The 10 Best Chicago Coffee Roasters You Should Know (A Complete Guide)

Last Updated on October 18, 2021 by John Moretti

I have to give credit where it’s due, and the coffee roasters in Chicago deserve some. They place a lot of effort into not just roasting the beans and preparing some robust and delicious brew, but in decor as well.

Most coffee bean roasters or cafes strike you from their signs to the entrance to the general theme inside. It makes you want to sip and work right there all day. Kudos!!

Now, Chicago might not stand up to some cities in terms of numbers and high-end coffee, but they sure do have some fantastic baristas who will knock your socks off with their creativity. Here are our top ten choices from the nearly forty coffee roasters in the metropolis.

  • Best Overall: Dark Matter, hands down, are the best roaster in town. Their process is smooth, coffee is always fresh, and their baristas ooze with talent.
  • Best Affordable: Jimmy Beans – has something for everyone. If you’re there to buy some beans, grab a cup of joe, study, work, or party, the dual-level coffee shop comes equipped to satisfy your needs.
  • Best Independently-owned: Coffee Lab & Roasters are divine. I love their cold brews, their coffee beans are pretty good, and everything is great about the atmosphere and pastries.

The 10 Best Chicago Coffee Roasters:

  • Jimmy Beans Coffee
  • Dark Matter Coffee
  • Passion House Coffee
  • Metric Coffee
  • Colectivo Coffee
  • Intelligentsia Coffee bars
  • Groundswell
  • Ipsento 606
  • Big Shoulders Coffee

Jimmy Beans – A Logan Square Coffee Roaster

Jimmy Beans welcomes you with the fantastic smell of all types of coffee beverages, making you stop and inhale before laughing it up with one of the friendly and talented baristas who will make you coffee drink if you’re not sure what you want and they’ll get it right.

They take pride in roasting fresh, tasty single-origin coffee while providing excellent customer service in a welcoming environment for all.

The storefront features two levels, with the action taking place downstairs. The coffee has been prepared and poured, the music is playing, and the energy is high. 

But it’s upstairs where they keep their secret; it’s peaceful, significant, and pleasant, making it ideal for working, studying, or simply enjoying a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

When you come in to get your beans, please be sure to taste a nitro-infused joe. It’s a luscious, silky brew that you didn’t see coming. If you’re feeling extra daring and want the purest coffee you can brew, this business is also a fantastic location to get some at-home roasting gear.

What I like:

  • Free cup with bean purchase
  • If you like spicy, their Coconut Kick latte is a beast with coconut syrup and pepper.
  • Jimmy(the owner) is often there roasting right in front of you
  • Lots of outlets if you need to charge your mobile devices
  • Constantly changing unique art upstairs in the events area

What I don’t like:

  • Update hours online when you’re adjusting closing time

Dark Matter Coffee

Talk about bold and vibrant, and that’s what you’ll get the minute you arrive at Dark Matter Coffee’s space covered in murals. Everything is colorful, from the decor to the coffee bags but don’t let that fool you because these guys are as talented as ever.

Ask the hundreds of folks who consistently rate them high. They focus on the community, sustainable coffee, and just being down to earth, but there is nothing earthy about the brews that are so heavenly.

I love the coffee flower honey, and of course, they offer breakfast blends, barrel-aged blends, espresso blends, and everything you want coffee for; they’ll freshly package for you.

By the way, they don’t just mix coffee, they mix music too, and it’s pretty good. For his album Dame Fortune, DMC and RJD2 collaborated to produce a bespoke espresso blend and mixtape. 

Classic beats, soul, funk, and ambient mood-synth bliss come together in this one-of-a-kind mix. You got the cassette version, if you’re lucky. Meanwhile, make sure to grab their limited monthly blends, which get rave reviews.

They have both seated and to-go locations. Don’t forget to try one of their nitro blends, like a vanilla suburb, or maybe try the black magic iced coffee. 

What I like:

  • Strong coffee
  • Amazing variety
  • Free cup with bean purchase
  • Sustainably grown coffee beans

What I don’t like:

  • Some roasts are bitter

Coffee Lab & Roasters

Lincoln Ave and Diversey Pkwy are nearby Coffee Lab & Roasters.

In Chicago’s Lakeview district, they are a tiny, independently operated coffee house and roaster.

They serve espresso-based cocktails and coffee made with BCBC Coffee Roasters’ freshly roasted fair-trade beans.

