Food

L-Stop Musts: The Coffee Edition

Raven WaltersSol Cafe is nestled on West Howard Street.

Walking to your destination after a long, stuffy L ride is more enjoyable when your destination is a coffee shop. There’s one one hiding around every corner in Chicago. We rated four of the spots easily accessible from the L.

Wilson: Emerald City Coffee (1224 W. Wilson Ave.)

Grace Gonsalves Emerald is open 8 a.m.to 3 p.m. daily.

Walking in, it’s apparent that local art and well-crafted coffee are the basis of this stop. The strong aroma of coffee fills the colorful room. Between the couple of women talking seriously in a corner and the man staring down his laptop, all that’s missing are the college kids playing the piano in the corner or the board games at a table. 

The section of the menu that stands out is the “Something Different” board boasting 10 combinations of caffeine and orange peel. The barista recommends the “Caffe Medici” which is described as “doppio poured over chocolate & orange peel topped with a dollop of whipped cream.” The other is the “Cafe Miel” which is “espresso poured over honey, cinnamon and  nutmeg then topped with steamed milk.”

The shop, and piano, are open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. everyday. While the iced Irish cream latte boosted the coffee rating, the fun but distracting atmosphere lowered the study rating. 

It has earned 4/5 coffee cups rating and a 3/5 study rating.

Bryn Mawr: Mama K’s Cafe (1036 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.)

Grace Gonsalves Mama K’s Cafe (1036 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.) is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day.

Right down the street from the Bryn Mawr stop is a quaint coffee and ice cream cafe. Mama K’s boasts a full menu of breakfast, lunch and pastries — most notably the complete crepe menu.

Inside are diner-style booths perfect for immersive studying, along with Nashville-style Hatch Show Print style posters of local areas. It’s open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m everyday — but getting there before 11 a.m. will guarantee you a perfect spot to sit.

However as good as the iced latte was, more variety in options would be nice. There is nothing offered past the basics of coffee here. 

It has earned 3/5 coffee cups rating and a 5/5 study rating.

Jarvis: Charmers Food and Floral Cafe (1500 W. Jarvis Ave.)

Grace Gonsalves Jarvis’ Charmers Food and Floral Cafe.

For those wanting an outdoor, community-based atmosphere, consider Charmers Food and Floral Cafe. Open from 7 a.m.to 5 p.m Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, this floral cafe has a packed menu with various meals, coffees and other drink options — a big win for all the matcha lovers out there.  

Since the cafe is completely outside, there’s a nice neighborhood feel. People bring their dogs and converse in the charming, patio-like outdoor seating areas. It’s also a great pick for those who are more COVID-cautious.

The downside to a fully outdoor cafe is it makes it more difficult to study. The bugs and exposure to the elements may make it tough to be comfortable, so while it’s great for eating out or grabbing a quick macchiato, it isn’t the ideal location for getting that last minute assignment  done.

This quaint cafe has earned a 5/5 coffee cups rating and a 2/5 study rating.

Howard: Sol Cafe (1615 W. Howard St.)

Raven Walters Sol Cafe (1615 W. Howard St.), off the Howard stop, is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.

With plants, a 1970s retro twist and a “Peppa Fig” coffee drink, Sol Cafe is a hip visit. The music and setting of this spot is most suitable for studying. Upbeat-cafe type jazz music hangs in the air alongside coffee sack-style hanging lights. 

The room is set up with an open bar, plants hanging from the walls and light, earthy decor. The most intriguing furnishings — present throughout the cafe and bar — are the jars of random sprouts and seeds scattered around on tables between vases and pots of plants. 

In numbers, Sol is only a two-minute walk from the Howard stop and is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. everyday.

The ratings for this shop were 3/5 cups due to prices and a 4/5 study spot thanks to the music and relaxing energy. 

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