"Veni, vidi, venti."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Metropolis Coffee Company

Metropolis: 1039 West Granville Avenue, Chicago, IL 60660

Just as eels inexplicably and unavoidably always somehow manage to slither their way back to the Sargasso Sea, I feel myself magnetically compelled to return to Chicago in search of coffee. Chicago, this fearless bastion against Midwestern torpor, is still brimming with exotic and unique brews for every coffee lover to savor—and I intend to introduce them to you.

I apologize for my lapse in blog activity the last few months, but I was back at home in Wisconsin for the summer and the lack of diversity in coffee options quickly caused my writing motivation to dwindle. That fact, coupled with my first official foray into the humdrum beehive of Corporate America, was a swift buzzkill to my grandiose blog aspirations. This is not to say that my appetite for coffee has diminished. Rather, I shambled along from mediocre mug to mediocre thermos all summer, thereby making my hankering for a genuinely satisfying cup all the more formidable.

Now that I’m back in this Brewer’s Shangri-La, I have pledged to attack this search with renewed vigor. From the nooks to the crannies, I promise to look Chicago over from top to bottom in order to dredge up the best coffee this city has to offer. In the interest of wasting no time whatsoever, I’m plunging right back in to the Chicago Coffeehouse Circuit today with Metropolis Coffee Company.

Metropolis is conveniently wedged between Loyola University and the Granville stop on the Red Line, and only spitting distance from the tumultuous waters of Lake Michigan. Resembling either a squat bomb shelter or prison compound, the building utilizes black accoutrements to frame frost-glazed windows. An insidious red door stands out, beckoning visitors with promises of the comfort that lies within.

After crossing the threshold into the interior, my first impression is that the identity of Metropolis hinges delicately on its proximity to the nearby college. The almost matronly environment and neighborly feel of the place meshes well with its patrons—the collegiate hordes with Sunday morning circles under their eyes, Mocha-heads bopping to ipods, and graying baby boomers soundlessly reciting Ginsberg. Subtly playful, the rooms of Metropolis are arranged with coffee tables that look like they made it through ‘Nam, bookshelves stuffed with unheard of board games, and fluorescent canvases of menacing extraterrestrials. A song by The Smiths can be heard if you listen closely, accompanied by the percussive syncopation of coffee grinders. With several rooms of seating, Metropolis is obviously a coffeehouse that wants you to stay awhile.

Although it is adorned with the stereotypical college-town coffeehouse gizmos, a scan instantly reveals that their ideology about coffee is far from typical. With an impressive array of choices and diligent attention to detail from farm to roaster to cup, Metropolis is notorious for coaxing deliciousness from their beans.

Their special of the day is Ethiopian Sidamo, described as being “well known for earthy cocoa undertones and sweet and winey notes.” I go with a 16 ounce cup of the Sidamo (only $2.00! and only $1.00 for a refill!) and a cinnamon scone (again, only $1.99).

A cautious sip of the steaming brew yields a heavy dose of the described earthiness, but without descending to bitterness in the aftertaste. The flavor remains consistent throughout the cup, but I fail to notice any of the blueberry or winey flavors that are advertised. Although the taste is certainly splendid, the heavier roast of the beans may have obscured some of their complexity. Overall though, a very solid and satisfying cup. I’m glad I don’t go to Loyola because all of my hard-earned summer dollars would inevitably start piling up in Metropolis’s coffers.

If you ask me, Metropolis is just good enough to deserve their widespread comparisons to Intelligentsia. Their association with a more collegiate crowd, noticeable by the decorations of the place and the fantastic prices, distinguishes it from Intelligentsia’s more corporate focus. In my opinion, the debate for supremacy between Metropolis and Intelligentsia is certainly warranted; however, this member of the jury needs further evidence before he can hand down a final verdict.
Metropolis Coffee Company on Urbanspoon


  1. Speaking of over-the-summer coffee situations, I was in Chautauqua, NY and had to drive 90 minutes to get to a decent roaster in Rochester, NY (Spin Roasters--fortunately I needed to make the drive for other reasons. I became sort of a dealer for Ethiopian Yirgacheffe at Chautauqua...) Maybe one day a full geographic directory will be in order--is there currently a Zagat's for coffee?

  2. Very nice job Wyatt. This is my first time on your blog site and the breezy style and witty use of adjectives and adverbs that are less familiar - but oh, so appropriate is fun to read. I must admit (NO DISRESPECT intended - and none should be inferred) - but I just saw The Social Network movie and your wittertainment here reminded me so much of that movie. Of course the movie is written by Aaron Sorkin (Sports Night TV show; Few Good Men play and movie author) - so your banter is in great company. Keep up the good work - hope to see you back at ALS.