Chicago Coffee Shop Series | West Loop + Ukrainian Village

Coffee is in my blood. I swear the smell of it alone can instantly put me in a good mood. Unique coffee shops with interesting stories or funky vibes indulge my addiction. One of my favorite things to do while traveling is find the local favorites. What I love to do in my own city is become the expert so I can share the best spots whether you’re looking to unplug, catch up with a friend or get things done. We’re heading to the West Side of Chicago for a few gems that have become personal favorites. From hidden spots in the West Loop to a unique coffee shop with cool history in the Ukrainian Village, you’ll be heading to at least a few of these whether you’re in town visiting or a local.

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Atomix | 1957 West Chicago Avenue
Located in West Town, Atomix Cafe is more diner-like than coffee shop. Classic diner tables, chairs and booths fill the space for a cafeteria-like feeling. For not being a particularly large space, Atomix has plenty of seating . You'll find people getting in a few emails during a break or using the coffee shop as a makeshift office for a few hours. Their food and drink menu is expansive offering organic goods as well as vegan options. It’s a spot for everyone with plenty of natural lighting, good music and most important...lots of outlets. **Expert tip: Make sure to try the chips and salsa. DIVINE!

Wi-Fi: ✓ ← can be slow at times
Good for working: ✓
Food Selection: Full breakfast, lunch & dinner menus including vegan and vegetarian options.
Service: Friendly staff
Noise Level: Mild. Nothing too extreme to note.
Seating Space: Plenty of tables to crank out your day.
Outlets: Plentiful
Music: Great mix

Big Shoulders | 1105 West Chicago Avenue
For a classic corner coffee shop with tons of natural light, an ideal location and great coffee, Big Shoulders is your spot. With plenty of space and large tables for co-working, this would be a great spot for group work sessions. Host team meetings, interviews, whatever you need. If you need a place to chill between appointments, Big Shoulders is right off the blue line for easy transportation access.

Wi-Fi: ✓
Good for working: ✓
Food Selection: pastries and snacks
Service: Friendly
Noise Level: Low
Seating Space: Decent. Spacious but it’s a small space so it fills up during peak times.
Outlets: Not too many
Music: N/A

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C.C. Ferns | 2806 West Augusta
As far as uniqueness and originality go, C.C. Ferns wins the award. Located in Humboldt Park, C.C. Ferns is unlike any other coffee shop you will visit, guaranteed. The coffee shop has a funky, old-school vibe...kind of like you entered your grandfather’s dream den from 1955. It’s the type of place you could picture Marlon Brando or James Dean having a cigar or cigarette in the morning reading the paper and sipping the coffee. Did they even read the paper? Regardless, you get where I’m going with this. As if the design wasn’t enough to contribute to C.C. Ferns’ originality, they also sell a curated cigar selection. What’s even more, there’s a space in the back where you can book events or attend local musical gigs once in awhile. Like I said, award-winner for originality.

Wi-Fi: ✓
Good for working: ✓
Food Selection: Selection of doughnuts from Doughnut Vault, house-made croissants and local oatmeal
Service: Friendly
Noise Level: Low-Medium
Seating Space: Tons
Outlets: N/A
Music: N/A

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La Columbe - West Loop | 955 West Randolph
La Columbe and I had a rough start. When visiting a coffee shop, I almost always expect wi-fi...that was until I met La Columbe. I must have been the only person on the planet that didn’t know it was a “thing” that they didn’t have wi-fi. So when I stopped in on my first visit, expecting to have a productive morning, you bet I was let down. After that first visit and knowing what to expect, my next visits were much more pleasant. For example, I didn’t look like a complete idiot by asking the barista what the internet was. I also made sure that I had a day of writing planned for myself. The internet is a deadly distraction when it comes to productivity sometimes, especially while writing. Many of the visitors at La Columbe have their own means of attaining internet capabilities but I like to visit for an internet-free day of work. I’ll use my tablet or phone to stay on top of emails and social media but when I’m turned to my computer, my focus is on point. As far as customer service, they’re pretty chill. Besides that weird look I got that one time I asked for internet, I’ve always had friendly baristas who handle your drink order in superhuman speed.

Wi-Fi: NONE! I did not know this the first time I visited so please be advised if you don’t have some sort of traveling wi-fi or hotspot.
Good for working: ✓
Food Selection: Pastries and Snacks
Service: Efficient and Friendly
Noise Level: Varies
Seating Space: Plenty - Long tables for co-working and smaller tables for privacy
Outlets: Bountiful
Music: N/A

Sawada Coffee | 112 North Green Street
Located across the street from Soho House Chicago, this is one of the most un-coffee shop like coffee shops I’ve ever been to. It’s a funky spot in the West Loop that has become one of my favorites. The entrance door is adorned with graffiti making it blend in. If you’re not looking for it, you’ll definitely miss it. The coffeeshop is located within a loft building (like every other business in the West Loop). It expands farther because it’s also home to Green Street Smoked Meats. Find a selection of doughnuts from Doughnut Vault at Sawada while they last and expect one hell of a fantastic cup o’ joe. They also happen to own C.C. Ferns! Masterminds, these people are! **Expert Tip: Beware the blinding sun at the window seat in the morning. It’s brutal.

Wi-Fi: ✓
Good for working: ✓
Food Selection: Pastries available at the coffee shop but if you get hungry, just walk over to Green Street.
Service: Fantastic
Noise Level: Low during non-meal times, a little noisy when diners come in for lunch but not too bad.
Seating Space: Plenty of space especially since it extends into Green Street Smoked Meats.
Outlets: Scattered generously
Music: N/A

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