A journey around the world? Sure – who wouldn’t? Every morning? Ermm, maybe not – but I would gladly have a specialty sandwich instead! For those of us who don’t get the chance to travel often, eating out in a multicultural hub like Chicago is the next best thing. We live in a city where virtual travel in a matter of minutes is possible thanks to an abundance of diverse dining spots, which feature a respect for ingrained cultural traditions coupled with a desire for thoughtful innovation. Such is Coffee Joint, the only Latvian coffee shop in Chicago, whose cosmopolitan interior design and delicious casual fare make up for an exciting breakfast or quick lunch destination. Readers, beware: pics of deliciousness to follow 😉
Tucked on a leafy section of Irving Park Rd, Coffee Joint is a hidden neighborhood gem. A local gathering was going on when we visited, and residents seemed to love this relatively new addition to the area – at least this is what I assumed upon seeing so many guests and so many happy faces 🙂
As we wandered through the metal doors, my husband and I encountered a tasteful combination of lights, colors and materials. Warm amber shades of distressed wood lived in harmony with black metal frames, while the natural light piercing through the big windows benefited from the addition of a discreet dose of artificial lighting, via the pendants hanging from the ceiling. The highlight for me, however, was the menu written down on snow white ceramic tiles, which truly was a work of artistry and wonder, beautifully complementing the hand painted murals throughout the shop. I’d never thought different fonts could go so well together:
The menu features a mix of hot and cold drinks, as well as sandwiches, pastries, and even a kids’ section. Drinks include classic offerings such as latte, cappuccino and mocha, and more enticing ones (if you have a sweet tooth like I do, lol) such as marshmallow latte, Vietnamese coffee and affogato. There is also a tea section, which I have yet to try. Meadow, Big Hibiscus, Jasmine Silver Tip – interesting names and varied options indeed.
Coffee Joint uses single origin beans from Metropolis Coffee Company to craft their beverages, and works with local suppliers such as West Town Bakery and pHlour Bakery to source the ingredients in their sandwiches as well as their pastry offerings. The bar is set high – after all, serving quality food and drinks to the neighborhood and beyond has always been the dream of Coffee Joint’s co-founders and brothers Andris and Gato Balodis, who grew up in Latvia. “I believe that if someone is going to drink coffee every day, he or she should drink nothing but the best quality. And that is what we try and achieve at Coffee Joint,” Andris Balodis shared. So refreshing to see a small family enterprise putting quality first!
The proof is in the sandwich – or coffee, of course! Behind the espresso machine is where the magic happens 🙂
While my husband opted for a classic cappuccino, I wanted to get something I hadn’t had in a long time, so I picked affogato.
As for sandwiches, I chose the Mozzarella & Basil variety (burrata, tomatoes, cream cheese, basil), while hubby said yes to Ham & Swiss (Black Forest ham, Wisconsin Swiss, white wine Dijon mustard).
Our sandwiches were made of fresh toasted multigrain bread and delicious melting cheese. I particularly enjoyed the texture of the bread, which exhibited the perfect balance between crunchy and chewy – a sign the owners do not cut corners when it comes to quality, and thus stay true to their values and vision. As for the drinks, the espresso shot in my affogato exhibited a super velvety crema, which was mixed with vanilla ice cream to create the ultimate afternoon indulgence.
The elegant interior design enhanced our enjoyment of the experience. Did I tell you how much I love the Coffee Joint murals and artsy menu?
Sitting inside Coffee Joint sipping on quality, ethically-sourced coffee and indulging in a decadent, ooey gooey burrata sandwich, life looked marvelous that Sunday afternoon. We would have stayed some more, but parent duty called. Be it sunny or rainy, spring or fall, I encourage you to stop by Coffee Joint, like we did, and to try one of their artisan creations. We will come back for sure – the magic and artistry of that place are too enchanting to ignore 🙂
*Disclaimer: While I received a complimentary tasting to facilitate this review, all opinions expressed here are my own.