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Evanston’s Best Coffee Shops
January 27, 2023
Coffee is an essential part of the day for many people around the world. A morning cup of joe is often a necessity; without it, many would be lost, wandering in the abyss of tiredness. Some make it at home, but often the steaming (or iced) beverage served up by one of Evanston’s many coffee shops is worth the five-dollar price tag. But not all coffees are created equal, and the taste of the drink as it douses your taste buds is very dependent on the café it came from. From cappuccinos to cortados to plain simple pastries, Evanston’s coffee shops have it all. Here are the three best ones, according to ETHS students.
Winner: Backlot Coffee
Fresh, local and a known study spot, Backlot Coffee is a loved location on Central Street. With perfect options for seasonal drinks and food, the coffee shop is always filled with students and residents. The welcoming environment and high popularity has led to the shop being voted the number one favorite coffee shop in Evanston, according to ETHS students.
Senior Sofia Shewfelt touches on Backlot’s environment. “They have incredibly welcoming employees, great service, good food and an awesome atmosphere.”
The business is open seven days a week, and is known for kind employees. Whenever a customer chooses Backlot, a friendly “hello” is always waiting behind the doors. Proving the positive descriptions of the local restaurant is the bustling activity inside, as it can sometimes be difficult to find a seat.
Similar to Shewfelt, junior Monroe Stroth describes the energy at Backlot. “It is relatively fast to get your food,” Stroth explains. “The environment is very friendly, and I am always seeing my friends or people I know when I go in. It gives the perfect coffee shop vibe you need for studying or just hanging out.”
Backlot continues to excel through having a staff that are truly kind people. “I love the fact that the whole cafe is covered in plants,” says Shewfelt. “But aside from that, they do a great job at making it a fun place to work or socialize.”
The warm environment and convenience isn’t the only draw. The storefront is filled with delicious pastries, food options and drinks. The seasonal treats that Backlot has to offer are another plus, as the on-theme food and drink contribute to their unique environment.
Senior Noah Reichlin, says that their “Peppermint infused hot chocolate is my favorite!”
Besides the seasonal snacks, Stroth enjoys the chai lattes and the old fashioned donut. The store has wonderful holiday options, but their classic, year-round treats will never disappoint.
With the name stemming from a shared backyard-playground in Evanston, the possibilities to flourish and be yourself are continued into the coffee shop. Backlot claims to be a “comfortable, stimulating, and diverse community,” and many will say Backlot is exactly that.
If you are ever passing Central Street, be sure to stop by, because, as Shewfelt says, “you can never go wrong at Backlot.”
At the heart of downtown Evanston lies Colectivo: a warm and welcoming coffee shop. Students always fill the tables due to the perfect study environment and the functional indoor and outdoor seating. Not only do they have special holiday decorations and seasonal food and drink, but the staff always welcomes you with a warm smile too.
Senior Karolien Van Mieghem enjoys the study environment. “I like the ambience and how everyone else is studying around me. It’s the perfect amount of noise for me to study. It’s not too loud but not too quiet.”
“I love the environment inside, it feels very cozy and a great place to hang out with friends and study,” sophomore Josephine Bonney adds. “I especially love it during the holidays because they put up seasonal decorations.” This adds to the aura and charm that one experiences when visiting Colectivo.
“It’s a super cute cafe,” freshman Lilla Johnson exclaims. The shop has many places to sit and plants throughout the cafe, which add to its great environment, and makes it a community area that is very welcoming.
Aside from the cozy environment, they also have a great selection of food, including many delicious seasonal options. Johnson says, “I like their iced chai and the pumpkin spice French toast.”
The huge menu has everything from sandwiches to smoothies to lattes. The seasonal specials also never disappoint.
A highlight of Colectivo’s menu are the vegetarian and vegan options. A favorite is the impossible burrito which includes tofu, sweet potatoes, impossible meat, and salsa.
Colectivo is accessible by foot, as well as public transportation and has ample parking available. It also accommodates large groups with its long tables that also are great for taking your time to study—perfect for ETHS students.
With a great menu coupled with its great atmosphere, it is a place you should be sure to visit in the future.
Third Place: Brothers K
Picture Luke’s Diner from Gilmore Girls. Take in the smell of rich brazilian espresso, the soft chatter from the couple sitting next to you and the crowded shelves housing retro crimson mugs. Luckily in Evanston, we can feel a semblance of Stars Hollow on the corner of Hinman and Main where Brothers K is located. A hometown staple for South-West Evanstonians, Brothers K is an adorable coffee shop that values affordability, quality, and community.
“[Brothers K] is a place where you could study and get a lot done, but you can also meet up with someone and have a conversation without it feeling too loud or too quiet. [They] also play nice, quiet music, so [it] always [feels] cozy,” says senior Stella Ward.
Ward has been Brothers K regular since childhood. Initially coming to play board games with family members, Ward has developed a deep appreciation for Brothers K over the years.
“[Brothers K] has always been the closest [coffee shop] to my house and I’ve been going there since I was little. And I feel like they’ve always made such an effort to build community. When I was little, I’d go with my mom, and they’d have games that I could play. And then in middle school, they’d always have a good hot chocolate, and [now I go there] to do college applications,” Ward continues.
Just like many other seniors, coffee shops have been an integral weekend staple to work on college applications, and finding an environment that fosters both productivity and comfort is of foremost importance. For Ward, Brothers K checks those boxes.
“It feels so nice to walk in and to be surrounded with people that I know. I feel like I know all the people behind the counter, and I still see the same people when I come in. And even just like listening to the conversations between the people and people who come in typically, like we all know each other. It feels like a little family.”
Whether you’re going to grab a latte to-go or spend hours completing homework, you can be rest assured that Brothers K serves high-quality coffee and a warming welcome.