I meant it when I said in this post that I want to focus more on things that bring me joy this year.
It’s no secret that I have had a bit of trouble nailing down what exactly that means for me. I have had some hits and misses in the process of trying to figure it out. I find happiness through adventure in the form of things like skydiving, scuba diving, and travel, but not so much in the form of reliving old passions that I have clearly outgrown.
The problem with these activities, is that they are not exactly things that I can realistically implement into my day-to-day life. I am probably not going to go for a quick 60 foot dive in Lake Michigan every day after work to shake off the stress of a long day.
I decided it was in my best interest to change tactics, and start small. I asked myself,
What is something simple that you actually enjoy doing and can do consistently?
It is such an innocent question, but I still find myself having difficulty answering questions like this, which tends to happen when you become out of touch with yourself over the years. After thinking about it for a bit, I came up with two things.
Anyone that knows me at all will not be surprised to find that the first thing that popped into my mind was, drinking coffee. The second, having a good beer.
Lucky for me, Chicago is bursting with endless amounts of craft breweries and local coffee shops that I have never tried. My goal is to try a new local brewery and coffee shop once or twice a month.
This is the perfect excuse to make an effort to spend time doing something that I actually enjoy, while simultaneously forcing me to get out of the familiarity and routine of frequenting all the same places.
The best part, is that I am doing it simply because I love a good coffee and a refreshing beer (but preferably not at the same time).
So without further ado, the first installment of Coffee & Crafts:
Where is it?: 1447 N Sedgwick St, Chicago, IL 60610
Eva’s cafe is a small, local coffee shop located in Old Town. I have to admit, that I have been in this area countless of times, have dined right next to Eva’s, and never once gave it a second glance. Had I not been on the hunt for a new coffee place to try, I would have never thought to step foot inside.
I could tell right when I walked in that this is a spot where the locals in the neighborhood go. It was extremely quiet, yet full of people with work stations set up who clearly had been there all morning, with no plans to leave any time soon. It was full of mismatched furniture, comfy armchairs, a fire place, and a few big shared-space work tables in the back. It had the feel of a library mixed with the personal living room of a college professor (the movie kind. I have no idea what an actual college professor’s living rooms look like).
What I ordered: House brew and a mocha
What I liked: Their house coffee was delicious. It was smooth and light, which is exactly what I wanted. The mocha was one of the best I had ever had. It had just the right ratio of milk to chocolate and coffee. I am usually disappointed when I order a mocha that is overpowered with the taste of chocolate, so I was extremely pleased with how delicious this mocha turned out. Plus, it had a fancy decoration on the top which always impresses me.
What I didn’t like: That whole library/college professor vibe to the place wasn’t for me. It felt slightly cold and uninviting while we were there. My distaste for the ambiance could have been because the only two seats available to enjoy our coffees were in the back at one of the shared tables, meaning we were sitting with strangers. Call me an anti-social introvert if you will, but I prefer to enjoy my coffee in the company of myself, or of people I know. I felt like we weren’t able to fully relax in the environment, which kind of defeats the purpose of enjoying a warm coffee on a cold winter day.
Would I go back?: Yes, but only for a coffee to go, and only if I happened to be in the neighborhood. The coffee was great, but I’m a sucker for a place with a good feel to it, and this just didn’t do it for me.
Where is it?: 2812 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
Beermiscuous is a new craft beer cafe located in Lakeview. To be honest, I don’t know what makes something worthy of being called a ‘craft beer cafe’ but it sounds fancy, is not actually fancy at all once you are inside, and I like it. This is how they describe themselves from their website:
The relaxed atmosphere of your local coffee shop
The curated selection of your neighborhood wine store
The social engagement of your favorite Cheers-like watering hole
When I first walked in my knee-jerk reaction was that it looked more like a half-empty liquor store than a ‘Cheers-like watering hole,’ but it definitely grew on me after my first beer. Funny how that happens.
There are only a handful of tables, a fireplace, and a long bar with 12 drafts that rotate various types of local craft brews throughout the year.
What I ordered: Metropolitan flywheel (a german pilsner from Chicago’s Metropoltian Brewing) and Order Out of Chaos (an American Wild Ale from Chicago’s Une Annee Brewery)
What I Liked: Two things please me very much when it comes to beer (outside of the beer tasting delicious) and they are
1) it is cold to the point of near freezing and,
2) it is served in a fancy glass that makes me happy to drink the beer.
I realize this is might be embarrassingly juvenile to any hardcore craft beer aficionados, but that is why I am not (nor ever will be) a beer snob. What can I say? I love a pretty home to hold my beer in.
I am happy to report, that Beermiscuous passed my two point beer test with flying colors.
The only beer that I am not really a fan of are wheat beers, so other than that, I can appreciate any variation of beer. The flywheel was refreshing and light, but not too light that it reminded me of a miller or coors light from my college days of old (which unfortunately many lighter beers tend to do).
The Order Out of Chaos was a little bit fruitier and heavier, and I probably wouldn’t order it again, but it was fun to try.
What I didn’t like: I have to admit, Beermiscuous did have a little of an industrial feel. Not in the cool-hipster-on purpose way that so many places are going after, but in the actual, we-just-opened-and-are-still-getting-set-up kind of way. We lucked out and got two plushy chairs right in front of the fire, but I could have felt differently if we had been sat somewhere else (an argument made by my Eva’s review).
Would I go back?: Yes! I really did love the time we spent here, and the beers were amazing. I love that they rotate beers from local breweries, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s only about a 10-15 minute walk from my apartment.
Trying new coffee and beer might not be the most exciting of adventures, nor will it change my life and cure my Sunday night blues, but sometimes it is the most simple of things that bring us moments of joy, that are worth finding time to squeeze into our busy schedules. Until next time.