Overall Rating: 9.000

Address: 53 W. Jackson Blvd.
Cross Street(s): Btwn. Dearborn & Federal Sts.
City, State ZIP: Chicago, IL 60604
Neighborhood: Loop
Phone: 312.253.0594
Hours: M-F 6am-5:30pm
Type of Establishment: Espresso Bar (Chain)
Cafe Rating:
Barista: 9
Savvy: 9
Ambiance: 9
Presentation: 9
Consistency: Very Consistent
Espresso Machine: La Marzocco
Coffee Rating:
Aroma: 10
Body: 9
Brightness: 9
Crema: 8
Flavor: 9
Taster's Correction: 0.0
Size: S
Primary Taste: Chocolate-like
Coffee Beans: Intelligentsia
Cup Manufacturer: ACF
Price: $1.55
Last Update: 12/27/2005
First Reviewed: 4/5/2005
Notes: Coffee Sales, Coffee Accessory Sales


This recent (since 2003) downtown location in the old Monodnock Building draws in well-heeled downtown business clientele, but there are also the occasional students. Inside, the decor is reminiscent of a classic European café: small marble-top café tables with spindly wooden chairs, elegant counters and ceilings, walls covered with antique Italian espresso machine ads, etc.

Intelligentsia entrance from Federal St. Espresso menu and the yellow La Marzocco at the bar Facing Jackson St. with various Victoria Arduino posters

The barista skills here are solid. (You can even vote for your favorite barista of the month.) Using one of two available yellow, three-group La Marzocco machines, they serve espresso with a medium-dark brown, mottled crema of average thickness. It's not as exceptionally creamy, nor as exceptionally dark, as the Lakeview/Broadway location, but it works really well. They serve the espresso notably short as a proper ristretto: there are barely three sips in the Black Cat-labelled ACF cup. Unbelievable aroma. Dark colored, somewhat rich, and slightly syrupy with a borderline sweet flavor of dark chocolate and hints of caramel. While it can also exhibit some smokiness, it generally has a weaker flavor depth than the Lakeview location. Still, this is one of America's finest.

The Intelligentsia ristretto: note how a true espresso should look Is that a dark crema or what? The Black Cat cappuccino