Metropolis Coffee Company

local coffee brewer metropolis

Imagine you’re in the grocery aisle and you’re staring at the massive wall of coffee bags, most of them preground, and while they all have various “flavors” added to them they ultimately smell sort of the same at the end with that lingering hint of cardboard. Peet’s, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Caribou — trusted logos implanted into our brains by million dollar marketing schemes and now begging for your attention. Now imagine the owner of one of these companies or perhaps a trusted employee steps into your grocery aisle and starts to walk you through your choices, helping you pinpoint just what sort of flavor, roasting strength and regional bean fits your needs and wants in this instance. Oh you want fresh? Well here’s the roasting date on the bag, he says, just a couple days ago. If this was possible and the coffee your new friend recommended only cost a few bucks more then the cardboard stuff next to it, wouldn’t you take him up on his recommendation? Welcome to Metropolis Coffee Company, a Chicago artisanal coffee roaster and a pioneer redefining what your local coffee shop should do for you.

The scenario described above is not fictional. The baristas and cashiers at Metropolis Coffee Company in Edgewater/Uptown step behind the counter and assist people in purchasing their bags of coffee throughout the day. They are able to do this because they know the roasters — they are coworkers of theirs who would take offense if their barista friends didn’t brew their coffee and espresso just right. This is how Jeff Dreyfuss and his son Tony want the coffee experience to be, and their Metropolis Coffee is beginning to rival Intelligentsia as Chicago’s premier locally roasted bean brokers.

Metropolis and Intelligentsia are both leading the Chicago coffee revolution (see my Intelligentsia feature) and are each doing it in a distinctive way. Metropolis might have bags appearing in coffee shops and grocery stores all over the city, but their company remains tremendously accessible; just another artsy community café poised near the Loyola Campus available for studying, music, dialogue and reflection. Local artists feature their work on the walls, except for the ones in the back where glass windows give full view of their baking and tea operation. Homemade muffins, scones, and croissants makeup the typical café food but maintain the same in-house attention given to their coffee.

And their coffee, wow is that shit good. I gave up the latte a long time ago due to its overpowering milk presence but the strength of their espresso stands strong enough to achieve a balance of smokiness and cream that just leaves me melting in my seat. I admit their Red Line brand has been replacing Black Cat in my home espresso maker of late, packing that needed punch without losing any of its fruity finish. They don’t have the fancy machines that Intelligentsia features, but a mini French press will make me a happy camper any day.

Metropolis features mostly blends, each crafted with specific flavor combo’s, very distinctive from one another. They seem to favor beans from Indonesia (probably because Jeff Dreyfuss used to be an Indonesian Language Professor in Seattle) and insist on fair trade practice with their farmers. For now they use trusted brokers to make their fair trades, but like Intelligentsia they are gearing up for direct trade with farmers. Metropolis personnel would be actually visiting these growers for bean to brew quality control. I can’t imagine their coffee getting any better, but if it helps the growers of my favorite crop then I’m all for it.

Now step away from the grocery aisle and repeat after me: “I only drink coffee roasted in Chicago.” That wasn’t hard was it? You’re not a snob, you just have an investment in quality and your beautifully industrious city. Metropolis Coffee Company and their fabulous coffee shop are shining examples of this philosophy, our Urban Philosophy.

The Essentials:
Metropolis Coffee Company
Location: 1039 W. Granville Ave
Phone: 773.764.0400


David Frankel McLean

About David Frankel McLean

I’ve been thinking philosophically about Chicago since I was jaywalking the streets at the age of 10. I don’t root for both baseball teams and I don’t put Ketchup on my hot dogs. When someone says they’re a Chicagoan they are speaking of a heritage and a doctrine, not just a location. What that doctrine is I’m not entirely sure, it’s constantly changing with the growth of the city and I’ll spend my entire life trying to figure it out.

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