The ambience of coffee shops simply can’t be beat. They’re a great place to socialize or get work done but in a more relaxed setting, sipping a delicious handcrafted beverage.
Chicago is chock-full of great coffee shops — both locally owned and corporate chains — and the caffeine scene is constantly growing.
With so many options and fairly standard menus, it can be difficult to weed out which are worth visiting, so The Phoenix has compiled a list of five local coffee shops within walking distance of the Red Line, each with its own unique charm.
(1615 W. Howard St.)
Sol Cafe is no hidden gem. A short walk from the Howard Red Line stop, it’s well-known and well-loved among many Rogers Park residents and Loyola students.
Sol’s botanical atmosphere sets it apart from other shops. The cafe is stuffed to the brim with plants of all shapes and sizes — adorning floors, walls and even ceilings — making visitors feel as if they’ve just entered a jungle. Some of the plants are even available for purchase.
Sol offers an ever-changing seasonal drink menu larger than most cafes, containing specialty teas and coffees with clever names. One such drink is the “Oh My Gourd,” which is espresso blended with pumpkin puree, coconut cream, curry and milk. They also have a whole menu board dedicated to “eats,” with a large selection of sandwiches and grain bowls in addition to baked goods.
Sol Cafe is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday. It even offers $1 coffee every Monday.
(935 W. Wilson Ave.)
Everybody’s Coffee finds its home just a few blocks east of the Wilson stop. Some coffee shops are small and cramped, forcing strangers to become very close very quickly. Everybody’s Coffee is not one of those shops. The cafe’s large open space gives guests at tables and chairs room to breathe.
The breathability of the space also makes it an apt choice for work meetings, as proven by the shop’s general crowd of working adults.
The cafe has a limited menu — but what it lacks in that area it makes up for in special events. In addition to its regular seating area, Everybody’s Coffee houses a separate adjoining room, where it hosts regular art exhibitions and live music performances for local artists and performers.
With events such as these, Everybody’s Coffee has become active in its local community. The shop also encourages community building by spreading inclusive messages through coffee sleeves that say “Everybody deserves great coffee” and posters with the slogan “Filter coffee not people.”
Everybody’s Coffee is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Emerald City Coffee
(3938 N. Sheridan Road)
Located directly under the Sheridan stop is Emerald City Coffee, an artsy shop with a pretty standard menu. They have traditional beverages such as drip coffee and americanos, along with more indulgent drinks including lattes and macchiatos. The cafe’s cozy vibes are perfect for the cooler months.
Eclectic art pieces lining the walls and posters advertising local shows and events strewn across tables and windows contribute to its artistic feel. Music of all genres — but typically softer beats — floats through the speakers and blends nicely with the shop’s soft yellow lighting.
A bookshelf stacked haphazardly with board games stands right next to a fireplace and large leather couch, giving the shop a homey feel that encourages visitors to relax and stay awhile.
Emerald City is open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Stone Creek Coffee
(939 W. Belmont Ave.)
Mere steps from the Belmont stop resides a relatively new shop, Stone Creek Coffee. The cafe opened its doors April 2019 and features both a walk-up window for the morning commuters and plenty of seating for those looking to warm up inside.
Stone Creek’s menu offers traditional coffee and tea beverages alongside a wide assortment of flavored lattes, available hot, iced or frozen. Housemade flavors include vanilla bean, lavender, cardamom and mocha, and seasonal flavors include pumpkin spice and maple — and those are just some of the flavors.
With ample lighting and a fascination with geek culture (its Instagram bio brags “We are #CoffeeGeeks), Stone Creek is often populated by people who are getting work done — or are at least good at faking it. From diligent students to working professionals, laptops and headphones are ubiquitous.
Stone Creek Coffee is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and is giving out free coffee or espresso-based beverages every Tuesday in November.
Big Shoulders Coffee
(858 N. State St.)
Big Shoulders Coffee has multiple locations throughout Chicago, one of which is right off of Loyola’s Water Tower Campus, making it just a few blocks from the Chicago Red Line station.
Named after the line “City of the Big Shoulders” in Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago,” Big Shoulders is a quaint, minimalist coffee shop often populated by corporate adults due to its Gold Coast location.
White tile and walls — along with plenty of overhead lighting and lamp light — make for a bright working space. Located at the intersection of North State and West Chestnut Streets, the shop has a bar-style table that overlooks the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago. With only a few other tables and chairs, seating is limited.
The cafe offers traditional coffee beverages, a small selection of teas and a few signature beverages such as the marshmallow latte and the golden latte — made with turmeric, cayenne and honey.
Big Shoulders Coffee is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.