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Working in Coffee Shops: Chicago

Recently I started working from home...again.

And I can honestly say the experience has been much better this time around.  I think there are a lot of reasons I feel this way, but one is definitely that I'm more intentional about getting out of my place and I find myself at a coffee shop for the morning hours once or twice a week.

With that in mind, I collected some of the coffee shops I've worked at for a working in coffee shops Chicago guide if you will.

Some things I look for to lead to a good working experience for me.  

  • Wifi doesn't even seem necessary to state, but, good wifi, we'll say.  
    • Note on wifi:  usually they post their wifi password by the coffee fixins.  If you take your coffee black, you will often be the awkward person always asking for the wifi password only to be pointed to the sign on the wall directly behind you.  (Raises hand)
  • Space:  I am the type of person where if I notice people are looking for seats I get anxious and uncomfortable like I shouldn't be sitting where I am.  Feeling anxious doesn't lead to good focus on my work.
  • Coffee mugs, if I'm staying, I really don't want to use a paper cup (although I can bring my own cup in those situations).  
  • Some food that's not a scone or bagel can be nice if I'm in the mood.  I'm a breakfast person, what can I say.
So there's the layout of what I look for.  Let's get started.

Filter Cafe - Wicker Park
The space here is pretty huge and believe it or not, when I left around 11:00 it was mostly full!  They have tons of breakfast and I ate a brunch level breakfast on a workday!  

New Wave - Logan Square
Also lots of space and windows on interesting streets for distractions when you want them.

Intelligensia - Lakeview
Open wifi, which is okay with me because this is the only place I didn't have to look silly looking for the password so far.  This place did get pretty full, but there was an almost even flow of people coming and going so it worked out okay.

Cafe Mustache
This place honestly had an awesome working vibe.  People were having small meetings and people were also working solo, silently.  There were lots of outlets (aka power strips) and food aside from scones and bagels.  It was big (2 rooms) so no pressure to rush.  
I actually was able to co-work with one of my friends who also works from home here and had a good experience.  
Although I should note, the wifi stopped working on my computer for no apparent reason.  It did not stop working for my friend so it was probably just my computer.

Gaslight Coffee Roasters

I feel my expectations were a bit squed because of the description in this article.  They say "a lot of seating" and I've mentioned how the seating makes me anxious sometimes.  I wouldn't necessarily say "a lot", maybe normal amount.  I got there at 9 on a Thursday and it was quite busy.  I ended up at a communal picnic table, which is okay with me.  I will say I never felt pressured to move on, which makes me the most anxious.
Lots and lots of power outlets everywhere.  Thank you!  Wifi password is on the tip jar:  surprise!  
What surprised me about this place is, yes, there were a lot of people working (hello macs), but the majority of people were catching up like it was a weekend or something... hmmmm curious.  Also the people working seemed to know each other and they were taking breaks to catch up too.  My hypothesis: this place must have a lot of regulars.
I probably needed to ask for a breakfast menu (and I didn't) and I'm not a huge sweets person for breakfast so I was hungry and a bit shaky (with the lack of food).  This is all on me and not a reflection of Gaslight.  I hear their food is good...


I was here a on cold, rainy day so I'm not sure if my experience will be the normal experience.  Mostly because I hear this place is always packed and I was a little nervous getting there to find two seats (co-working day) and not only did I easily find and save two seats, it seemed pretty empty!  
Everyone was nice, they have some delicious looking pastries.  Wifi's at the creamer (and the password is hard to remember on my walk from the creamer to my seat).  There are some fun, different seats so you can pick your seat based on your mood.

Stan's - Wicker Park

This one surprised me with my working from here experience.  Wifi - super easy.  It's Stan's.  Stan's = donuts so clearly something substantial for breakfast was not my concern that day.  I sat myself up at a window seat, pulled out my computer and mouse and worked away.  (Does anyone else hate their work track pad on their laptop?)  I liked the window seat because it was a cold blustery day so I almost got to pretend I was outside.  It's not a big place, but people didn't seem to linger too long...except me.  Reusable cups, just make sure to let them know you're staying.

Bow Truss - Logan Square

Good thing this one was co-working and my friend Jason uses his work hot spot because they do not have wifi.  You've been warned.  Afterwards, I checked in on the one in Lakeview and they do have wifi so clearly this is not consistent across Bow Truss's.  Check with your local Bow Truss before you assume.  The vibe here was pretty quiet. I had breakfast beforehand. #savingmoney  We sat in the back and chatted while we worked.  I didn't think we bothered anyone and Jason thought we bothered one person.  So there you go.


This was such a contrasting experience for me.  And I really wanted to like it so much (they have a patio I’ve had my eye on for the upcoming (hopefully!) warmer months).  I should preface that it was busy when I walked in.  I’ve only been there a couple times before, but I was first confused by the drip coffee listing and ordered stupidly.  So I felt stupid, but the lady taking my order definitely did not make me feel any better.  I was ready to retreat to my seat to drink my coffee and I couldn’t get the wifi to work.  So I had to go back to the same lady and she was equally not helpful.  No wifi.  Rough for me.  (There are only certain projects I can work on without wifi.)
Then as I’m drinking my coffee thinking about getting out of here the guy doing experimental stuff behind the bar asks me if I want to try something.  SO NICE!  I said no because I still just wanted to leave.  He even checked in with me again later.  (Note:  I don’t think he usually works at this location judging from his conversation with others.)
So pros and cons.  
I do think once it gets nicer, I’ll just go to Coffee and Tea Exchange where they don’t have wifi because Osmium’s wasn’t working anyway.  Or Heritage: wifi and outdoor space.
Maybe this was a one-time experience…

Does anyone else think in your head weefee after watching Season 2 of Kimmy Schmidt and laugh a little.  Oh, Titus.

This post is getting very long (already is?) so I'm going to stop.  That's enough to start with!


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