Seems as though very few groups of people understand, appreciate, or covet coffee the way cyclists do. Part ritual, part necessity, the cafe stop pre- and post-ride to some is the most important part. My love of a great espresso has grown quickly over the years having to make up for lost time, I didn't start to drink coffee until after college.
Starting from scratch, Starbucks seemed great. It was convenient, and well, that's about it. When you don't know any better, you think it's fine. Fortunately a good friend introduced me to small roasters, and at that point my world changed.....
All of that has led me here, The Wormhole. If you're a child of the 80's, there probably isn't another storefront in the world you could walk in to and feel more immediately comfortable. Walls covered with Ghostbusters, Nintendo, Indiana Jones, and Back to the Future paraphernalia brought me back to some of the best times of my life. Fortunately, the fun doesn't stop at some posters and a neon light or two: a DeLorean perched 12' above the floor at the back of the cafe shows the true commitment to this culture.
Being located in the heart of Wicker Park means no less than a third of the customer base is sporting an ironic mustache and there are more fedoras than smart phones. But, in The Wormhole they've managed to eschew the attitude that is so prevalent in the hood and create an atmosphere that I actually enjoyed.
Now for the coffee: over the last few weeks I've had an iced coffee, brewed coffee, and a latte. Of course, I forgot to ask which beans were used for the iced coffee, but my brewed coffee was made from Guatemala La Bolsa by Halfwit. A little sweet and fruity, but not at all overly so, I was impressed. With that, I'll say I'm not much for a standard cup of coffee. I never brew or press coffee at home, so to be happy with it should be taken as a compliment.
The latte is what I am most excited about. Perfectly frothy, I found it to have a slight hint of some dark chocolate and also a light hint of citrus as well. Almost as importantly, my barista clearly took great pride in her work as she poured for a number of customers and when one came out that didn't meet her standard she had no problem asking if the customer could wait for her to make another. At a busy shop, some could see this as a turn-off, it did slow down the line a touch, but pride in craftsmanship goes a long way in my book and I truly appreciated the pride.
As it relates to cycling, The Wormhole finds itself located in a prime position to be the start and/or finish of a Chicago-based ride. One could easily leave from The Wormhole and be on the De Luca ride, named after a defunct local cafe. Head straight east and hit the Lakefront Path for 20-ish miles of basically-car-free riding, or head straight north up Damen to Evanston and all the Northshore has to offer.