After several days spent traipsing around Lake Michigan and Lake Huron on a top-secret mission (during which Tandye won first prize at a monster costume contest), it was time to begin our three-day drive back home to Vancouver, BC. Our route took us from northern Indiana through Illinois. On a day when we planned to drive for twelve hours, we’d generally try to avoid travelling through a metro area like Chicago, but on this Saturday morning, traffic was relatively light, and we had a little spare time, so we took a brief detour off I-94 to Werewolf Coffee Bar.
Like so much of the lycanthropic ephemera I experience, I learned about Werewolf from a passing reference on a podcast. Two of the hosts of Do By Friday, Max and Alex, record in Chicago, at the Lincoln Park headquarters of Cards Against Humanity. Sometime last year, Max made a passing reference to the nearby coffee shop, and a small portion of my brain became forever dedicated to knowing that there was a caffeine retailer called “Werewolf” a mere 2,200 miles from my home.
Werewolf is a truck inside a building, parked by the entrance to a space with high ceilings, plenty of seating, and a design aesthetic that’s much more Glass Walker than Uktena. This quiet, airy space is ostensibly for customers of the coffee bar, although it also seems to serve as a hang-out space for other tenants of the building. We only visited long enough to get our drinks and snap some photos, but I could easily imagine hanging out there for hours.
In addition to coffee and tea, they offer a narrow range of snack food, but I skipped over that to zero in on their merch zone, where they sell t-shirts and patches emblazoned with their logo. Those items – and the signage out front – are the only things that reference werewolves, which is fine, because most of their customers probably aren’t utter fanatics like me. I bought a t-shirt and a patch. Like a fanatic.
Coffee is an essential component of any road trip, and in that context, I am not particularly picky about quality – although I will gladly suffer a withdrawal headache rather than drink Tim Horton’s hot brown water. Werewolf’s coffee menu, however, is calibrated to satisfy people who know about things like Chemex ratios and “bloom”, and their barista provided Tandye and me with the best mocha and Americano of the entire trip.
If one were so inclined, one could probably spend years driving around America, visiting coffee bars and restaurants and nail salons with werewolf-related names. I think the overall experience of such a pilgrimage would be fairly middling – the inclusion of a werewolf theme in an enterprise is no indicator of quality, as werewolf movies have taught us – but perhaps the standout locations would make the effort memorable. Werewolf Coffee Bar certainly rose to the occasion. If you live in the Chicagoland area or are even just passing through, it’s worth stopping by! Just remember to be patient with the parking, and bring an extra fifteen bucks for a t-shirt.
Werewolf Coffee Bar is located at 1765 N. Elston Ave in Chicago, and is open Mon-Fri 6am-4pm, and Saturday 8am-3pm.