Overflow Coffee Bar
Though it’s been open for seven years, Overflow became one of a handful of Black-owned coffee shops in the city (along with a couple others featured here) when small business incubation nonprofit Entrenuity, founded by Austin resident L. Brian Jenkins, purchased the space from its original owners in January. Since taking over, new café manager Kari Pendleton—who also runs a line of baked goods that are sold in Overflow, and came to Entrenuity’s attention as an entrepreneur when she hosted a baking workshop for them while they were coincidentally in talks to purchase the shop—has focused on making the space more comfortable for its customers and employees while improving its coffee quality. Both the management team and Pendleton, a Chicago native who grew up and found her passion for coffee in Glasgow, Scotland, are acutely aware of the rapidly changing neighborhood that surrounds them—Overflow is just down the street from one of the proposed Amazon HQ2 sites. But the team has been working to learn the flavor of the neighborhood to better serve it, balancing local residents from the South Loop, Chinatown, and Bronzeville with commuters who work in the area. (Sam Stecklow)
Overflow Coffee Bar, 1550 S. State St. Monday–Saturday, 7am–8pm; Sunday, 8am–6pm. (312) 772-2356. overflowcoffeebar.org
Sam Stecklow is a managing editor of the Weekly and a journalist with the Invisible Institute. He last wrote for the Weekly profiling the city’s police accountability landscape in October.
The permits are approved and construction time is nigh for Bridgeport’s soon-to-be newest and southernmost coffee shop. The two couples behind Stockyard Coffeehouse had always talked about opening something in the neighborhood as a way of giving back to the community, Mayra Carranza told the Weekly. Since all four—Mayra, her husband Fernando Lopez, her sister Guadalupe Carranza, and her brother-in-law Fernando Gutierrez—have some experience in the coffee business, opening a coffee shop seemed like the most natural way to do that. When a storefront within a two-block radius of both of their homes opened up for lease last year, they jumped at the opportunity. On offer is standard café fare: coffee drinks made with Big Shoulders beans, pastries, and a small selection of sandwiches, all within a reasonable price range, Carranza said. The team is hopeful that the shop will be up and running sometime this summer—but they won’t announce an official opening date just yet, so stay tuned. But she did say the shop will be open early in the morning to accommodate work schedules and school day mornings, and that there will be seating for twenty. (Emeline Posner)
Stockyard Coffeehouse, 558 W. 37th St. Hours TBD. (312) 860-9327. facebook.com/stockyardcoffeehouse
Emeline Posner is the Weekly’s food & land editor and a freelance writer
Laine’s Bake Shop
“We’re doing a lot in this tiny space with just four of us,” Laine’s Bake Shop co-owner Rachel Bernier-Green said of her small bakery’s output as she prepared rum cakes to go out for distribution. Since opening in May 2016, the South Side cakemonger has inked deals placing its made-from-scratch goods in ten Chicago Starbucks locations and all Whole Foods stores in the Midwest region—all while based in a tiny Morgan Park storefront.
Now, armed with word-of-mouth support for its high-quality cakes and a grant from the city, Laine’s is set to leave its current digs this year for two more accommodating locations on the South Side: one a bakery café on 111th Street in Pullman, and the other a distribution-minded baking and production facility with a small storefront at 64th and Cottage Grove in Woodlawn, both of which will serve coffee roasted by Englewood’s Kusanya Cafe.
As an “artisanal bakeshop with a social mission,” Laine’s makes distinctive choices regarding its hires (the recently-incarcerated or homeless), its ingredients (sourced from companies with similar values), and its customer incentives (should regulars wish, they will have the ability to direct a percentage of the purchases they make to a local nonprofit of their choice). And don’t worry, fans of their now-closed Morgan Park location—they’ll be hosting pop-ups at both new locations all summer long until they open. (Sam Stecklow)
Laine’s Bake Shop, 756 E. 111th St. and 6437 S. Cottage Grove Ave., both opening this fall. (844) 352-4637. lainesbakeshop.com
Fresh, affordable, and consistent are the key words at Sputnik Coffee, the café and roastery that landed in New City in early April. When I walk into Sputnik on a Friday afternoon, brothers Vova and Greesha Kagan are behind the counter, together manning the till and roasting the last of the Columbia beans in the vintage roaster they picked up in Ohio last year. The four-person coffee team, which also includes friends Michael Roytman and Diarmuid Horan, has spent the last six months perfecting and distributing their blend: one that tastes good even if the water-to-coffee ratio is a bit off, and whether it’s brewed in a French press, coffee maker, or pour-over.
Their house blend—a rich and smooth medium-roast blend of Columbia, Brazil, and Sumatra beans—goes for $2 a cup. You can take home a half-pound bag of their beans for $6, which is very much a steal. At the front counter, they also offer sizeable breakfast bars ($3), croissants, brownies, and other assorted sweets (prices vary) from Delightful Pastries in Jefferson Park—though by the time I’d arrived, most had been snatched up by earlier customers. (And, while I was there, two customers stopped in for the second time that day, which is a sure sign that the coffeeshop is hitting the right notes.) Sputnik may eventually offer a couple simple sandwiches, Vova tells me, but they don’t want to cut into other local businesses’ markets. If someone asks for meal suggestions, they’ll send them one block west to the panadería, or to one of the several groceries and taco joints on 51st or 47th.
It’s hard to miss Sputnik: a sign bearing their logo—Belka and Strelka, the first dogs to go into orbit and return alive, in front of a Chicago-flag emblazoned rocket ship—hangs in the window facing out over Hoyne. But just in case you miss the sign, the Sputnik team has helpfully set up a sign on the sidewalk that reads CAFÉ and points you toward the door. (Emeline Posner)
Sputnik Coffee, 2057 W. 51st St. Monday, 6am–5pm; Tuesday–Friday, Sunday, 6am–6pm; Saturday, 7am–6pm. (847) 668-5575. sputnikroasters.com
Build Coffee is, without a doubt, the best thing to happen to the Weekly in the last year. Beyond keeping us caffeinated through long nights when putting our issues together, the coffee shop mere steps (as in, like, two) from our newsroom offers a quality of camaraderie, aesthetics, and coffee that outranks everything in its immediate vicinity, and potentially the city. Headed by two beloved former Weekly editors, Build is always uncannily full of friendly faces—volunteers at Blackstone Bikes, parents and students of nearby Carnegie Elementary, Weekly editors. As the Chicago summer heats up, be sure to visit to pick up an iced café de olla with oat milk and/or a cinnamon bun the size of your head. (Sam Stecklow)
Build Coffee, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave. Monday–Friday, 8am–5:30pm; Saturday and Sunday, 9am–5:30pm. (773) 627-5058. buildcoffee.com
South Shore residents and career educators Jennifer and Cory Barnes see the opening of South Shore Brew, their forthcoming neighborhood café at 71st and Bennett, as “[solving] a problem:” youth unemployment in the area. Initially, they’ve committed to hiring exclusively seventeen to twenty-four-year-olds who are currently attending or have graduated South Shore International College Prep, establishing a pipeline from the school to their shop. The decision also leverages connections they have to nonprofits, businesses, and fraternities to improve the lives of the young people they hire—as well as their patrons. With the goal of reflecting its home neighborhood in all aspects of its existence (under the slogan “Coffee + Pride”), the coffee shop will feature artwork from South Shore high school students and offer sandwiches and other food with “culturally relevant” ingredients, in addition to local Metropolis coffee. (Sam Stecklow)
South Shore Brew, 1851 E. 71st St. Opens this summer. Hours TBD.