Sunday, November 14, 2010
Bridgeport Coffee Company
3101 South Morgan Street, Chicago, IL 60608
This past weekend was parents’ weekend at Northwestern, and my parents were in town. As the saying goes, the coffee bean doesn’t fall far from the tree—my parents are both almost as into coffee as I am. Wanting to show them some of the best brews I’ve discovered over the last few months, I offered to take them to a few of my favorite coffee shops. However, my dad insisted that they accompany me on a typical coffeehouse investigation as I try another new place. He also suggested we go to somewhere that is more off the beaten path, or harder to access by public transportation from Northwestern’s campus. With these suggestions in mind, I recommended we try Bridgeport Coffee Company.
I almost forgot how nice it is to travel by car. Although the ride was probably a little less interesting than it would have been on the L, it was definitely much more convenient. We cruise right up to Bridgeport Coffee’s location on the corner of 31st and Morgan and slip into a spot across the street.
Historically an Irish working class neighborhood and later dubbed Lithuanian Downtown, the Bridgeport district is eclectic in its diversity. In addition, this is yet another example of a coffeehouse in a corner lot. Like the bars in my Wisconsin hometown, it seems like a lot of these Chicago neighborhoods have their favorite coffee shops that everyone in the area visits regularly.
Once inside, I notice that both the neighborly feel and diversity of Bridgeport are echoed in the café's patrons. Throughout our stay, we see cute old Russian ladies that can’t be much taller than 4’10”, a suave Italian man in a trench coat and silk scarf, and a pair of bearded factory workers belligerently discussing the plight of the proletariat. However, the cozy feel of Bridgeport Coffee manages to make this strange cast of characters seem perfectly logical. Adding further to the friendly atmosphere, jars of various loose leaf teas are stacked with care on shelves behind the front counter, and the wifi password is offered freely on the wall, removing the need to awkwardly ask a barista for it.
Our tummies are rumbling after the long-ish drive to the south side, so the pastry display is a welcome sight. I order an extremely fresh and crumbly blueberry muffin, while Dad goes with a cream cheese Danish and Mom goes with a glazed apple fritter.
Bridgeport proudly roasts all of their beans in their warehouse down the street on Mondays and Tuesdays before shipping them to their coffeehouse. Their coffee of the day is the extremely popular Ethiopian Sidamo, which seems to be on everyone’s menus lately. A sign on the counter curiously warns that the Sidamo has flavor that is “too big for the average coffee drinker.” However, as most of you reading this know by now, I am not the average coffee drinker—I fearlessly order a large, steaming mug.
Perhaps I’ve become desensitized to hyper-intense coffee or something, but I’m not bowled over by the flavor of the Sidamo like I’m expecting. In fact, I’m actually left wishing it was stronger. However, the flavor is very satisfying, with an even roast and a smooth finish. Bridgeport’s coffee is perfect for patiently sipping on a cold fall morning and even better when paired with the flakiness of their variety of pastries.
As for me, Bridgeport Coffee passes the test—I certainly understand the neighborhood pride that keeps everyone in the area coming back time and time again. However, this adventure was all about trying to show my parents a good time. They were fascinated by the diverse history of Bridgeport and how it was reflected in the coffeehouse and in the coffee itself. Most importantly, as we were leaving my mom remarked, “The bathrooms were even interesting…just delightful!” And that, my friends, is the best compliment a mother can give.