Knives flick quickly through pieces of carefully selected fruit, dicing sweet produce into bite-sized pieces at Chill Bubble Tea. Organic frozen yogurt cradles just-sliced toppings such as mango, berries, and bananas, flaunting fat-free and kosher status and the ability to inspire brain-freeze research. Springy pearls cruise through cool, customizable cups of bubble tea in flavors including watermelon, coconut, and cotton candy. Timi loose-leaf tea leaves, picked by hand as carefully as a king's birthday crown, steep in steaming cups beneath modish crimson lights and release delicate dispatches to nostrils.
Since its inception in 1999, Adagio Teas has filled the cups of its ever-growing customer base with farm-fresh gourmet teas harvested from across the globe. Seasoned sippers and new tea drinkers alike gather around the fragrant vapors of Adagio's expansive selection, which includes thousands of unique green, chai, and herbal teas. In addition to its stockpile of potables, Adagio Teas puts an innovative spin on tea ware with a varied collection of ceramic sets, Asian-inspired pots, and electric kettles that purr when plugged in or tickled gently with unused leaves. Adagio Teas' products fill the virtual shelves of its online store, and can also be found in many gourmet and health-food shops.
Brian and John Kim may be business partners, but they are in a constant state of competition. Luckily, this competition happens to make Brothers K Coffeehouse?s vibe a welcoming one: they keep a tally as to which sibling knows the most customers? names. After a personalized greeting or an excited ?Heeey?you!,? they or one of their baristas prepares Metropolis Coffee that?s organic and fair- or direct-trade. They also enjoy turning their lattes into works of art, pouring the milk to form swirled images with whimsical names such as ?Nerd Parade? and ?The Comb-Over.? Espressos, however, are a more serious art form. Each barista possesses a mastery of the onsite Three Group La Linea EE semiautomatic espresso machine, engineered by La Marzocco in Florence and equipped with upgrades to help modulate water pressure and keep the coffee from coagulating into ice cream.
Aside from drinks, visitors can peruse a selection of snacks from local vendors, including Sam?s Scones, Bennison?s Bakery, and Blind Faith Café. As a reviewer for Centerstage notes, most customers opt out of to-go cups. ?Regulars?read, hook up to free wifi, or play board games selected from the café?s hefty collection? for ?hours.? Depending on the day of the week, patrons might also hear a poetry reading or perform themselves at an open mic night.
Since 1993, Casteel Coffee’s baristas have caffeinated locals with steaming cups of artisanal roasted beans. The shop’s staffers follow in the footsteps of roast master Lee Casteel, who set the café’s course by roasting beans in small batches to ensure high quality. A new generation of roasters sources arabica coffees from around the world, procuring fair-trade varieties and naturally processed decaf beans whenever possible. To fulfill their motto, “fresh from our roaster to your cup,” coffeemakers pour drip coffees or press potent espresso shots from freshly ground beans.
Herbal, scented, and green and black teas also flow from the metaphorical tap, and the shop even purveys the occasional piece of high-tech brewing equipment, such as an electric coffee grinder or a mug that has WiFi. The success of the café’s knowledgeable staff and liquid pick-me-ups fueled the company’s expansion from a single café in Evanston to a second location in Chicago’s Loop. Casteel Coffee animates a dedication to its community by not supplanting the water in local fire hydrants with coffee and by supporting nonprofit organizations, such as the Chicago Children’s Museum.