The Wormhole Coffee
- Josh Tuck
- Josh Tuck
Wicker Park is my new favorite neighborhood in Chicago. More than any other area, it feels like the city’s hipster mecca. Almost everyone is under 30 and sporting Warby Parkers, Red Wings, and concert t-shirts from bands I won’t know about until two years after they’ve broken up. North Milwaukee Avenue is crammed with bars, record shops, vintage furniture stores, second-hand bookstores, “recycled” clothing boutiques, and dozens of interesting restaurants. Here, everything that is old is cool again, and no place more typifies this aesthetic than The Wormhole Coffee. Sean Wang, of Trionfale Espresso, recommended them so we knew it would be good. As soon as we saw “Est. 2015” on the door, and the DeLorean time machine perched in the back, we knew this was no ordinary coffee house.
Danielle said to the barista, “So, you guys have a DeLorean…”. The barista replied nonchalantly, “Yeah, you know, the owner wanted one, so they had one made.” Along with Dr. Emmett Brown’s pride and joy, there are vintage movie posters of classics from the late 70’s and 80’s such as; The Goonies, The Blues Brothers, and Ghostbusters. Displayed on the ventilation ducts are a large collection of lunch boxes. They even have a TIE Fighter and an Imperial Shuttle parked on a display case stacked with Worm Hole t-shirts and hats. The coffee bar itself is like a shrine to toys of 80’s. If the goal of The Worm Hole is to make 30-somethings feel like they’ve stepped back in time to when they were running around the backyard fighting crime in their Superman Underoos — then mission accomplished. We came in for coffee, but all I wanted to do was chase Danielle around the place with the TIE Fighter.
Snapping back to reality, and preserving what little dignity I had left, we ordered an Americano and a chai latte. The latte art on Danielle’s drink signaled that The Worm Hole wasn’t using the rad decor to distract you from “meh” coffee. Unlike other chai teas that are often too sweet, or taste like scorched milk, this one struck a fantastic balance of properly warmed milk, honey, and spiced tea. It was the first time I actually enjoyed a chai latte. The Americano I had was superb as well. It’s no surprise though, since The Worm Hole’s house coffee is Metropolis; Chicago’s other titan of coffee roasting. Excellent Americanos, like this one, retain their complex espresso flavors, but allow extended enjoyment of them thanks to the addition of just the right amount of hot water.
Like Xoco, The Worm Hole instantly made it onto my short list of places I must visit when I’m in Chicago. It’s a nice change from the standard Chicago scene and it’s easy to get there on the “L” Blue Line. It’s also the only place I know of where coffee aficionados and fans of 80’s pop-culture can be treated to a shot of nostalgia with their shot of espresso.