As I have been working my way through the coffee scene in Bucktown and Wicker Park, I have (purely through luck in timing) been able to witness a little bit of a revolution in how coffee is being served and produced in the neighborhood. Fairly recently, three new coffee outlets have made it to WPB and are pushing past the standard “cafe that serves drip coffee and espresso drinks” model that has become so common. For instance, Caffe Streets does those things but also sources all kinds of different coffee styles for pour-overs (a method of brewing by pouring hot water over grounds in a filter by hand) that really accentuate the differences in the coffee flavors. Cafe Ipsento does this as well, but even goes farther by roasting its coffee varietals on site.
Why all of this background information? Because it makes it easy to see how Buzz:Killer Espresso fits right in between Ipsento and Streets. They produce their own roasts (though it is not done on premises) and the baristas will profess their love for the care that is being taken in providing coffee these days. However, in my experience they haven’t gotten nearly as wonky as the Ipsento people tend to. The first pour over that I had at Buzz was an Ethiopian Sidamo blend that was really great (as far as continents go, I prefer African coffees to the others). The coffee purist will have a tough time finding a better experience than this.
Of course, this comes with the caveat that pour overs are not exactly cheap. They generally will follow the market price for particular beans and some coffee beans are very expensive. For someone who is not particularly into drinking coffee black and really trying to pick out the flavors, a pour over may not be the best choice.
As far as the espresso drinks go, I have had soy lattes from Buzz and they were carefully made, but, ultimately, tasted a little too strongly of soy milk. This isn’t uncommon, and I will be truly impressed when I find a place that masks the strong flavor of soy milk really well.
One of the big advantages to Buzz is that the service there has been quite good, friendly and informative. I’ve definitely been to places where the baristas were kind of snooty (Caffe Streets), lazy and off-putting (The Wormhole) or somewhat inconsistent (Ipsento). My interactions at Buzz have been really good every time. Overall, if you like really good coffee and a friendly place to get it, Buzz:Killer Espresso is the place for you.