Archive for Intelligentsia

Chicago Local Wins Barista Champ!

Posted in Coffee News with tags , , , on March 10, 2009 by Robb Olson

Chicago local Mike Phillips of Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea (3123 N Broadway) won the title of the 2009 US Barista Champion.

Phillips. Image borrowed from USBC website.

Phillips. Image borrowed from USBC website.

2nd through 6th place honors went to baristas from: Intelligentsia – LA (2nd), Alterra – Milwaukee WI (3rd), Intelligentsia – LA (4th), Intelligentsia – LA (5th), and finally Kaldi’s Coffee – St Louis MO (6th).

Trend? Looks like Intelligentsia has their shit together. I can attest that Alterra also has insanely good coffee and great fun stores.

More info on the championship here.


The Grind Cafe

Posted in Cafe with tags , , , , on May 10, 2008 by Robb Olson

The Grind
4613 N Lincoln
Chicago, IL 60625

The Breakdown:
Hours: Mon Thru Fri 7 – 10, Sat 8 – 10, Sun 8 – 7
Wi-Fi: Free.
Fair Trade: The Grind uses Intelligentsia coffee, which is Fair Trade and a local Chicago Roaster and coffee company.
Vegan/Vegetarian Friendly: Almost exclusively vegetarian – vegan friendly (The vegan baked good are made exclusively for Grind by a local woman)
Menu: Mostly sandwiches and Salads, also Quiche selections, Spinach pies, extensive choice of baked goods and Vegan baked goods.
Outdoor seating: Weather Permitting
Public Trans: near Lincoln, Lawrence, Damen, Western buses, Brown Line Western Stop.
My eats: Large Iced Mocha, Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie, Tuna Melt with house salad, balsamic vinegrette.

Avoiding the Mermaid: You could have very easily gone to the Starbucks on Wilson and Lincoln, but you would have missed out on the local children’s art hanging on the walls, the extensive sandwich menu, and the short hop across the street to the Davis Theater to see Iron Man!

The Grind is certainly the cherry on top of the delicious treat that is Lincoln Square. Considered the German neighborhood (or one of them) of Chicago, Lincoln Square brings much charm to the table, starting with the recently placed section of the Berlin Wall at the Western Brown Line stop and going all the way to the annual Apple Festival – and all schools of folk music in-between.

So after a busy day of hitting shops like Ravenswood Used Bookstore, Merz Apothecary, Laurie’s Planet of Sound, and the dozens of other shops, boutiques and restaurants that Lincoln Square has to offer, get your second wind sipping a Latte at this great little shop.

Grind has location, and thanks to that it is usually pretty full of laptop wielding hipsters (gratifyingly Apple-heavy, in my opinion) and guitar-toting musicians headed to or from the Old Town School of Folk Music, a block or so south. But surprisingly, my most recent visit was pre-movie viewing Friday night around 8pm, and it was surprisingly quiet. A good note for those of you who like a little peace with your Doppio.

Inside, you’ll find a simplistic floor plan with a dozen or so two-seat tables pretty much laid out in a grid. Lining the walls is whatever selection of local art they have at the moment, currently (as of this writing) it is a collection of Lincoln Square Children’s art. Adorable. You’ll have to walk through the kitchen area to get to the single occupant, locking unisex bathroom. It’s tiny and has character. What do you want? It’s a bathroom.

Their menu boasts an impressive selection of almost exclusively meat-free sandwiches (some tuna for you pescetarians,) salads, soups, and a nice breakfast selection. Anyone who’s into Hummus and Mediterranean styled light sandwiches (lots of greens, hummus, cucumbers, cheese) will delight in the selection here. Another treat that, in my opinion spices up any menu, is the spinach & cheese baked pies they have to offer. In my travels, these little triangles of simplistic taste bud tantalization are a sign of a fun, friendly place to get your java on.

While on the topic, they stock Intelligentsia coffee, which is, like, the Fair Trade kings of Chicago. I don’t even want to go into detail, just go to their website and bask in their fairness. The drinks are good. My mocha didn’t taste like chocolate milk it tasted like a coffee drink, which goes a long way for me. The sweet-toothed coffee lovers might want to ask for a little extra mocha love when ordering.
The staff is your typical twenty-somethings. Friendly kids, Sharing tattoo stories and offering advice on maximizing our sandwich loving experience.

I’ve been to The Grind a few times now, and am still trying to find the downside. I sometimes balk at how busy it is, but that should never be a deterrent for someone looking for great coffee on the go, or willing to share a table with a stranger. Go to The Grind. A lot, you’ll most likely fall in love.