The Best Coffee Shops for Working Remotely in Chicago
For when you absolutely, positively need to be productive (and caffeinated).
As more and more employers continue their remote work policies, making it safer and more convenient to show up at the (virtual) office during the ongoing pandemic, those of us fortunate enough to be able to work from home are faced with one key decision every morning: Do we dare venture out to a wonderfully cozy coffee shop, knowing full well that it will require us to put on shoes and Real Pants, or do we keep our camera off all day, praying the nobody notices we’ve been wearing the same ratty bathrobe for last 17-odd months?
For the heroes who choose to attack the workday wearing actual clothes, we have your back. We recognize your sacrifice, and to honor it, we present the best coffee shops in the city for working remotely. Go forth and produce.
Bronzeville, Hyde Park, & Rosenwald
Though Sip & Savor maintains locations in Bronzeville, Hyde Park, and Rosenwald, a hyperlocal mindset shines through at each. The shop partners with area bakeries to stock a selection of mouth-watering pastries, and fosters a welcoming and comforting vibe. Grab a cuppa, log onto the complimentary WiFi, and stake out a coveted spot on the couch.
Build Coffee is a dream come true for anyone literary-minded. The combination coffee shop and bookstore is located inside Experimental Station, and the walls are lined with a variety of reading material from hardcover tomes to independent zines published by college students. It’s an ideal space to work, unwind with a good novel, organize a game night, or even host a gallery show.
Yes, it’s admittedly witchy—but the hip punky vibes at Hexe Coffee go well beyond skin-deep. They roast and barrel-age their beans in-house, resulting in exquisite flavors, and offer a roster of cocktails, sandwiches, and pastries, as well. Either work inside surrounded by wonderfully dark decor and artwork, or enjoy the great outdoors at one of their many patio tables. Regardless, make sure to grab a bag of Hexe coffee to-go before you jet.
As the name implies, Botanical Cafe is packed floor-to-ceiling with all things flora—a huge plus for Chicago’s working stiffs, given the fact that plants are shown to help with focus and mood. Huge monstera leaves and palms provide the backdrop for your coffee experience, notable in itself thanks to a rotating menu highlighting seasonal flavors and ingredients. As an added bonus, all the plants are for sale (with the exception of their plant-mascot, Fred), so you can keep the productivity party going long after closing time.
Iconic roastery Dark Matter has opened many coffee bars around the city, but Osmium is a favorite not just because it has two (TWO!) different nitro coffee drafts on tap at any given time, but also because of its markedly eclectic design. The low lighting and trippy illustrations of drippy pipes and eyeballs create an oddly romantic vibe, perfect for fueling a few hours of creative practice.
Fans of Twin Peaks will love Damn Fine’s Black Lodge-inspired black-and-white motif and plethora of fan art, but you don’t have to love David Lynch to get down on the coffee here, which indeed lives up to the billing. Sip on an exquisitely pulled espresso from Damn Fine’s roasting partners over at Halfwit, grab a donut from Do-Rite, and get to work solving the mystery of Laura Palmer’s murder.
There’s something special about this unassuming corner shop—from the moment you step in, it’s like entering a favorite aunt’s living room. The interior is peppered with plants, multicolored lights, and plush antique couches, making it an ideal daytime hangout. Red Eyes serves pastries, sandwiches, and ice cream, plus the Wi-Fi is free, turning into a popular remote work spot in the neighborhood. The drinks are no slouch either—Red Eyes serves some of the best lattes in all of Chicago.
Wicker Park & Logan Square
As good as the coffee drinks are at both Wormhole locations, they’re not the main draw (though you should absolutely order the Peanut Butter Koopa Troopa). The real reason folks flock here is to kick back with a latte in a space modeled off of the rec room you’ve always wished you had. The seating at the flagship Wicker Park location, though limited, is plush and comfy, and nestled beneath the shop’s iconic ceiling-suspended DeLorean is an old TV sporting an original NES plus a selection of games lest you need a quick work break. The newer location in Logan Square is a bit more spacious, while both feature a lively atmosphere that is oddly conducive to getting things done.
Heritage Outpost readily admits that their bike-shop-slash-coffee-shop concept doesn’t make as much sense as, say, a combination Pizza Hut-Taco Bell. But once you head in, everything starts to click into place. Relaxing with a mug of coffee or hot tea while watching repair technicians expertly tune up an old bike is incredibly satisfying.
We know, we know—it was no less than heartbreaking when Wrigleyville standby Pick Me Up Cafe moved north to Ravenswood and changed their hours, no longer offering their signature 24-hour service. But the joint still offers some of the city’s best vegan fare, as well as a host of coffee and milkshake options to kick start any work project. For those particularly brutal Chicago mornings, we recommend the Zombie, an eye-popping drink made with three shots of espresso, two cups of coffee, steamed milk, and a massive dollop of whipped cream, all drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce.
Avondale & Edgewater
Metropolis is a Third Wave mainstay across the country, known for exporting amazing beans across the United States and Canada. And, lucky for us, their headquarters is located right here in the Second City. Though the original Edgewater cafe is a magnet for laptop-toting northsiders, serious coffee aficionados should head to the Avondale roastery stashed alongside the Chicago River for a hands-on peek behind the scenes.
Star Lounge might not be as well-trodden as some of Dark Matter’s other outposts, but overlook it at your own peril. The first floor is home to a repurposed bar slinging a variety of inspired coffee creations canned, on tap, and on nitro, while the back garden’s breezy, graffiti-strewn oasis beckons cold brew-lovers outside. Every corner of the space invites you to post up, crack open your computer, and finally finish that screenplay.
While Wicker Park is loaded with both amazing coffee shops and wonderful bookstores, Volumes Bookcafe is the only spot in the area that effortlessly marries the two. Come for the espresso, stay because you’ve immersed yourself in a great book at the recommendation of the kind and knowledgeable staff.
Looking for a decent cup of coffee but already 15 minutes late to your weekly Slack check-in? Skip Starbucks and pop into the nearest La Colombe location instead. The aesthetic is straight out of a Pinterest board, with accents of black paint and blonde wood, plentiful built-in seating, and a bright, open, and inviting atmosphere perfect for getting stuff done. And don’t sleep on the draft lattes.