by Terry Gorman
Coffee beans, source of the energizing brew so many of us depend on daily, are thought to have been discovered in the northeastern African country of Ethiopia, perhaps in the ninth century. Arabs began to drink and trade it. By the 18th century coffee houses were flourishing in Europe, where music was played, politics discussed, and friendships established. It was for musical performances at one of these coffee houses that Bach wrote his charming and good-humored “Coffee Cantata.”
And it is said that the famous Boston Tea Party of 1773 pushed the United States into the coffee-drinking camp!
Here in Edgewater and Andersonville, we participate in this centuries-old coffee-drinking tradition with, count ‘em, eight establishments one could properly describe as coffee houses. With the deservedly popular Starbucks, that brings the total to ten.
That these establishments boast not only fine coffees but also sweets, savories, soups and salads, public bulletin boards – even wifi – speaks to their growing popularity as stopping off spots for relaxation and casual encounters.
Closest to Park Tower is the locally-owned Kitchen Sink. It’s at 1107 Berwyn, 733.944.0592, and online at kitchensinkcafe.com, with hours weekdays from 6:30 to 6:30 and weekends 7:30 to 5:00.
They serve Metropolis brand coffee (I like the dark roast version) and the wonderful and tasty (maybe even healthy) “take-a-hike” scone. Add to this the cranberry-orange muffin, and what more could you want, while seated at a comfortable table, but one of their delicious sandwiches.
Chicago Grind is at 5256 Broadway, 773-784-1305, online soon at chicagogrind.com, and also open at 6:30 on weekdays but at 7:00 on weekends. Their coffee is from Bow Truss, and they feature flatbreads plus one of my favorite brands of potato chips, Mrs. Vickie’s.
Zanzibar is at 1036 Bryn Mawr, 773-334-8302, and online at zanzibarchicago.net. It features Honduran coffee from Uncommon Coffee in Saugatuck, Michigan – also sandwiches named after local Chicago streets and ice cream from Madison, Wisconsin’s Chocolate Shoppe. Opens every day at 7:30 except on Sundays at 9 am. Get your ice cream fix every day until 9 pm.
Lovely, Too is at 1137 Bryn Mawr, 773-253-5335, with a spiffy online presence at Lovelybakeshop.com. Open weekdays 7:00 to 7:00, Saturdays 9:00 to 6:00, and Sundays 9:00 to 4:00. Here we met another Park Tower resident enjoying a cup of Ipsento-roasted coffee. Salads on request.
Now to Clark Street and a place listed by the magazine Bon Appetit in its National Hot 10 /Best Boutique Coffee Shops: The Coffee Studio, at 5628 N. Clark, 773-271-7881, online at thecoffeestudio.com, and open 6:30 to 9:00 every day. They serve Intelligentsia coffee, and I had to admit that drinking one of their “pour-over” coffees, a drink ground and brewed just for you, brought to mind an elegant bottle of wine served to guests in your home. Some coffee drinks are available with alcohol.
La Colombe is at 5158 N. Clark, 773-942-7090, online at lacolombe.com, and open every day 7:00 to 7:00. No wifi as of mid-April, but what they have is well worth the healthy walk from Park Tower. My favorites are the best oatmeal-raisin cookie I’ve ever had and a Basque cake which one of our friends is now addicted to.
In case you’re feeling a little guilty about spending so extravagantly at these fine establishments .. , try First Slice Pie Café at 5357 N. Ashland, 773-275-4297, and online at firstslice.org. The coffee and pies are excellent, and the shop uses its profits to provide meals to the needy.
In another direction (north) is Metropolis Coffee Cafe, 1039 Granville, 773-764-0400, and online at metropoliscoffee.com. Open ’til 8 pm daily, they serve delicious savories from Middle East Bakery and desserts from Hoosier Mama Pie.
All the above houses have a tip jar available should you want to implement your own version of a minimum wage for staff.
So, do as I did for this article. Walk to any of these and find your favorite. Be seen, people-watch, peer at your computer screen, socialize and get your supply of energy.
Oh Yes! Don’t forget Mariano’s and McDonald’s just down the block and the redoubtable Starbucks on both Bryn Mawr and on Clark. Closer yet? Our own Park Tower Market with seating, free wifi, and another fine brand of chips, Deep River, just a few steps away.