After a tough morning workout I sometimes have the desire for a really good cup of coffee. On this particular morning I ventured off to the Northwest side of Chicago to try a new-to-me coffee shop, there was no traffic and thankfully the shop was right near the gym I belong to.
After some easy driving, I ended up in what was practically Niles. It seemed odd that one would make this trip, but then again, promises of Paleo amenities are rare, and one that touts a latte made from single-origin coffee, butter and MCT oil (commonly referred to as a Bulletproof Coffee) is hard to contend with. I was almost there when my mouth began to salivate.
As I rounded the last corner before my destination, my hopes rose higher than the Fourth of July fireworks. “I’m here!” I declared. Well, instead of the superb sequence of booms, pops and flashes you’d expect, I got rained on.
The shop was defunct, closed, extinct. Just gone. What a let down.
I instantly looked for a replacement. After some excruciatingly difficult research on finding a place (ok, it’s not that hard, since smartphones are a fingertip away), one place in particular popped up front and center.
Hidden Treasure in Logan Square
From the Northwest side to the far east side of Logan Square (nicknamed Bucktown) I trekked. Upon arriving, I knew this place had the potential to be a gem.
Flocks of people were gathered there. At 8am. On Saturday.
And they didn’t stop coming. Being greeted by happy customers and the wonderful aroma of freshly ground coffee, I immediately felt uplifted and forgot all about my previously broken promise.
The time came to order. I was standing in front of a wooden counter that seemed more like found art, and aside from the iPad they use as a register, was mostly handmade.
The Staff Know What They’re Doing
The staff made me feel like I was on a vacation. Super friendly, knowledgeable and pure coffee aficionados. Tim was the name of the gentleman who took and made my first order and his recommendation was for their in-house roasted El Salvadoran.
The process was done right in front of me in a contraption called the Clever. It was like something out of a 1980’s science fiction book. Plastic, mechanical and automated.
It felt a bit contradictory that something “space-aged” was making something I felt should be “crafted.” He started by pre-warming this device with hot water, and alongside it, set a glass Mason jar with a hand-woven burlap sleeve. More contrast to this process.
He took a break to let me know that this batch, “was fresh roasted, two days ago.” All I knew was that my focus was like a child getting a first glimpse of the inside of a candy store when they’re first in line.
My First Taste
He passed me the finished product and a beautifully smooth aroma tickled my nose. It reminded me of a bowl of mocha oatmeal. I took my first sip, and was met with an introduction that started off a bit tart and then ran directly to some nice, mellow body tones. Normal for Latin American coffees.
Next up was something very different. I thought that this shop gave me a nice surprise with the Clever, but this next surprise was unreal.It was another single-origin from Panama in an Aeropress!
Allow me to explain. Many coffee shops/houses don’t believe in the Aeropress, but those who know coffee know that methods matter and these guys are pros with this process.
So what did I do? I begged them to make me something that they advised heavily against. As in don’t walk into that minefield, because… it’s a minefield, dummy.
I should have listened. The Panama had an overwhelmingly tart tunnel with a bitter body that had some serious bite.
The Aeroporess elevates many flavors, and in this case, it succeeded. It just enhanced the wrong ones, exponentially. No bueno.
After forcing that yuckiness down my pie-hole, I needed something that could make me smile again, and wash the nastiness off my taste buds.
Cuban Cigar in a Cup
I finished the excursion with an Italiano made of their in-house blend of Brazilian and Guatemalan. You can really smell the tobacco in this one. Damn near reminded me of a Cuban cigar. Do I smoke this bad boy or do I drink it?
Sip after sip, I enjoyed that quick visit to a warm and humid Central America. That flavor was followed by a rich, chocolatey finish. Like letting a 99% chocolate bar slowly melt any troubles you may have away.
Upon taking my last sip, I found the finish to be quite clean. Like a soft, rolling hill at the end of summer.
Ipsento is one of the spots to encounter true coffee people. They excel with common methods and some uncommon ones too. Give them a try and let us know what you think.
Paleo Friendly Restaurant: Ipsento (Chicago)
Restaurant: Ipsento Coffee Roasters
Location: 2035 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Restaurant Rating: 5 out of 5
Paleo Rating: 4 out of 5
Restaurant Rating: How good is it? On a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best I’ve ever had), how good is the restaurant, no matter if it’s paleo or not.
Paleo Rating: On a scale of 1-5 (5 being paleo perfection), how paleo is it? A 5 will have grass-fed and pasture raised meats, local, organic produce and no peanut oil in sight.