Ipsento 606

The silhouette of a coffee cup with a splash of coffee above it with the wording "Ipsento * * 606 * *" below it.Ipsento 606 is the second branch of Chicago veteran, Ipsento, which has been serving great coffee for 10 years now from its home on Western Avenue. Ipsento 606, in contrast, opened this summer and while just a few blocks away on Milwaukee Avenue, it takes its name from The 606, the elevated walkway which is just a few steps away from its front door.

Ipsento 606 is something of a rarity in American: coffee shop by day, cocktail bar by night. While this model has found a great deal of traction in the UK (think of Notes, Fernandez & Wells, Grind and Beany Green in London and the likes of Filter + Fox, The Attic and the Artigiano chain around the UK), I can only think of a few US examples (Philadelphia’s Double Knot springs to mind as an obvious example).

I can only speak to the coffee shop part of the operation, but anywhere with not one, but two Slayer espresso machines, plus a single-group Modbar dedicated to single-origin espresso must be doing something right! There’s also the obligatory bulk-brew, plus a range of single-origins on pour-over, all roasted in a dedicated facility just up the road.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Ispento 606, which opened this summer on Chicago's Milwaukee Avenue, next to The 606.
  • This, by the way, is the view of the side of the building from The 606. Impressive mural!
  • Stepping inside: the view from beside the counter looking back towards the recessed door...
  • ... while this is the view towards the back, counter on the left, more seating to the right.
  • Looking back to the front, there's a row of tables along the right-hand wall...
  • ... and, in the window, these benches. There's a coffee table in the other window.
  • Another view of the tables on the right-hand wall. There's another one on the left-hand wall.
  • The remaining seating is at the back, where you can sit at the interestingly-shaped counter.
  • The head on view of the counter/bar. I sat there and it was very comfortable.
  • Alternatively, opposite the counter is a window-bar with quite a view.
  • This is the inspirationally-named Park No. 567. And I thought I was bad at naming things...
  • The bridge is from a disused frieght railway which now carries The 606 over Milwaukee Ave.
  • Meanwhile the very much in-use Elevated Railway (the El) rumbles on just across Milwaukee.
  • Back inside Ipsento, there's plenty of merchandising and retail available.
  • Fancy an Ipsento-branded glass or travel cup?
  • The little ones have Aeropresses on them...
  • ... while the big ones are graced by Ipsento's roaster.
  • You can also buy bags of Ipsento's coffee to take home with you.
  • The lights above the counter fascinated me.
  • I particularly liked the way that the big ones curve around with the counter.
  • Obligatory close-up shot.
  • Ipsento is a coffee bar by day, cocktail bar by nigt, with two separate menus.
  • The opening hours are written on the door: what's not mentioned is switch-over time: 4pm.
  • The heart of the coffee operation: espresso (centre), pour-over (left), bulk-brew (right).
  • Ipsento has not one, but two Slayer espresso machines, right at the heart of the counter!
  • One of the Slayers in detail. I was told that in the morning both are in full flow.
  • Not content with two Slayers, there's also a single-group Modbar installation.
  • This is at the front of the counter and is used exclusively for the single-origin espresso.
  • There is also nitro cold brew on tap at the front of the counter next to the Modbar.
  • Behind the Modbar & nitro is the brew bar with its kettles & individual grinders (& an EK-43).
  • At the counter's other end, beyond the Slayers, is the bulk-brew set-up with its own EK-43.
  • After some confusion over what coffee was on, I was offered a glass of green to compensate.
  • My coffee, a shot of the house-blend, was beautifully presented when it arrived.
  • Ipsento also does a small range of cakes... And doughnuts!
  • What's in the box? My twitter followers already know the answer...
  • Doughnuts, of course! Six of each, a gift for the friends who I was staying with.
  • Naturally I had to do some quality control before handing them over!
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Ipsento 606 is named after The 606, a disused freight railway converted into a 2½ mile elevated green walkway that opened in the summer of 2015, Chicago’s answer to New York’s High Line, or Paris’ Promenade Plantée. The 606 has a handy exit  as it crosses Milwaukee Avenue, almost an invitation to pop down and visit Ipsento.

Coming up Milwaukee Avenue, Ipsento’s first on the right, just after the bridge carrying The 606 crosses the street. You can’t miss it thanks to the massive mural on the side wall. From the front, it’s almost as impressive, tall, wide and entirely clad in glass, two huge windows flanking a recessed glass door, the words “donuts”, “bar” and “coffee” writ large at the top. If that’s not an open invitation, I don’t know what is.

Ipsento feels really spacious, helped by the high, tinned ceiling. Facing south-west, it gets plenty of sun, while further windows at the back mean it never gets too gloomy. The well-spaced seating means there’s no sense of clutter. The recessed door forms two generous window bays: to the left there’s a coffee table, flanked by two benches, while to the right, two benches for an L-shaped. There are three high tables against the right-hand wall, a six-person one closest to the window, followed by two four-person ones. There’s a solitary four-person high table on the left. The rear of Ipsento houses the counter, a massive affair on the left-hand side, an interesting half-hexagon bulge mid-way along to accommodate the coffee service. The bugle has 10 bar-stools for your delight, surely the ideal location.

Opposite this, on the right-hand side, Ipsento opens out slightly, leaving room for a long-window bar with eight bar-stools, overlooking the interestingly-named Park No. 567 and The 606. The only downside is that while I was there, the windows were completely open, making it incredibly loud whenever a train went by on the elevated railway on the opposite side of Milwaukee Avenue (every couple of minutes).

Ipsento’s coffee operation is centred around twin Slayers on a square counter behind the hexagonal bulge. When I suggested this might be overkill (particularly considering the Modbar) I was told both are at full-steam in the morning! The remaining coffee operation is spread along the wall either side of the Slayers, hand-pour (left), bulk-brew (right). The Modbar, meanwhile, is down at the front of the counter, next to the Nitro cold-brew taps.

A word about the coffee service. Ipsento changes to a cocktail bar at four o’clock, at which point there’s only espresso-based drinks from the Slayers using the house-blend. Before that, the Modbar dispenses single-origin espresso, plus there’s bulk-brew and another three single-origins on pour-over, including the same single-origin that’s on the Modbar. The house-blend is seasonal, while the single-origins change every few weeks. There’s a small selection of cake and some excellent doughnuts. I had one of each: sugared and chocolate. Both were fairly substantial and not too sweet. In the evening, small plates are available with your cocktails.

I had a shot of the excellent house-blend espresso. It started smooth and well-balanced, but became more bitter, until the last sip, which had quite a kick. It was beautifully presented on wooden tray with glass of slightly sparkling water. Having arrived just after four there was some confusion over what coffee was being served, so I was given a glass of juice to compensate. Ipsento has juices on tap, all juiced on-site: mine was the 606 blend, shockingly green in colour, but really light and slightly-sparkling. Very refreshing, it was just what I needed after a day of drinking too much coffee!

1813 N MILWAUKEE AVENUE • CHICAGO • IL 60647 • USA
http://ipsento.com +1 872 206 8697
Monday 06:00 – 23:00 Roaster Ipsento (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 06:00 – 23:00 Seating Tables, Counter, Window Bar
Wednesday 06:00 – 23:00 Food Cakes, Donuts, Small Plates (Evenings)
Thursday 06:00 – 23:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 06:00 – 00:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 07:00 – 00:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 07:00 – 22:00 Power Yes
Chain Local Visits 13th October 2016

Sprudge has written an excellent piece on Ipsento 606, as well as a guide to various coffee shops located around The 606 (several of which will be appearing on the Coffee Spot in due course).


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