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Ready Coffee: The Finest Cup $1 Can Buy

The new Wicker Park shop with custom-roasted beans also sells $5 objects d’art from a cigarette vending machine.

photo courtesy kurman communications

A bright interior and even brighter waitstaff welcome guests at Wicker Park’s new coffee shop. 

Listicles about money-management tips are fond of pointing out how, through saving a little every day and the magic of compound interest, if you cut out your daily cup of Starbucks, by the time you retire, you can, you know, buy a yacht.

Well, if you make that a daily cup of Ready Coffee (1562 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-360-7041), you can still afford a dinghy at age 65.

Open since July 3, Ready Coffee (which briefly flirted with the name Red E Coffee but changed it before the opening to clarify its nonconnection with a Red E in Portland, Oregon) offers a cup for $1. One dollar. Lattes, cappuccinos, and espressos start at $3.

“I, for one, think $5 is too expensive for a cup of coffee,” says Adam Banks, who founded Ready along with John Grbac. “I have a two to three a day cup of coffee habit. And paying $5 per is too much.”

Banks, who started the Ready idea percolating while at the University of Chicago business school, hires longtime roaster Greg Stivers to custom-roast Ready’s beans. The shop also sells baked goods and sandwiches from Delightful Pastries.

Ready sports the Ornot gallery in the back (Ready Ornot, get it?), as well as an Art-O-Mat, a repurposed cigarette vending machine that sells objets d’art for $5. “Like a necklace made out of dominoes,” Banks says. “An itty-bitty drawing. Fun, quirky stuff that’s $5.”

Now, is there an untapped market for customers who think $5 is too expensive for a domino necklace?



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