The Best Coffee Shops And Cafes In Chicago
Great cafes with wifi where you can drink coffee and get work done.
Whether you work remotely, need a weekend to catch up on emails, or got banned from your coworking space after the staff discovered you’d been stealing the kitchen hot sauce for the last six months—sometimes you need a coffee shop where you can get some work done. One with WiFi, outlets, and maybe even some snacks, because you can’t do anything without snacks. Here are 29 great coffee shops where you can actually get some work done.
If you’re motivated by being in the company of people who are being very productive, try working at Ellipsis in Edgewater. Its proximity to Loyola University means that it’s common to find students studying, working on group projects, and breaking the record for most words typed per minute. They have some great pastries and bagels from Edgewater bakery, Edge of Sweetness, as well as giant cookies from Bake Me Wild.
photo credit: Derrick Koch
It’s not the largest spot on this list, but Vietfive in the West Loop is one of our favorite places to sit with our laptops for a few hours. This little Vietnamese coffee shop is light and bright, has an energetic hip hop playlist, and friendly baristas. They also have a smooshy couch for chilling, and about five round tables that are the perfect size for holding your computer, snacks, multiple drinks, and soon-to-be-realized dreams of becoming a published author. Their coffee is smooth and drinkable, made with beans imported from Vietnam, brewed using a phin, and then mixed with your choice of condensed milk, coconut milk, or almond milk. Plus, you can eat tasty things like bánh mì empanadas, bánh patê sô, and vegan soft serve.
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This casual Croatian cafe has become our favorite place to get some work done in River North. It’s not just because Doma is quiet, has strong WiFi, a cute side patio, and a soothing Scandinavian furniture store aesthetic (the vintage chairs are for sale, too). No, it’s also because the food is excellent. It’s open for breakfast and lunch, and the menu has dishes like a must-order ćevapi wrapped in fluffy flatbread with clotted cream and a roasted pepper spread, a spicy breakfast sandwich, tasty soups, and pastries. All of which are likely to distract you from whatever reports you’re supposed to be typing on your laptop.
Sol Cafe’s great food, good coffee, and plenty of seating means that you can grab breakfast before addressing those 81 unread emails that you ignored on vacation. This bright and plant-filled Rogers Park spot has dishes like biscuits and gravy or grain bowls, as well as a delicious sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich that made it onto our breakfast sandwich guide.
photo credit: Derrick Koch
With plenty of tables, outlets, and a fairly quiet atmosphere, Pedestrian Coffee in Lakeview is fully equipped for getting sh*t done. Their long tables provide enough space for groups to spread out, while smaller ones are perfect for solo work when you realize your couch isn’t ideal for productivity. They have some pastries to snack on, but their location is also so close to spots like Taipei Cafe, Zaza’s Pizzeria, and Bop N Grill.
We’re big fans of Hexe, a large, industrial-feeling coffee shop located in a section of Roscoe Village. There’s nothing this place doesn’t do well—along with great coffee and a ton of space to work, Hexe also has outstanding pastries, friendly staff, a fantastic patio, and serves alcohol. Come for work during the day, then stay and meet friends here for drinks at night. Honestly, you might as well sleep here while you’re at it.
Afro Joe’s Coffee & Tea
If you’re looking for a new coffee shop where you can finish your thesis and listen to some live music, Afro Joe’s in Beverly has you covered. Along with coffee drinks, they also have pastries and breakfast sandwiches, as well as soups, salads, and wraps. And they frequently host events—whether music, poetry slams, or an open mic night—after the coffee shop closes.
If you’ve ever spent time in a coffee shop on a college campus, Cafe 53 in Hyde Park will seem very familiar—we get the feeling that everyone here frequently ruins family get-togethers by incessantly quoting Nietzsche. The interior feels comfortable and lived in, and there are plenty of tables for you to get some work done - as long as you avoid getting into any productivity-derailing debates about the existence of God.
You’ve secretly wanted a cozy recliner, but invested in a responsible ergonomic swivel chair instead. For a change of pace, head over to Froth. This coffee shop in the West Loop (like a lot of spots that opened in 2020) seemingly appeared out of nowhere. But we’re very glad it did because it’s not super crowded, and full of soft chairs and couches that makes it perfect to settle in, relax, and get some work done. Plus, there’s a food menu of sandwiches and salads, as well as a large outdoor patio.
When you just need a comfortable place to work for a few hours, go yo Kusanya in Englewood. This place wants you to sit and stay awhile—it literally says so on its website. It’s a pretty standard cafe set-up, with lots of little tables and WiFi, and all the food costs $2-$5—dishes like baked oatmeal, grits (you choose either sweet or savory), and the Tuna Turner sandwich, which is just fun to say. And if you do end up staying all day, they frequently host community events (like poetry and author readings) in the evening.
Plein Air Cafe & Eatery
This Hyde Park cafe is light, airy, and located right on campus in a building with a university bookstore. Plein Air is perfect if you need to do anything remotely school-related, and also want the option to eat some very good tartines, salads, and grain bowls at the same time. It’s always busy, but never too crowded to get a seat with an outlet, and the food is way better than your go-to spot with a display case full of cake pops and egg white sandwiches.
3 Arts Club Cafe
Is this technically a coffee shop? No, it’s more of an all-day restaurant attached to a Restoration Hardware in the Gold Coast. In fact, it’s more of a tree-filled biodome large enough to have its own ecosystem. Three Arts Club Cafe is so spacious it’ll feel like you’re working outside, but it’s a great temperature-controlled place to get some work done while being surrounded by foliage and expensive furniture.
