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Coffee Shops in the Age of COVID: 3 Spots to (Safely) Get Your Caffeine Fix

Courtesy of Mason GreenThe Bourgeois Pig Cafe (above), with its spacious outdoor seating, is just one of many coffee shops in Chicago available for Loyola students to stop in for a coffee fix during a global pandemic.

A quintessential experience for any student in Rogers Park is visiting a local coffee shop to meet up with friends, curl up with a good book or have a much-needed study session. The relaxing atmosphere of a coffee shop can provide a great break from the monotony of online classes, whether it be a short stop to pick up your favorite drink or to break out your laptop and stay a while.

It can be difficult to choose which coffee shops to visit in ordinary times, and even more so during the pandemic as businesses update their practices regularly. The Phoenix compiled a short list of our favorite coffee spots off the Red Line and chatted with each about their menu and safety procedures.

The Common Cup — 1501 W. Morse Ave.

Across the street from the Morse CTA Red Line stop — a 15-minute walk from Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus— The Common Cup is a Black-owned hidden gem that offers traditional cafe fare and a rotating selection of fresh-baked pastries. The store has large ceiling-to-floor windows, inviting its customers to spend a sunny afternoon in Rogers Park drinking a hand-crafted latte while soaking up the sun. The Common Cup’s seasonal specials include an “Almond Burr Latte”— a mixture of almond and caramel flavoring with cinnamon for a sweet welcome to fall.

Additionally, The Common Cup offers a special student loyalty card for all Ramblers — every fifth drink is on the house.

The Common Cup offers in-store pickup and limited dining room capacity. Its safety practices include regularly wiping down countertops and tables, and requiring all patrons to wear masks when interacting with staff. The Common Cup has outdoor seating and limited indoor dining.

The Common Cup is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. 

Emerald City Coffee — 1224 W. Wilson Ave.

Tucked just beneath the Sheridan CTA Red Line stop, Emerald City offers an artsy, urban atmosphere that contrasts with traditional coffee shops. Emerald City is a hub for community activity. The walls of the shop are plastered with colorful flyers featuring local art, initiatives and events. The warm, yellow lamps cast a welcoming glow, inviting the customer to sit back and relax on one of the many comfortable leather seats. 

Emerald City offers americanos, lattes, and other traditional coffee drinks, as well as specialties such as the “Cafe Miel”— a mixture of espresso, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and milk. Its menu includes pastries and sandwiches made on homemade sourdough bread. Emerald City’s seasonal fall drinks include the popular pumpkin spice latte and the “Mexican Mocha”— a mocha with a hint of cayenne pepper for an extra kick.

Emerald City is open for pick-up and indoor dining. Its tables are six feet apart and they require customers to wear face masks when interacting with staff

“The staff wipes down tables after each customer leaves and we sanitize high-touch surfaces like countertops and door handles,” barista Hanna Klein told The Phoenix.  “We take our customer’s safety very, very seriously.”

Emerald City Coffee is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and closes early at 1 p.m. on Sundays.

 Bourgeois Pig Cafe — 738 W. Fullerton Ave.

A short walk from the Fullerton CTA Red Line stop and across the street from DePaul University’s Lincoln Park Campus, crossing the doors of the Bourgeois Pig Cafe transports its customers to Chicago from a century past. Portraits in vintage gold frames line the walls and antiques from all decades sit on shelves and tables. A globe stands in one corner, close to a towering walnut bookshelf lined with yellowed, well-loved books.

As the cooler weather arrives, the Bourgeois Pig Cafe plans to open up some of its indoor seating and invite customers inside once more. Until then, the Bourgeois Pig Cafe offers a spacious outdoor patio with tables spaced out appropriately.

The cafe serves lattes, macchiatos, cortados and other coffee drinks. It also has an extensive collection of tea that occupies an entire bookshelf, perfect for those who want the cafe experience but don’t like coffee. A popular non-coffee drink is its homemade chai. The Bourgeois Pig Cafe’s chai is a blend of multiple spices, including cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom and vanilla. It’s typically served hot with milk as a creamy chai tea latte.

Owner Mason Green told The Phoenix about the Bourgeois Pig’s safety protocols and how COVID-19 has impacted his business. The cafe follows city-mandated cleaning practices such as wiping down tables, door knobs and menus often. All visitors must wear a mask while ordering inside the shop. 

He said he’s been pleasantly surprised by the resurgence of his menu’s “sleeper items” — the cafe’s homemade salads and sandwiches — and the increase of business in August. Currently, he’s working to obtain a liquor license to open a speakeasy on the second floor of the Bourgeois Pig building, channeling the historic feel of his business into another venture.

The Bourgeois Pig Cafe is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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