5 Best Fair Trade • Direct Trade Coffee Shops in Chicago's West Suburbs

Chicago is home to one of three companies (Intelligentsia Coffee) credited with starting the "Third Wave" coffee movement in the 1990s. So it is no surprise that this city is home to scores of coffee shops that focus on the Third Wave principals of fair trade/direct trade, sustainability, and education.

But outside of Chicago proper, it is more difficult to find a coffee whose story you can trace back to its bean and the farmer who tended it.

Chicago is Ground Zero of the Third Wave coffee movement. And even in the Chicago suburbs, direct trade / fair trade coffee can be found, if you know where to look. Here are our five favorite Third Wave coffee shops in Chicago’s West Suburbs.

After spending countless weekends searching out Third Wave coffee shops in Greater Chicago, we have chosen these five (listed alphabetically) to be the best in the West Suburbs:


Chicago is Ground Zero of the Third Wave coffee movement. And even in the Chicago suburbs, direct trade / fair trade coffee can be found, if you know where to look. Here are our five favorite Third Wave coffee shops in Chicago’s West Suburbs.

The Coffee:

Coffee from Philippines is not an everyday-find on the Third Wave Coffee circuit. But Brewpoint Coffee Company is doing it. Having previously sourced and served direct trade coffee from other area roasters, Brewpoint is now building their own relationships with coffee farmers in Philippines, thereby direct-sourcing their own beans. 

Late summer 2017 -and beyond- is an exciting time to be a part of the Brewpoint community, to have front row seats at en evolving farm-to-mug relationship. 

We recommend: anything sourced and roasted by Brewpoint!

Because you'll be a part of a new generation of coffee relationships. And that's really what direct trade coffee is all about, isn't it?

What’s to love besides the coffee?

Owners Mel and Angelo are committed to building community through coffee. And it shows. Brewpoint patrons are encouraged to bring in their own food — particularly take-out purchased from other downtown Elmhurst establishments — and linger longer over any of the books, board games, and even shop-sponsored book clubs offered at Brewpoint. 

Food & non-coffee beverages:

  • teas, iced teas, smoothies
  • a small selection of pastries
  • outside food is allowed to be brought in!

Locations:

  • 124 W Park Ave, Elmhurst, IL 60126
  • Coming soon: 563-601 N York St (York Center Plaza), Elmhurst, IL 60126

Chicago is Ground Zero of the Third Wave coffee movement. And even in the Chicago suburbs, direct trade / fair trade coffee can be found, if you know where to look. Here are our five favorite Third Wave coffee shops in Chicago’s West Suburbs.

The Coffee:

An integral aspect of the direct trade/fair trade coffee movement is establishing relationships with the farmers from whom the raw beans are purchased; in the case of Café La Fortuna, the relationship is an actual relation. Owner Alejandro Garcia-Palacios imports beans directly from his own family’s plantation in Chiapas, Mexico.

The Garcia family has been cultivating coffee near the Mexican-Guatemalan border since 1908 when Doña Garcia -Alejandro's grandmother- purchased the land. 

We recommend: café con leche de la casa

Alejandro has blended a "house milk," specifically designed to accentuate the chocolate, tobacco and flower flavor notes of his family's coffee, in a drink called "Café con leche de la casa" (like a "café de olla" with the addition of their special house milk). ¡Delicioso!

What’s to love besides the coffee?

Cultural awareness, one of our favorite topics, is also one of theirs. Several times a year, Café La Fortuna hosts community education events, designed to bring Mexican heritage to life for area residents. 

Food & non-coffee beverages:

  • teas
  • wine & beer - including a coffee stout
  • traditional Mexican breakfast tortas, quesadillas & tacos
  • salads
  • a small selection of pastries
  • gluten-free options available

Locations:

  • 46 Village Place, Hinsdale, IL 60521
  • 6300 Kingery Hwy, Ste 126, Willowbrook, IL 60527

Chicago is Ground Zero of the Third Wave coffee movement. And even in the Chicago suburbs, direct trade / fair trade coffee can be found, if you know where to look. Here are our five favorite Third Wave coffee shops in Chicago’s West Suburbs.