Slow Drip Cold Brew is their best-selling cold brew, also called Dutch Coffee or Kyoto Iced Coffee, created by gently dripping ice-cold water over freshly ground beans. The result is a coffee that is very smooth and robust, with a wide range of flavors.

Local Partners:

  • pHlour Bakery provides daily pastries.
  • Downstate Donuts’ for weekend donuts
  • Freeman House CHAi for chai concentration
  • Rishi Tea’s for  tea selection

It is a minority-owned business that gives back to the community that supports them. Please do not hesitate to try the honey mango latte, which, honestly, I think is an aphrodisiac.

What I like:

  • Great prices
  • Lattes are da bomb
  • Delicious cold brew and pastries
  • Very clean
  • Friendly staff
  • I can’t find anything to not like

Passion House

Passion House, a roasting establishment with four coffee cafes, sells its unique cold brew coffee in cans and kegs all year. The all-cast-iron coffee roaster that the corporation had imported from Germany is at the center of this operation.

It also sells a range of other unique coffees to go along with its far more well-known offerings. I love the Goose Island location.

A 1957 Probat UG-15, a completely cast-iron roaster developed in Germany, lies at the heart of our operation. They regulate the time, airflow, and temperature while roasting by hand with little technology to extract as much flavor as possible from each coffee. 

Passion House strives for supreme harmony in their coffees, balancing body, acidity, and sweetness, while accentuating the distinctive personality of each bean and the farmer who grows it. 

They scrutinize every portion of coffee they roast to maintain consistent quality; we take thorough notes on each coffee and use the information to keep their coffee flavors the way they want them to.

What I like:

  • Great selection of roasted coffee beans
  • Great aesthetics
  • Amazing brew selections

Metric Coffee

Want a chic spot to buy some coffee beans and grab a nice light meal? Metric coffee is the place for you with great whole coffee beans, delicious brews, and tasty pastries.

Most people love the Cortados with coconut milk(I am not biased because I love coconut milk). Pair yours with a hazelnut or pimento croissant, and your palate will thank you for it.

Want something ideal for breakfast? Try the dark chocolate mocha. Meanwhile, Metric gets its beans from two sources which they carefully vetted. Also, they advise you to store the beans correctly for the best brewing results.

If you keep the whole bean coffee in a cool, dark place in a sealed bag for two to four weeks, you’ll get the best flavor. They recommend ingesting ground coffee within a week of purchase. Otherwise, the taste will deteriorate.

What I like:

  • Family-friendly
  • Great whole bean selection
  • Pull a great shot
  • Lots of free parking
  • Espresso classes on Fridays

What I don’t like:

  • When the place is packed, it’s hard to find parking, so Uber/Lyft

Colectivo Coffee

If you love South American coffee, specifically Guatemalan, then Colectivo Coffee will roast you up a cup of deliciousness. For years, Colectivo Coffee which is of Guatemalan origin, operated as Alterra Coffee. 

They also source all their coffee from that South American country known for its great-tasting coffee beans. Troubadour Bakery is a bakery brand owned by a coffee shop.

High windows, outdoor seating, and paintings by Milwaukee artist Kevin Callahan decorate the store. As a result, it is the ideal neighborhood coffee shop.

In addition, the coffee shop has a terrific ambiance. Sandwiches, and cold and hot beverages, are in abundance. The menu is very reasonably priced.

It is the place to go whether you want to smell freshly made bread in the early hours, a hot espresso, or maybe a nitro cold brew.

What I like:

  • Great tasting coffee beans
  • Lots of food to pair with a wide variety of brews
  • Setting is lovely

Intelligentsia Coffee bars

Intelligentsia Coffee Bar, located in an industrial-chic environment, is a high-end coffee shop chain that serves daily roasted blends.

Want some of the world’s best coffee beans roasted to perfection in a lovely setting from some amazing baristas? You’re right to be looking up Intelligentsia Coffee because that’s what you’ll get and then some. 

Their beans, roasted to order, come from countries worldwide like Rwanda and Ethiopia in Africa and Guatemala as South and Central American countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. 

The company uses dedicated coffee professionals who cooperate in a shared, rigid setting and dedication to quality. They prove it in their roasted coffee beans, from single-origin unique selection to organic breakfast blends.

We appreciate companies who are open about their processes, and Intelligentsia is one of them. It offers tours of its roasting operation, which supplies beans to four places throughout the metropolitan area weekly. 

We can seek information about how the production happens, and at the end, you’ll receive a free half-pound sack of coffee. It provides responsibly harvested single-origin and mixed coffees.

