The days are getting shorter and the darkness has descended over more of the morning hours. Need a little pick-me-up on the way to work – or on the way home? Here are three coffee shops that can’t wait to help you get your caffeine fix, no matter the time of day.
Swings Coffee, 501 E. Monroe Ave.
Is it possible to sport an industrial look with a cozy ambiance? If so – or even if not – Swings has both sides of the coin covered in spades. The large roastery on Mount Vernon Avenue could easily look like a hulking cavernous space, but instead, Swings makes it feel like a place one could spend a day working, studying, or chatting without breaking stride.
Swings takes its coffee seriously, and you’d be wise to do so too. Try one of the multitude of pour-over varieties, ranging from a full-bodied Sumatra to a sweeter Java Honey, or go for the iced route with an iced or nitro-iced coffee. (If they’re serving a bourbon-barrel style? Go for it.) Can’t get enough coffee? Take a spin through its Coffee Cupping at 10 a.m. on Fridays, where visitors can venture into the roastery’s “coffee lab” and taste-test new coffees, specialty limited-edition varieties, and more.
Misha’s, 102 S. Patrick St.
For years, Misha’s has been a beacon in the night – or morning – in Old Town, and for good reason. Walk anywhere near the shop and you’ll find yourself awash in the welcoming aroma of roasting coffee, but don’t stop at the doorway – enter the belly of the beast and come back out caffeinated and happy.
Misha’s offers a plethora of blends and varietals to enjoy by the cup; taste-test to find the one you like, and then take home a bag of it. A popular blend is its Route 66, the French roasted beans are full-bodied but accessible. Or travel the globe with any of its African, Indonesian or American varietals, either to sip in-house or take back to your own coffee-brewing setup. And don’t skimp on the pastries – more than simple window-dressing, they are the real deal and pair very nicely with whatever brew you choose.
Killer ESP, 1012 King St.
At first blush, it might seem a bit odd to have two coffee shops around the corner from one another, but Killer ESP doesn’t seem to be hurting – and neither does Misha’s. Rather, the two offer discrete enough selections that it’s easy to see how they’ve both managed their close relationship perfectly well.
Venture into the shop and you’re first greeted with a welcome sweet sight – a gelato counter. Don’t think this is a hasty addition to Killer ESP’s offerings – after all, the shop’s initials stand for “Espresso, Sorbet, and Pie.” You’ll find the pie behind the counter as well, in both sweet and savory varieties from DC’s Dangerously Delicious Pies. And as far as the espresso, well, Killer ESP wins the frequent-flier award with its connection to Portland, Oregon’s Stumptown Coffee. Enjoy a multitude of varieties of the espresso, sorbet or pie – or live dangerously and have a tasting of each component. Life’s short, after all.
Hope Nelson owns and operates the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at email@example.com.