Beguiled in Chicago
Leah Walker June 6, 2012

Being the ever-gracious hostess that I am, I volunteered to leave the comforts of the Sofitel Chicago and make a doughnut and coffee run on Saturday morning. Of course, I did this the night before, after a few cocktails, and before I knew it was going to rain. No matter. I’d take one for the #WindyCityTweetup team.

Aaron left Detroit for Chicago before the sun was even thinking about rising. He arrived to the Sofitel at 9:00 am on the dot to deliver me to his favorite coffee shop. I’d heard tales of a peanut butter latte, which tickled my taste buds to no end. I live and die by peanut butter (and Nutella, but not necessarily in that order). So while Raul and Lola were each curled up in their respective rooms, Aaron and I were dressed for the day and off to fetch them some breakfast.

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The streets were surprisingly empty, and it took only a few minutes to drive to the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. Nestled in between vintage clothing stores and other funky shops was Wormhole Coffee. With umbrella in hand, Aaron and I could smell the beans from across Milwaukee Avenue.

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It was quiet in the place filled with eclectic ’80s charm. The Back to the Future DeLorean was displayed high along the back wall. Vintage lunch boxes served as crown molding along the ceiling. Boom boxes, Star Wars coffee mugs, classic ’80s movie posters, board games, and even a bust of Ronald Reagan served as decor. I was transported to my teens, and even looked down to ensure I wasn’t wearing tight-rolled stonewashed jeans.

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I studied the chalkboard menu designed to look like a classic Atari game. There was the Peanut Butter Koopa Troopa I’d heard about. Mmmmm…peanut butter. The Vanilla Bean latte sounded yummy, too. I was at a loss. Ordering two for myself was at best, gluttonous, and at worst, dangerous.

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After much deliberation, I decided on the Honey Bear latte. I watched as the pony-tailed barista squeezed, sprinkled, shook, ground, brewed, foamed, and carefully poured my drink. This was no Starbucks experience, you know, quick and dirty. Nope, the making of this latte was akin to Rowan Atkinson’s gift wrapping scene in Love Actually. It was a good five-minute process.

I was finally summoned to the counter; my Honey Bear latte was ready. I knew my drink was made with love, there was even a little, foam heart to prove it.  I swept my caffeine fix from the counter and immediately raised the paper cup to my nose. Breathing in the delicious aroma of coffee and honey, I took a small sip. My eyes widened and my taste buds did the mamba.

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I couldn’t remember having a better cup of coffee. Enthralled with my Honey Bear, I hardly noticed that Aaron had his Peanut Butter Koopa Troopa. He graciously offered me a sip. I hesitated for a second; I didn’t want to part with Honey Bear even for a moment. I gave in to temptation. Koopa Troopa was good. Actually, it was delicious.

Had I not met my Honey Bear first, we might have been forever linked. But just like with any other long-distance love affair, it had to end. I savored our last moments together. I drew Honey Bear to my lips one last time, and with a bit of sorrow, I walked out the door. I denied myself the pleasure of looking back. I was afraid I’d never leave if I did. Besides, Raul, Lola, and the Doughnut Vault were waiting.

Leah Walker

Leah’s a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that’s in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah’s thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don’t extend to speaking French. Yet.

28 Comments

  1. Excellent pix as usual. Looking at the last pic, I was wondering if you told them your name was Honey…

    I concur with Francesca that I feel I was there with you. Except my coffee would have been hot had I been 😉

    1. Yes, Raul, had you been with me your coffee wouldn’t have been cold. Perhaps if you hadn’t had the WORST idea in the history of ideas your coffee wouldn’t have been cold either. You just wait for my next Chicago post. You’re going to be the STAR!

      Oh, thanks for the love on my pictures. 😉

    1. Ahhhh, Jeremy, I think you’d come to the dark side if you had just one sip of Honey Bear. She’ll haunt your dreams. She’s just that good.

    1. I could spend hours in there just looking at the decor. Talk about an adolescent flash back. The awesome coffee was an added bonus.

    1. You poor thing, Annette. Decaf isn’t good for anything except pouring out. There’s a Honey Bear in your future, I just know it.

  2. Wonderful pictures. I love the atmosphere of a good coffee shop on a rainy day. Looks like this would be my kind of place.

    1. Yeah, John, I get in such a routine in going to Starbucks that I forget about awesome places like this. Add it to your list of things to do when/if in Chicago.

  3. what a tasty treat, Leah, and i’m not talking about the coffee ;). i can completely imagine that honey bear coffee now and am irritated with myself for staying back at the hotel. WHAT DID I MISS! you know how i hate missing out!! glad you enjoyed though & thanks for sharing.

    1. You’re so sassy, Miss Lola. I do know how you hate missing out. I suppose next time when I tell you to get out of bed and come with me you will.

  4. It feels like I have been there to drink that coffee with you :). Great article, that makes me consider a trip to Chicago just because of this coffee.

    1. If you like coffee, Ted, then I’d highly recommend it. I don’t know about their plain drip coffee, but the lattes are delicious.

  5. Fresh off of a visit to the Wormhole with Aaron, I am glad that you too had such a great experience there! I love the vibe of the place, the 80s posters etc. and – of course – the coffee. I got good ol’ latte and it was de-li-cious. Your pictures are beautiful too. The counter where they have sugar, napkins. etc. is super-cute.

    1. Are you trying to make me jealous? Did you see Honey Bear? How did he look? Did you tell him that I miss him dearly? Ohhh….my heart is breaking. 🙁

  6. Great pics Leah! Glad I introduced you to The Wormhole Coffee and Wicker Park. The Honey Bear is on my list of ones to get there down the road. Add the Vanila Bean Latte from there to your list too yum. When we left we should have just drank the other two drinks purchased while waiting at a certain place haha. 🙂

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