Best Coffeehouse - 2012
Sump Coffee isn't a coffeehouse so much as a sanctuary. No venti bone-dry cappuccinos or pumpkin-spice lattes here. Instead, owner and head barista (and impressive beard-wearer and motorcycle enthusiast) Scott Carey presents coffee as a beverage of great beauty and complexity. It isn't simply that he makes each drink (coffee, espresso, latte or cappuccino) to order; for each, he chooses whichever method best highlights the flavor and body of a particular bean. So, for example, he'll brew El Salvadoran coffee roasted by Chicago's Intelligentsia using a Chemex (glass) brewer, a Panamanian coffee from the same source, on the other hand, he'll brew in a ceramic Beehive coffee dripper. Sump's ultra-pricey, ultra-exact Slayer espresso maker lets Carey adjust the extraction pressure to draw out the flavor and body profile of his choice. And the elaborate, tower-like Kyoto drip process used for ice coffee has to be seen in order to be believed. What makes the Sump experience so great — besides the coffee, of course — is that Carey and his small staff of similarly dedicated baristas share their passion without the slightest hint of snobbery. They truly want to help you find the coffee you want but can't quite articulate — or the coffee you never knew existed but soon won't be able to start your day without.