The Coffee:

Unlike any other direct trade coffee shop we have visited (so far) in the U.S., Endiro's coffee isn't just sourced from abroad; Endiro Coffee is actually based abroad. A Ugandan company, Endiro is actually one of the most popular coffee brands in the small African nation, where it has five coffee shops and a direct-trade network of 2,000+ coffee farmers, mostly women. 

In spring 2017, Endiro opened its first coffee shop outside of Uganda, right in the heart of downtown Aurora. 

We recommend: Bududa Bukalasi pour-over

Originating in a village within a national park, and grown in volcanic soil, this coffee is changing the lives of the mostly-female cooperative cultivating it. Drinking it as a pour-over, black, lets its story be told in its purest.

What’s to love besides the coffee?

Endiro sits in Aurora's historic downtown district, right along the Aurora Riverwalk. This location makes for nice views from the cafe windows (or from its seasonally-opened patio), as well as a convenient starting point for a stroll along the Fox River.

Food & non-coffee beverages:

  • teas from Uganda, Egypt, Nepal & China
  • juices & smoothies
  • reasonably priced basic breakfast combinations
  • light lunch/dinner fare
  • one gluten free cookie option

Location:

  • 29 W New York St, Aurora, IL 60506

Chicago is Ground Zero of the Third Wave coffee movement. And even in the Chicago suburbs, direct trade / fair trade coffee can be found, if you know where to look. Here are our five favorite Third Wave coffee shops in Chicago’s West Suburbs.

The Coffee:

While not direct-sourcing their own beans, Graham's 318 serves coffee from area roasters who do direct-source theirs, including Modest, Two Brothers and I Have a Bean (all in the 'burbs) and Metropolis (in the city). Making it possible to drink fair trade, direct trade, single origin, sustainably and ethically produced coffee even in the farthest of Chicago's Far West Suburbs. 

We recommend: gelato affogato

Literally, "drowned" gelato, this drink is made from espresso poured over the gelato flavor of your choice. Pistachio gelato is a barista favorite for the affogato, but with gelato flavors rotating daily, it can be fun to try a new combination on each visit.

What’s to love besides the coffee?

Gelato made in-house. Local art exhibits. Live music. A front porch. A tree-shaded patio. Along a street lined with trees and art galleries. What more could you ask from your favorite neighborhood coffee shop?

Food & non-coffee beverages:

  • Italians sodas, smoothies, lemonade
  • gelato made on-site
  • chocolate fondue!!!
  • sandwiches, soups & salads
  • a varying selection of pastries 
  • gluten-free options available

Location:

  • 318 S Third St, Geneva, IL 60134

Chicago is Ground Zero of the Third Wave coffee movement. And even in the Chicago suburbs, direct trade / fair trade coffee can be found, if you know where to look. Here are our five favorite Third Wave coffee shops in Chicago’s West Suburbs.

The Coffee:

Conceived in India, established in Wheaton, and sourcing beans from Africa and South America, River City Roasters just about has the world covered. Their goal is to roast each regional batch of coffee in a way that best reflects the farmer's intent for the beans.

A seasonally rotating selection means that each visit to River City Roasters can introduce enthusiasts to a new region or flavor profile. 

We recommend: salted beer caramel latte

Yes, beer, cream, salted caramel, and coffee. Really.

What’s to love besides the coffee?

Original wood floors and exposed brick connect modern coffee drinkers to 125+ years of local history. Because there's really no use in relating to the culture of coffee farmers in another country without engaging with the story of the community you're sitting in yourself.

Food & non-coffee beverages:

  • iced tea, juices from Juice Rx
  • beer & wine after 2pm
  • hot chocolate & chai tea latte
  • bagels and muffins

Location:

  • 114 N Main St, Wheaton, IL 60187

Chicago is Ground Zero of the Third Wave coffee movement. And even in the Chicago suburbs, direct trade / fair trade coffee can be found, if you know where to look. Here are our five favorite Third Wave coffee shops in Chicago’s West Suburbs.

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What did we miss?

Have you found great fair trade/direct trade coffee in the Western 'burbs? Tell us about it!


Coffee lovers: Heading to California? Don't miss:

5 Best Fair Trade•Direct Trade Coffee Shops in Orange County, California


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