the search for great coffee pt 3

Yes, I realize it’s been two months since I have actually posted an update on this topic, however…life has been moving at warp speed lately so I have had a hard time actually getting out of my neighborhood.  However, this week my lovely roommate, Roomsmate, was craving hot dogs so we went out to Lincoln Park to a Chicago Hot Dog place that she had heard about and while we were in the area I convinced her to let me stop in at a coffee shop on my list.
So I got to go into Darkcloud: Urban Coffee Lab which was ranked at #10 on the list.  First of all the name intrigued me most of all.  Then I walked in, expecting a dark and dingy lab basement and found all white alls and clean.  It was definitely not what I had expected.  I stepped up to order and being that it was about 7 or 8 pm on a Saturday night, I was the only person there.  The workers were really nice and super friendly.  They also brew by the cup and it is a very interesting brew process.  A quote from my list’s description sums it up nicely, “Coffee fiends will want to drop in to taste the supremely subtle, nuanced results of the Siphon—a two-chamber glass implement that brews coffee via heat-powered vacuum—but others might find the excessively deliberate coffee methods here a tad too precious.”
I found that the coffee had nice flavor and wasn’t too bitter.  Overall I think I would go back there, but the atmosphere would not be right for a study place.  But maybe if I just wanted a quick cup of coffee on the way to the zoo or something in that area.

the quest for great coffee pt 2

Yesterday afternoon I made a plan to hang out with the Best Friend and after she picked me up she suggested that we go to Julius Meinl.  Which, coincidentally, is on the list!  Scoring at number 7, Julius Meinl is an Austria-based coffee shop that serves every cup of coffee on a tray with a glass of water and a biscuit.
Now this coffee shop was one of the only one’s on the list I had ever even heard of, having driven by it several times but never going in.  Best Friend had never been there either and we had a plan to go and talk for a while and then do some work/homework.
On a Saturday afternoon, the Julius Meinl we went to was packed.  Located in southern Lincoln Square it was pretty packed with people.  We walked in and realized that everything we had thought of this coffee shop was incorrect.  It is definitely higher end of coffee shop, fully equipped with a “please wait to be seated” sign.
Because I had already had too much coffee yesterday, I ordered a White Toffee Tea Latte off of the specials menu.  Let me tell you, it was delicious.  The atmosphere was great for community with a close friend.  The service was friendly and the price was about even with the atmosphere and product you were receiving.  I would discourage people from trying to actually study there, it’s not the right atmosphere, but go with a good friend.
They also had food that looked really delicious.  So everyone, go check it out with a friend that you want to catch up with.  Go there, sit for a while and enjoy the little escape from living in the middle of a city.
Two down, thirteen to go.  So far this challenge has gotten me out of my box and allowed me to enjoy some good community.  I’m stoked to see what else this challenge has in store for me.  Yeah, Buddy!
Here is a side note to just appreciate the day that I had yesterday.  I woke up early and had coffee with a few seminary girls to catch up on the events of the weekend.  Then I drove out to Ch’ava and did homework for a few hours before returning home to have lunch with my roomsmate.  We sat around and caught up for a while before I went to Julius Meinl with Best Friend.  She and I sat and chatted for a couple hours before I returned home to find Roomsmate hanging out with another one of our friends.  So we hung for a while then Roomsmate and I went to dinner and got ice cream cones at McDonalds.  After that the Swed gave us a Swedish lesson and we rounded the night out by watching a movie with the guys.
Yesterday was one of those days where I found myself unbelievably thankful for the community that surrounds me.  This week, as we’ve been re-entering into each others’ lives I have realized how lucky I am to have these friends in this place.  I’m excited to see what the rest of this year has for us all.

the quest for great coffee, pt 1

Since I moved to Chicago I’ve been desiring to get out into the surrounding areas and explore more.  Last semester in all my business I did not succeed at this goal.  However, yesterday my Roomsmate sent me an e-mail with a link in it to an article that yahoo did on the 15 best coffee shops in Chicago and as I read through them I thought, this is exactly what I need to get me out of my rut.
So I have taken on the goal of trying all 15 of these coffee shops in the next five and a half months.  It’s the perfect goal because my schedule is quite open on a lot of days of the week which means getting off campus and doing homework elsewhere is totally feasible.  So I’ve also decided to document them as I go.
Today finds me at Ch’ava Cafe in Ravenswood.  It was #2 on the list and I actually quite like it.  Definitely more of a cafe than a traditional coffee shop, it has floor to ceiling windows which provides a bright atmosphere.  They brew their coffees individually using a Clover machine (which, I believe, my good friend Eric uses at his coffee shop in Arvada, CO).  The employees are super nice and friendly, the guy taking my order offered up a suggestion of which coffee for me to try.
The coffee itself was delicious, a little on the pricey side for a brewed cup (in my opinion), but we are in Chicago I guess.  The decor is quite creative and modern.  White walls with orange accents, which I loved, and a few murals of trees painted on the walls, which I also love.  They have a full menu of salads, soups and sandwiches to go alongside the coffee and the smell and look of those are amazing.
Overall, I think this is a great little cafe.  I would love to see what the vibe is like during a weekday when it’s not so busy with people enjoying their Saturdays.  I will probably come back here but maybe more with friends for lunch than to study for any length of time, but who knows, the brightness of it really appeals to me.