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Food & Wine

The Best Coffee in Illinois

Food & Wine’s Best Coffee in Every State 2019

There are few roasters in this town capable of showcasing their own coffees quite so brilliantly—some of the most exciting moments from this year’s survey involved paper cups of batch-brewed black coffee, served at the pleasant-enough Big Shoulders shop on Lake Street with zero pleasantries whatsoever, cups of coffee that practically set our hair on fire with their precision. (2018’s Kenya Kirinyaga, you were particularly special.) In case you ever wondered, or if anyone ever asks you, where do you go in Chicago, for a really good, no-bull cup of coffee, look no further.



Burundi Buhorwa

No. 23 coffee on Coffee Review’s 2018 list

Elegant, bright, very sweetly pungent. Starfruit, frankincense, lime zest, roasted cacao nib, narcissus in aroma and cup. Richly sweet in structure with balanced, vivacious acidity. Delicate, silky mouthfeel. The floral-toned finish starts and ends with notes of narcissus, punctuated by starfruit, cacao nib and bittersweet citrus suggesting lime zest, all enveloped in perfumy aromatic wood redolent of frankincense.



Kenya Kirinyaga 


Intricately layered, deeply and sweetly pungent. Roasted cacao nib, lemon zest, lilac, candied ginger, frankincense in aroma and cup. Sweet-tart structure with bright, juicy acidity; full syrupy mouthfeel. The complex finish sustains all of the flavor notes from the cup, sweet flowers in particular.

The Bottom Line: A complex, richly layered, Juicy-sweet Kenya cup.

– Roast Magazine, July/August 2018

the 25 Best Coffee Roasters in America

An Expert's Guide

Big Shoulders’s appreciation and tenacious connection to farmers and flavor is an extension of its founder’s background. Tim Coonan’s résumé includes two Michelin-star restaurants, Chez Messonier L’Ermitage and Le St. Didier, but he grew up on a farm in Indiana. Sinnot said, “[Big Shoulders] eschews the hip pretension of many Third Wavers, and simply works to find the best coffees, continually producing bags you brew and wonder at their quality.”




Richly and deeply sweet. Baker’s chocolate, raisin, Brazil nut, magnolia, oak in aroma and cup. Roundly tart acidity; plump, syrupy mouthfeel. Richly drying, quietly nut-toned finish.

Who Should Drink It: Those looking for exceptional value in an accessible, impressively balanced, sweetly nut-toned Colombia.



It’s time you tasted a cup.

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