Newport Coffee House opens on Davis Street


Zoe Malin/Daily Senior Staffer

Newport Coffee House. The space was designed in the Swedish minimalist style.

Sam Heller, Reporter

Newport Coffee House, a family-owned coffee shop based out of Bannockburn, Illinois, opened its second location on Davis Street this summer, transforming Cheesie’s old home into a high-end cafe with a Swedish twist.

After six months of renovation, Newport opened its doors at 622 Davis St. on July 1., joining a crowded market of coffee shops in town. Co-owner and founder Mikael Bengtsson said the cafe brews its own coffee, using fresh beans and “the best equipment money can buy.”

“We try to do the best in every process spot along the way, from roasting to the final steps,” he said.

Bengtsson and his wife are from Sweden, and they’ve tried to incorporate their culture in the food and the space, serving up some Swedish pastries in the shop as well. While he originally wanted to focus on coffee, Bengtsson said he wanted to create an inviting space for students and Evanston residents, even if they don’t drink coffee.

Newport Coffee House has been open since 1992, roasting fresh coffee daily. Bengtsson and his wife Lotta recently acquired the company, and have since expanded to Evanston.They create more than 10 different blends of coffee, ranging from Mexican, a medium roast with a sweet and chocolate taste, to Ethiopian Sidamo, a spicy blend with a sweet citrus kick. All of their blends are sold in bags at the Evanston location.

Bengtsson said he and his wife select beans from all around the world, ranging from South America to Africa. The Bengtssons know each of the farmers they source beans from by name and only buy fair trade and organically, said Evanston store manager Madeline Devries.

In addition to coffee, the look, ambience, food and staff also make the coffee shop “work,” Bengtsson said. He based the store’s design off of a Swedish minimalist style. The floorplan is completely open with simple decorations. With pristine white walls, lights and tables, the design creates a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere, he said.

Beyond the physical space, Devries said the owners work to foster a friendly and welcoming environment for customers as well as their employees.

“It’s like working at a spa mixed with a coffee shop,” Devries said. “It’s zen and peaceful, even when it is busy.”

The building previously hosted Cheesie’s. which was a relatively dark place, said Annie Coakley, the executive director of Downtown Evanston.

She added that the storefront is welcoming from the street with a large glass window and bright interior, especially compared to the grilled cheese shop.

“The change in the place is night and day,” Coakley said. “The new shop is super inviting and super clean.”

It’s been a big year for coffee lovers in Evanston — Colectivo Coffee opened in November 2018, Philz Coffee announced a new location on Davis Street in March, and other favorites, like Unicorn Cafe and Coffee Lab, continue to draw students and residents. But Coakley said Newport stands apart for its high-end equipment, unique blends and Swedish pastries.

“We’re really excited to be in Evanston,” Bengtsson said. “We could have an edge that is a little bit different than the other places here.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @samheller5