffee offers a variety of blends and single-origin coffees, and they are known for their rich, full-bodied flavors.

Overall, Illinois is home to many excellent coffee shops and roasters, each with their own unique style and approach to coffee. Whether you prefer a smooth, well-balanced brew or a bold, complex blend, there is something for everyone in the Illinois coffee scene.

Coffee Varieties and Brew Methods

Beans and Blends

Illinois is home to some of the best coffee roasters in the country, offering a wide range of coffee beans and blends. From single-origin beans to unique blends, there is something for every coffee lover. Many roasters in Illinois pride themselves on using high-quality, organic coffee beans, ensuring a flavorful and sustainable cup of coffee.

Espresso and Lattes

Espresso and lattes are popular coffee drinks in Illinois. Espresso is made by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee beans, resulting in a concentrated shot of coffee. Lattes, on the other hand, are made by adding steamed milk to espresso. Many coffee shops in Illinois offer a variety of latte flavors, such as vanilla, caramel, and hazelnut, to name a few.

Cold Brew and Iced Coffee

Cold brew and iced coffee are perfect for those hot summer days in Illinois. Cold brew is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period, resulting in a smooth and less acidic cup of coffee. Iced coffee, on the other hand, is made by brewing hot coffee and then pouring it over ice. Many coffee shops in Illinois offer a variety of cold brew and iced coffee flavors, such as mocha, cinnamon, and pumpkin spice.

Overall, Illinois offers a wide variety of specialty coffee drinks, brewed with high-quality beans and unique blends. Whether you prefer a hot latte or a refreshing iced coffee, there is something for everyone in Illinois.

The Coffee Experience

When it comes to coffee in Illinois, there is no shortage of options. From cozy cafes to bustling shops, there is something for everyone. But what truly makes a great coffee experience? Let’s dive in and explore the key factors that make a coffee shop stand out.

Coffee Shop Ambiance

The atmosphere of a coffee shop can make or break a visit. The best coffee shops have a warm and inviting ambiance that makes customers feel at home. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to work or a lively spot to catch up with friends, there’s a coffee shop out there for you.

Some of the most popular coffee shops in Illinois include Kusanya Cafe in Chicago and Tala Coffee Roasters in Highwood. Both of these spots offer a cozy and welcoming atmosphere that keeps customers coming back for more.

Baristas and Service

A knowledgeable and friendly staff can make all the difference when it comes to a great coffee experience. From latte art to pastry pairings, a skilled barista can elevate your coffee experience to the next level.

Many of the top coffee shops in Illinois pride themselves on their knowledgeable and attentive staff. Build Coffee in Chicago is known for its friendly and helpful baristas, while Aya Pastry in Evanston offers exceptional service and a wide variety of coffee drinks.

Pairings and Pastries

Coffee and pastries go hand in hand, and the best coffee shops know how to do both right. Whether you’re in the mood for a sweet treat or a savory snack, there’s a pastry out there that will perfectly complement your coffee.

Some popular coffee and pastry pairings in Illinois include honey and caramel lattes with Do-Rite Donuts in Chicago, and cayenne and matcha drinks with Green Street Smoked Meats in Champaign.

Overall, a great coffee experience is all about the perfect combination of ambiance, service, and flavors. With so many great coffee shops to choose from in Illinois, there’s never been a better time to explore the world of coffee.

Scroll to Top