Coffee Travels: Chicago

I’ve been to Chicago twice this summer, once for Coffee Fest and a couple months later for a brief work trip. My wife even said that if I visit Chicago once more without her, she will refuse to take a trip there together because she’s angry at the city that took me away multiple times.

Well she can relax… there are no more Chicago trips on the horizon, which is a bummer, as I’ve yet to get out and explore the city’s vibrant coffee community. My time in June was focused completely on Coffee Fest, and the recent excursion for work was just as brief, but I did sneak in a quick evening to check out a local shop and chat with a coffee friend I met in June.

I met Justin from Kyoto Black during the Cold Brew competition at Coffee Fest, and his slow-drip coffee was my personal favorite. He was kind enough to meet me for a drink and chat about coffee, which got me out of the skyscrapers and into a local roaster for the first time.

He recommended Ipsento 606, a hip coffee shop with a full bar menu in the evening. Even on a weeknight, the place was hopping. I enjoyed a glass of their nitro cold brew (a Guatemala/Brazil blend, if I remember correctly) and one of the guys working the bar gave me a taste of a single origin nitro as well. Both were delicious, and I wished our hotel wasn’t 20 minutes away by train as I’d love to spend some time there in the morning hours.

I had a great time chatting with Justin about his cold brew, hearing the story of how he got started and seeing his passion for coffee come through in every word. He brought me a sample of his new bottles, which I savored the next morning before heading to the airport.

That bottle is dialed-in!

Smooth and rich, it had more body than you might expect from slow-drip cold brew. Kyoto Black is also available in pouches of concentrate, which you can order online, so there’s a good chance you’ll read about it again in the near future.

While I did pick up some souvenirs at Ipsento (including a bag of their Wildfire blend for my own batch of cold brew), our walk to the train on our way to the airport took us by Intelligentsia’s Millennium Park Coffeebar, so I swung in for more beans and some hot coffee to balance the cloudy Chicago morning. The shop was decently busy even after the morning rush, but the staff was friendly and helpful.

Sadly, that was the limit of my Chicago coffee experience. I don’t know when I’ll be back, especially as our boys are a bit too young to enjoy that kind of city traveling, but Chicago will remain on my list of coffee destinations and next time I’ll make a proper tour.