Wicker Park arguably has the best neighborhood selection of coffee places in Chicago. Options abound from the ubiquitous Dunkin’ Donuts/Starbucks (they don’t deserve a spot in this review because plenty has been written about both of these places) to one of the only outposts in the midwest (Bagel on Damen) that has the much revered Stumptown coffee.
Here is a rundown of what’s out there and what each brings to the table for today’s discerning coffee drinker and/or anyone that’s ready to break away from the bigger names in coffee. This tour is necessary because those unfamiliar with the neighborhood may not be aware that the place with the best drip coffee (for me, Bagel on Damen) doesn’t have any kind of cappucino to offer. The ins and outs of the local establishment are, for lack of a better word, kind of complex.
Seriously, stage a blind taste test of their coffee with something from Starbucks. You will never buy Starbucks again. Starbucks gets their signature flavor by over-roasting their beans which leads to a kind of burnt taste and lack of depth. Stumptown Coffee from BoD carries the subtleties that Starbucks burned away. However, as previously mentioned, a couple varieties of drip coffee are all that you get here. This is not the place for espresso drinkers.
The available food includes bagels, bagel sandwiches, soups and salads. BoD is kind of like a NYC deli in terms of feel and customer experience. In other words, it’s not a great setup for sitting around and doing “coffeehouse” activities. However, I do walk quite a ways out my way to get their coffee on a fairly regular basis. This is definitely the place to go if you want a great regular cup of coffee, well…to go.