If you saw a piano, a fireplace, couches, some books, tables with reading lamps, and maybe a few board games, you might be in someone’s living room. But if that living room had black walls, local art, a skull, and amazing coffee beverages that rumble across your table every time the red line train passes by, you’d be at Emerald City Coffee House.
I rode my bike north on Sheridan until Google Maps told me I had reached my destination. Honestly, it was a bit hard to find, what under the train tracks and concealed behind a maintenance truck with a crane and a bunch of men with jackhammers. This was not promising.
You see, I wasn’t there checking it out by myself, I had scheduled a meetup there for my writing group, but unfortunately, the CTA was repairing the L tracks that very same day.
I arrived early so I could eat and ordered a chicken and bacon sandwich and their Cafe Miel, which is an espresso with steamed milk, honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg (be sure to stir it before drinking – I assumed I didn’t have to and drank a top layer of latte followed by a bottom layer of honey and spices).
All of this was quite good (despite the lack of stirring on my part) and the noise wasn’t too bad while I was just hanging out.
However, once I tried to get down to business, my laptop wouldn’t connect to their wi-fi. Then when I tried to write, suddenly every jackhammer, every train, every song in the background music, the coming and going of people through the two separate doors, and even the milk steaming truly got intolerable.
I probably wouldn’t have noticed it that much if the rest of my writers hadn’t shot me a death stare every time someone opened the door and let the noise burst louder by several decibels. You see, we’re writers. We sit quietly, we concentrate, we try to write. That doesn’t go well with jackhammers and passing trains and catchy tunes competing to drown out the noise.
So, dear coffee drinker: the coffee is AMAZING. My Cafe Miel was delightful, so was the drip brew I ordered after it, and my friends’ Quick Fixes (those were tiny and expensive, but really good). So many of their beverages in the menu looked so appealing I’ll probably go back and try them all. The coffee shop is quirky and comfy and you’d want to curl on a couch or check out all the stuff they’ve got, it’s a visual cornucopia. You notice something quirky everywhere. And they host events at night, too. This is probably super cozy in winter.
But, writer/freelancer: the cafe is dark, the wi-fi is dodgy, and you won’t be able to tune out All. The. Noises. Most coffee shops have a level of white noise we crave and can concentrate with, but this one overwhelms and infuriates. Perhaps things are calmer when the CTA is not jack-hammering outside, but my group that day had about 13 writers and only one said she didn’t mind the noise.
3938 N Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60613
M-F 6 am-9 pm
Sat 7 am-9 pm
Sun 7 am-8 pm