What I like:

  • Baristas are very helpful and make great suggestions
  • Make great tasting cold and hot brews
  • Great music and atmosphere
  • If you have a friend who doesn’t drink coffee(like mine), then grab a hot chocolate; it’s the best

Why I don’t like:

  • Long lines
  • A bit pricey
  • Always crowded(unless you don’t mind that)

Groundswell Coffee Roasters 

It’s a relaxed cafe with single-origin coffee roasted on-site, as well as pastries and panini. Their delicious coffee beans come from South American countries like Honduras and Costa Rica, as well as the African country Ethiopia, known for its amazing berries. 

Meanwhile, this location serves delicious grilled cheese, turkey, and breakfast sandwiches to its coffee-loving customers. You can order nicely baked blueberry muffins, cupcakes, and doughnuts. At this location, several guests enjoy great espresso, iced coffee, or matcha.

Groundswell Coffee Roasters remains noted for its excellent customer service and courteous personnel that are always willing to assist you. Dishes will be available at a reasonable cost. This establishment has a pleasant ambiance and elegant decor.

What I like:

  • Great espresso
  • Nice sandwiches
  • Baristas and staff, in general, are welcoming

What I don’t like:

  • Sometimes hard to find seating 

Ipsento 606

Ipsento works with growers worldwide to bring freshly roasted coffees that showcase each country, region, and producer’s hard work and distinctiveness.

At night, the upscale cafe transforms into a handcrafted cocktail bar with its house-made tiny doughnuts and specialty lattes. The whole day, you can also choose from a small sandwich selection and desserts, and the espresso machine remains open until closing.

A magnificent street mural welcomes you as you approach the entrance. The interior design gives the impression of being inside a spaceship. The cabinets and machines, as well as the whole atmosphere, are all one-of-a-kind. It also has high ceilings, which create a vast ambiance filled with the aroma of roasted beans.

It is undoubtedly one of Chicago’s top coffee shops, thronging with youngsters and Laptop users. Naturally, the coffee shop takes great care in its product. It also offers coffee-related classes. Additionally, public tasting sessions are a common occurrence at this location.

What I like:

  • Public tasting sessions
  • The aroma upon entering is amazing
  • Buying their coffee, but you’re a novice? Don’t worry; they’ll teach you
  • They take pride in making some fantastic brews
  • Ipsento latte is amazing

What I don’t like:

  • Pricey

Big Shoulders Coffee

They strive for fresh-made, serious artisan coffee at Big Shoulders Coffee. Their coffee is the result of a passion for people, food, and culture. Tim Coonan, the company’s founder, began his career as a chef at some of New York’s most renowned restaurants, as well as in Chicago, Italy, and France. 

His passion for coffee began in the 1980s when he traveled to origins and explored roasting procedures. What started as a pastime roasting coffee in his home has grown into Chicago’s finest delicate tasting plant as well as Big Shoulders Coffee cafés.

Each mug of Big Shoulders coffee bears the imprint of a chef’s meticulous attention to detail. They purchase beans from farmers with whom they have developed long-term connections and roasted to maintain the coffee’s integrity and taste. Big Shoulder brews the coffee with millisecond precision. You’ll be able to tell the difference.

Big Shoulders Coffee was created as a perfect place to go for relaxation and an opportunity to unwind away from work and home. 

The venues are havens where you can relax and enjoy the aromas and flavors of their freshly roasted coffee in a friendly setting.

What I like:

  • Relaxing atmosphere
  • Free drink when you buy a bag of beans
  • Great freshly-made coffee
  • Can’t do to-go, have to sit and sip
  • The horchata is a blast
  • Amazing nitro cold brews
  • Incredible espressos

What I don’t like:

  • Wifi is not always great.

What to Look For

Find out where they source the coffee beans when choosing a roaster. Additionally, they should be freshly roasted daily to give you the best-tasting brew. 

The brewing process is visible is a plus and, even more so, the roasting. It’s great when the coffee shop offers tours so you can see the process and cleanliness. 

Friendly baristas will help you get ideas for homemade brews. When a place isn’t crowded, they take time to make your drink to perfection, so look out for that.

Bottom Line

As mentioned earlier, there are almost forty shops, and most of them have a higher than 4.5-star rating. However, while some are great in one area, they might be lacking in others. Therefore, I selected Chicago coffee roasters who were consistent across the board, hence my top ten. I genuinely hope that you’ll have a blast. When next you choose to visit or live there and haven’t tried one on the list, then now’s the time. Enjoy!