Gaslight Coffee Roasters is the latest entrant near Milwaukee Ave in Logan Square, the street that is slowly becoming a coffee mecca for Chicago. I finally got around to visiting it on a dreary Sunday in January, right around the time the weather decided to shit both snow and sleet intermittently on my walk up Humboldt Blvd. Thankfully, Gaslight sits comfortably at Fullerton and Milwaukee, so the sticky ice didn’t have long to cling unwanted atop my mop of hair.
Seated at this pointed corner of the intersection permits Gaslight to receive a welcome bloom of natural light along its wall of glass. This draws you into the open, breathable spacing of tables and coffee bar — enough to detract you from mistaking the place for a prohibition-era speakeasy. Gaslight’s stark, brick-on-wood aesthetic with sparingly hung taxidermy reinforces a notion of both minimalism and straight business -- the baristas here aren't screwing around, and neither is their coffee. Without the slightest whiff of pretentious1 bullshit (leave that to Cafe Mustache, a stone's throw south), the staff bustles behind the horseshoe-shaped coffee bar: ringing at the iPad register, scurrying to-go cups to commuters, channeling the Strada espresso machine, measuring freshly roasted beans into brown bags, shuttling plates of charcuterie, holstering readily accessible smiles. You get it. And all the while they bustle, crooning tunes waft over the place from an LP spinner in the far corner.
But let's not get distracted. I came here to buy beans. Freshly roasted beans. For the last few months, I'd been getting my fill from Tonx (specialty roasters with an online-only business that ships out bi-weekly, single origin beans to subscribers), but I was right on the edge of my next shipment, so I needed a fix. Zak Rye (former Metropolis roaster) and Tristan Coulter's new coffee shop seemed like a good enough answer. And so I took the bait.
All of Gaslight's beans are roasted in the back of the space, and come from a few different origins: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Rwanda. Not sure if these will rotate throughout the year, but as of January 2013, this is it. The rear roasting space is appararently communal, as the beans also get used by Wormhole, which is located much father down Milwaukee just south of North Ave in Wicker Park. I like Wormhole, and I already dig the new Gaslight. Let's support these local players with a purchase, shall we?
You pay $15 for a 12oz bag. This is standard fare for anything above the oily shit Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts stuff into retail packaging. It's even less expensive than the slightly inflated Tonx, so I have no problem paying this for locally roasted beans. To reinforce buyer's satisfaction, the packaging is beautifully done up in brown paper, sealed with an office-grade paper binder, and decorated with an insignia-pressed wax badge.2
Fighting the elements back home, I fired up the kettle with 340g of water and coarse-ground 25g of the newly acquired Guatemalan coffee. Figured the best way to try this new batch was with a pour-over method (in this case a Chemex), so that's exactly how I did it.
And it was delicious.
Since my nose is always stuffy, I can't rightly claim to detect the nuances of flavor like some self-aggrandizing connoisseur, but of what I could discern: pleasant hints of nut and wood, neither of which took a backseat to an unsuspecting cocoa veil. This is really good coffee, such that I could easily live off this for my evening cup. I'll no doubt return to Gaslight Coffee Roasters on more occasion than this (and ideally in less deplorable weather). And if you know what’s good for you, your health, your metabolism, your libido, and your sanity, you'll do the same.
- Location: Gaslight Coffee Roasters, 2385 North Milwaukee Avenue, at Fullerton Avenue
- Site: Gaslight Coffee Roasters
- Aren't too pretentious, either. As stated in an interview with the owners on DailyCandy, Zak reinforces this notion: "We’ll do whatever customers want: pour over, siphon, cowboy coffee. You want a shot of espresso in a bowl of soup? Done." If only they served soup. ↩
- I suppose at this point I should share one last thing about presentation -- they wrap scarves around their Chemex beakers (or perhaps these are beakers topped with V60s, I can't rightly say). Quite pointless, aside from probably keeping the brewed coffee a degree warmer during the cold months. Gaslight takes presentation and detail seriously, and so we must commend their efforts. ↩