DIRTY BLACK WATER
The common denominator amongst all great minds is not inspiration, leadership, poise, perspiration or viral infamy. It’s caffeine. And so, with my position as an editor at a storied and award-winning publication, I give you tips, not to further your insight into the ingenuity of the human condition, but to further your (and my) crippling addiction to the wealth of coffee options in and around the Loop. With wide eyes and unshakable tremors, bottoms up.
1.) Starbucks ($$$). It’s sad but true: Starbucks has been and will likely continue to be the standard by which the general population feeds their morning habit.
PROS: Customizable in almost every respect; general wealth of menu variety; ubiquitous in any urban and suburban area.
CONS: Espresso is always burnt-tasting, coffee is always weak. Sbux coffee is a lot like the gentrified neighborhoods it thrives in. Easily digested, causes irritable bowels, and ultimately falls flat of its suggested cultural impact.
2.) Dunkin Donuts ($$). Coffee and donuts — who woulda thunk it?
PROS: Distinctly East Coast/Midwestern. Stick it to those stuck-up West Coasters with a nice orange-and-purple color theme.
CONS: DD employees always seem short of people skills and their coffee tastes more like their donuts than their donuts do. Do yourself a favor and go through the cream/sugar ritual on your own.
3.) 7-Eleven ($). Originally the only option for bleary-eyed truckers mid-haul, 7-Eleven upholds the tradition of cheap and simple roadside coffee.
PROS: An excellent one-stop shopping trip for smokers/gum chewers/nacho fiends. Also, bonus points for limited edition Captain America/WWE/Dreamworks movie cups.
CONS: How long have those pots been on the burners? If you’ve ever gone through the nightmarish acid trip induced by too much thick, burnt diner coffee, you’ll reconsider this option.
4.) Cosi ($$). As my fellow editor Ania Szremski has stated, SAIC students keep this place in business, if only out of desperation to break free of the art school diet (cigarettes and pretense).
PROS: It’s next door.
CONS: The coffee is mediocre at best, and standing in line at Cosi means dodging clueless tourists and tweens. If you’ve got the time to wait for the incredibly slow and cramped elevators in Maclean, you’ve got time to go somewhere else.
5.) McDonald’s ($). That place you go to for the all-American staple of faux-nutrition from an ill-natured corporation. Little known fact: McD’s only puts items on their menus that are specifically engineered to be eaten with one hand, so you can stuff your face while driving, or chain-smoking your American Spirits (see “art school diet”).
PROS: The best deal, bar none — McD’s coffee is $1, regardless of size, and it’s not as bad on the palette as old lawsuits may lead you to think.
CONS: In this age of organic/local/morality-centric diets, being sighted at a McDonald’s is akin to shooting a puppy in your front yard execution-style: shameful, embarrassing and messy.
6.) Intelligentsia ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$). Steeped in technical jargon regarding the proper way to lose friends by “informing” them how to correctly brew coffee, Intelligentsia does know how to brew a classy cup of joe.
PROS: After one sip, you feel like you can see forever. But be careful: too many visits and you’ll suddenly find yourself wearing skinny jeans and wagging your finger pretentiously at the Mr. Coffee’s lined up downstairs at Macy’s.
CONS: You have to save up for these little cups of joy — $3 will buy you a small drip-brewed coffee, and that adds up quickly. Do what I do and keep an old cup nonchalantly by your workstation to milk its cultural value — “Oh, you’ve never been to Intelligentsia?”