Where to Get Coffee in Chicago’s Loop
In Downtown Chicago, there’s a cafe on every corner. If you find yourself in the area commonly known as the Loop, you’re likely to succumb to convenience and stop at the closest Starbucks for a coffee and a snack. Instead, stop by one of these local favorites. These are some of the best downtown Chicago coffee spots I’ve discovered in my time here. You’ll be buzzing with energy to explore Millennium Park or shop on Michigan Avenue after refuelling at one of these cafes!
This buzzing cafe has a mix of tourists, corporate crowd and locals consistently stopping in for some seriously strong coffee and pastries. Intelligentsia also stocks baked goods from Floriole, one of my favorite Chicago bakeries. This cafe has mostly bar seating so it might not be the best spot if you want to sit at your laptop and tap away at emails. It is, however, a great place to meet friends or refuel solo.
The comfiest yet sleekest of all these cafes, Two Zero Three is the place to go if you want to sit at a cafe all day long. The large leather chairs are perfect to cozy up on! The massive almond croissants go well with the very potent Dark Matter coffee. The ambience makes it a good place to go whether you’re clicking and clacking away on your laptop, people-watching from the windows looking out on the street or catching up with friends or colleagues.
Fairgrounds serves a wide selection of coffee from local and national coffee roasters, as well as tea. There’s something for everyone at this small cafe on the ground floor of the Chicago Athletic Association hotel. It is usually pretty busy. In the summer, they have a lovely patio area and in the winter you’re usually welcome to go up to the hotel lobby to sit if there are no seats in the cafe. Be sure to walk around the historic hotel after if you have a few minutes!
With a new location in the Loop at LaSalle (as well as the Insta-famous alley location on Jackson), Hero is definitely a big name in the Chicago coffee scene. If you’re adventurous with your coffee, they offer seasonal specials like a Spring Berry latte as well as permanent specialties like a honey nut latte and lavender latte on the menu. The location on Jackson is very small – I’d only recommend it for a quick pick-up.
Revival Food Hall is one of my favorite places to grab a quick lunch or coffee because it is quite literally a hall with food stations. I especially love Revival Cafe because 1. it’s always lively 2. the coffee is good 3. Hot Chocolate Bakery (an offshoot of Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, the famous Chicago hot chocolatier and bakery) is right next to it. The cafe here also offers oat milk if you’re vegan.
Big Shoulders was an under-the-radar cafe (for me, at least) in Chicago coffee scene. I had never heard of it and stumbled upon it one morning when I was going to a friend’s apartment and needed coffee. I try to avoid the big chains and favor local cafes instead – I was pleasantly surprised by Big Shoulders. They have a signature Marshmallow latte which I haven’t tried but I can vouch for the quality of the coffee beans they use. My iced latte was smooth yet flavorful. The space is quite small with a few bar seats. Bonus: they have a wide selection of pastries, including donuts from local favorite Do-Rite!
More Chicago favorites: Farmer’s Market at Daley Plaza