Edie’s All Day Cafe
This large cafe in River North serves coffee, food, booze, and is designed to be a place for people to hang out, eat, and work. The comfortable space has tons of seating, lots of natural light, and enough hanging plants to oxygenate the entire neighborhood. So if you’re tired of trying to concentrate while your roommate does burpees in the living room, consider coming here instead.
photo credit: Sweet Bean
Sweet Bean is a laid-back Taiwanese and Japanese cafe in the South Loop with lots of tables and great snacks. The focus here is on coffee and pastries (like egg tarts and sesame balls), but they also have a long list of tea lattes and fruit teas. And while studies have shown that nothing helps productivity like pineapple buns, Sweet Bean also has savory options like soup dumplings and breakfast sandwiches, too.
This coffee shop doubles as a bookstore, one of those ancient places that existed back before we got our Cheeto prints all over Kindle screens instead of actual books. Build Coffee is located in the Experimental Station on the South Side, and being here feels a lot like working in your living room, but with better coffee and fewer cats trying to lay on your laptop. Come for lattes and WiFi, and stay to finally finish reading that used copy of On The Road.
Andersonville is a pretty neighborhood with cute boutiques where people always seem to be shopping in the middle of the day. While these people apparently have no bosses to report to, you might. And if that’s the case, you need to know about La Colombe. This coffee shop has no distractions, and plenty of tables meant for individuals. In other words, its sole purpose seems to be helping people get work done. Just know they turn the WiFi off on Saturdays and Sundays (but you shouldn’t be working on the weekend, anyway).
photo credit: Derrick Koch
Not only does Heritage Bicycles serve excellent coffee in a sunlit space, but they’ll also fix your bicycle or custom-make you a new one. (We don’t know how long it takes to make a bike, but you can probably finish at least one chapter of your autobiography while you’re waiting.) Even if you don’t need their bicycle services, you can still come here and get some work done at the large communal table in the middle of the coffee shop, or at the counter by the window.
The Intelligentsia in Lakeview is very busy, so getting a seat can be tricky. But if you’ve been working from home and haven’t talked to a real person in three weeks, it’s worth a try. Snag a spot at one of the large back tables and you won’t feel claustrophobic, even when the cafe is full of people. It’s a gentle way to ease back into human interaction.
Caffe Streets is a modern cafe in Wicker Park that doesn’t let you get too comfortable, which we actually find helpful at times. There are no big couches or distracting pieces of art on the walls - it’s sleek and minimal, making it good for staying focused and accomplishing things. Like finally reading The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People a couple decades late.
The Coffee Studio
The Coffee Studio isn’t as tiny as the studio apartment you lived in when you first moved to the city, but it’s still pretty small. That makes it cozy - it has the feel of a shared workspace, with brick walls, wooden tables, and a couple of plants to lighten the mood. There’s no shortage of coffee, food, or outlets, either.
Cafe Jumping Bean
Cafe Jumping Bean is a neighborhood institution that’s been around since 1994. It’s colorful, with lots of local artwork, and is always a popular spot for coffee, pastries, and sandwiches. Come here to study, or finish that soul-sucking spreadsheet in a bright space that will cheer you up. And after you do, try their Mexican hot chocolate and a mollete topped with refried beans, cheese, salsa, and avocado to celebrate.
Sawada is a coffee shop that’s attached to Green Street Smoked Meats. This means you can take a BBQ break for lunch, and even use the picnic benches and stadium seating in the back of Green Street to do work early in the day. Before you come here, just decide whether or not eating BBQ will ultimately help your productivity.
Gaslight Coffee Roasters
If quality food is as much on your mind as a cup of coffee and all the TPS reports you need to finish, then head over to Gaslight in Logan Square. This place has a full food menu (with omelettes, sandwiches, and pastries), so you can take a break and have a real meal. The large space is comfortable enough that you can easily spend a whole day here, too.
photo credit: Derrick Koch
Osmium Coffee Bar
Osmium is one of the spots owned by Dark Matter Coffee, a local coffee company that roasts its own beans. Inside, this cafe has a number of tables along one side and a coffee bar on the other, adding up to plenty of space for working. There’s also a patio outside, but you’ll probably want to sit indoors where you can gaze at the artwork on the wall and wonder to yourself whether Salvador Dali painted it in a little-known steampunk phase.
The Wormhole Coffee
The Wormhole has a DeLorean time machine (a.k.a. the car/time travel device from Back to the Future) hanging from its ceiling, and that’s reason enough for us to come here. The whole theme of this place is, fittingly, “back in time and stuff,” which makes you feel like you’re sitting in your bedroom at your parents’ house doing fifth grade homework. Way better than sitting in a tiny cubicle writing up your expenses, right?
Two Zero Three
If you’re working in the Loop, this is where you want to be. Two Zero Three is the coffee shop at the ground level of the Virgin Hotel, and it doesn’t have the same sceney-ness as the other hotel restaurants. The space has a mixture of couches, counter seating, and tables that make it easy to work. At night, it turns into a wine bar, so have some friends meet you when you’ve finally finished overthinking that email to your boss.
If Randolph Street is Restaurant Row, then this stretch of Milwaukee Ave. is the Coffee Canopy. Just north of Caffe Streets and The Wormhole, you’ll find Brü. Not only is it a great place to get some work done, but there’s a separate shared work space, too. It’s basically the coffee house equivalent of a WeWork, but free and with events like art classes and movie nights.
Dollop Coffee & Tea
Dollop is our go-to coffee shop when we need to get work done in Streeterville. There are plenty of places to sit, and floor-to-ceiling windows that make the space bright and allow a nice view of the neighborhood. Grab a donut or pastry while you’re there.
Cafe Mustache is a Logan Square spot for people who need a funky place to sit and do things. There are plenty of mismatched tables and chairs, plus more than a few pieces of mustache artwork. Just know that the WiFi is turned off at 6pm, when this place becomes more of a local bar than a coffee shop.