"Veni, vidi, venti."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dollop Coffee Co

4181 North Clarendon Avenue, Chicago, IL 60613

After taking last weekend off from blogging, I was itching to run into the city and gulp down as much delicious coffee as humanly possible. On the other hand, after an excruciating week of midterm exams, I also wanted to go to a place that was a little more low-key. Some soft music, low lights, comfy chairs, and hot drinks would be perfect Caffeine Therapy for this fatigued college student. After scanning through my list of possibilities and taking these relaxation urges into consideration, I decided to pop in to Dollop Coffee Co for my Sunday brew.

Dollop can be found a bit off the beaten track after walking through a couple quiet, almost suburban-esque neighborhoods from the Red Line’s Sheridan stop. Once we’re in the surrounding environs though, it isn’t tough to figure out which building is home to this coffeeshop. Dollop has secured a prime piece of real estate, inhabiting a very handsome brick building on one corner of the intersection of Clarendon and Gordon streets. The artsy sign, ragtag collection of bikes tied out front, and gathering of strange cactus-like plants visible through the windows tie the outside together nicely.

The interior of Dollop instantly establishes its sense of coziness—exactly what I was hoping for. The first thing I see upon entering is a vintage Pacman game which looks like it has gobbled its fair share of cherries. I’m tempted to play, but have no quarters. Similar priceless artifacts are strewn haphazardly throughout Dollop in a way that works surprisingly well. Giant cylinders of loose-leaf tea stand sentry atop a display case. Fabulous antique furniture pieces, such as a mosaic-tiled bureau and scores of simple wooden tables and Victorian lamps, are arranged from wall to wall. Christmas lights criss-cross overhead. Off to one side is an adjoining room that looks as though it would make the ideal study enclave. All of this controlled chaos is given a sense of continuity by the fantastic brick walls that seem almost anachronistic.

A sign behind the counter advertises that Dollop serves Metropolis coffee, which is just fine with me. The barista presents me with two choices of coffee, mild and dark roast. Wanna guess which one I went with? A big, bold mug of dark roast, of course—they don’t call me the Coffee Tyrant for nothing! My coffee is instantly presented to me, along with a banana nut muffin, which looks promising.

The muffin is a surprisingly delicious miasma of sugar and pecans, much tastier than average. The coffee has the intense, satisfying roast that I’ve come to expect from Metropolis. Powerful enough to wake up my taste buds, yet smooth enough to not be offensive, the coffee has an almost nurturing effect. I instantly am able to relax and sink into the deep calm that Dollop strives to evoke. Mission accomplished.

Simultaneously reminiscent of both a hippie’s decked out lair and a retired librarian’s attic, Dollop Coffee Co may be the single most relaxing coffeeshop I’ve ever visited. This seems like the perfect place to peacefully read a novel or gather one’s wits on a quiet Sunday morning. As I leave Dollop, I’m in a markedly more mellow mood. On my way out the door, I notice that a Bob Dylan song is playing. I don’t know how, but his voice sounds almost syrupy.
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