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Finally, You Can Grab a Cup of Chicago’s Most Sought-After Coffee

Sparrow Coffee used to mostly sell to restaurants like Grace and the Publican—even turning down some restaurants deemed unworthy. Now it’s opening its own shop.

Sparrow Coffee owner Chris Chacko treats coffee the way sommeliers treat wine.   Photo: Lucy Hewett

The caffeine scene in the Loop is about to get way more interesting. When new food hall Forum 55 (55 E. Monroe St.) opens this fall, Sparrow Coffee will be among its vendors.

This will be one of the first times you’ll be able to drink Sparrow’s stuff outside of ordering at a restaurant—though cafés are in the works, the business has been largely wholesale up to this point. It’s exciting news for anyone who enjoys a good cup of coffee: Roaster Chris Chacko’s coffees are fascinating and exquisite, good enough to be featured in some of the city’s best restaurant kitchens, as I found when I profiled him earlier this year:

Chris Chacko thinks about coffee differently from the rest of us. He sees it as others see wine: something rarefied and complex, an elixir to be tasted and savored and understood for the way it interacts with the elements of a meal. He is Chicago’s high priest of coffee, and he counts among his acolytes the best and most innovative restaurateurs in town, from Paul Kahan at the Publican to the doughnut wizards at Glazed and Infused. … Four of Chicago’s 10 best new restaurants, including top spot Oriole, use Sparrow coffee. Chacko told me that when Michael Muser of Grace—speaking of three Michelin stars—did [a tasting], he laughed in disbelief and then asked for a contract then and there.

Other vendors at Forum 55 include Butcher & Larder, Mercadito, and Pork & Mindy’s—so sounds like we’ll soon be finding out which coffees pair best with both bao sandwiches and tacos.

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