Best Coffee/Best Ambience: Kafein

Lauren Caruba , In Focus Editor

1621 Chicago Ave, (847) 491-1621 

With delicious late-night lattes and a unique atmosphere to match, it’s no surprise that Kafein swept two categories. Open later than most coffee shops, Kafein’s 2 to 3 a.m. closing time attracts both studying students and those looking to socialize. A laid-back attitude among the servers and clientele, along with couches and armchairs mixed in with the tables, invites customers to stay for a while. But it’s not just its hipster-cool environment that makes Kafein so popular — it has a creative selection of beverages to match. Items like the Funky Monkey latte, an expert mixture of banana and caramel, and the spicy Aztec Mocha put Starbucks to shame. Rich Americanos and perfectly crafted cappuccinos fit the bill for traditional coffee drinkers. And don’t get me started on their decadent milk shakes — the caramel chocolate one will satisfy your sweet tooth for a week. Although temporarily closed for renovations, Kafein should soon be the go-to spot for coffee addicts and night owls once again. — Lauren Caruba