Everybody deserves great coffee. There’s no arguing that. Everybody’s Coffee, snuggled near Uptown Chicago’s bustling Sheridan Road, and breezy Lake Michigan herself, makes it their mission to ensure everyone feels welcome in their space while getting the great coffee they deserve. “Filter Coffee, Not People” regalia unashamedly adorns the walls and counters. A bowl of buttons reading “Everyone is Welcome” sits near the register. You may have seen the Everybody's bicycle-driven coffee cart out and about town or at the Argyle Night Market held in the summer. And what may be the most special part of the cafe is a wooden plaque hanging near the door. Its purpose is simple: to share the love of coffee with those who are not able to obtain it for themselves.
The “Share the Coffee Love” board has been running just as long as the cafe has, a lively five years. Having an accessible way to encourage others to give back to the Uptown community was a priority for the cafe from the start. Patrons will simply order a drink to have written on the tiny tag and hang it on a nail to be claimed. The tags are cute and humorous: one reads “8oz Coffee for a Mom” and another, “Free Coffee for Someone Who Uses Reusable Bags!” This past holiday, a regular purchased $100 worth of drinks for the community. Rich Troche, one of the company’s founders, even offered a hand in writing out the many tags of espressos, cortados, coffees, what have you. The giving doesn't stop at the customers, either—baristas are also given the option to donate their shift drinks to share the love. Anything goes when sharing coffee love.
Troche is one of the shop's four founders, each of whom shares a common vision to cement connection with the Uptown community and encourage everyone, from the baristas to the regulars, to give back to and take care of those around them. When the company began roasting offsite this past year, they did not hesitate to share the proceeds with their neighbor, Cornerstone Community Outreach (CCO), a non-profit organization that assists in finding housing and living necessities for individuals and families in need. In 2018 alone, CCO was able to accommodate over 300 homeless persons within their facilities and permanently house 27 families and 28 individuals. CCO also provides food for the hungry, specialized care for the elderly, and living necessities to low-income and/or unsheltered families.
“Because of CCO’s decades of dedication and the vast numbers of people whose lives have been changed by the services offered there, Everybody’s has partnered with them in their ventures,” says Troche. “Last year, we began to donate all proceeds from our hand (manual) brewed coffee, and this year we added on a donation for every pound of coffee we roast. This way proceeds from the cafe and roaster go straight back to Uptown. The more coffee we roast, the more we are able to support our neighbors in need.”
Everybody’s is also the street-level face of the Wilson Abbey, an auditorium that works to host events with schools, churches, and businesses in Uptown and its surrounding neighborhoods. Down the hall are two event spaces, a large concert hall, and a black box. Among the organizations that use the Abbey are the Uptown Baptist Church, neighbor to the Abbey, and Women and Children First, a feminist bookstore. Coffee events are no stranger here, either, of course. In conjunction with the New Gotham Coffee Community, Everybody’s held The Great Lakes Coffee Showcase a few years in a row. In 2017, the Midwest Regional AeroPress Championship was also held here. Weaving Everybody’s into the constant flow of cultural events helps keep them connected to the heart of the Chicago community, even all the way Uptown.
At the time of writing, Everybody's was showcasing a collection of self-portraits by the Uplift Community High School. There’s no shortage of books signings, live music, and local artist events. Local writers' groups, parenting clubs, and board game meetups consider this cafe the ideal spot. There is a seat here for everyone and a cup of coffee hanging on the wall for someone who needs some warmth in the chilly Midwest. Everybody’s Coffee walks the walk of a safe space where humans can connect in one of Chicago’s most diverse neighborhoods.
Casey Chartier-Vignapiano is a freelance journalist and coffee professional in Chicago. This is Casey Chartier-Vignapiano's first feature for Sprudge.
Photos by Eric Perez for Sprudge