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The Brits Bring Their Coffee Know-How to New Lakeview Shop

Department of Coffee and Social Affairs is the chain’s first location outside England

Department of Coffee and Social Affairs’ exterior at 800 W. Diversey Parkway.
Barry Brecheisen

Fans of a good cup of British coffee — and yes, the Brits do drink coffee as well as tea — can finally celebrate: Department of Coffee and Social Affairs opens today in Lakeview at 800 W. Diversey Parkway. Ownership plans to go full-steamer ahead by Thursday.

This is the 15th store for the British chain, and the first one outside of England — its other locations are in London, Bristol and Manchester. Its CEO is a familiar with the area. He’s a native of Elgin, so there are some local roots that helped Chicago land the shop. The chain’s first location opened in 2010 at the Leather Lane Market and helped turn the spot into a mecca of sorts for Brits looking for a serious coffee purveyors.

This location, on the corner of Halsted and Diversey, should provide an easy stop for those heading to the Brown Line on their way to work. The star here is the single-origin espresso beans, of which the cafe will have three varieties available every day. Currently, find a light-bodied Ethiopian espresso that offers notes of blueberry, and a fuller-bodied Kenyan variety that offers citrusy notes. The third option will be a decaf variety.

The shop will also offer a drip coffee that is roasted locally — Department of Coffee works in coordination with Metropolis Coffee Company in Chicago. Its coffee menu is rounded out with macchiatos, piccolos, cortados, a flat white, and hot chocolate.

At the counter, commuters who need a little nosh can grab pastries made by Andersonville’s pHlour Bakery. The selection includes a variety of Danish and sweet and savory croissants.

The space itself is spare, but homey. There are two easy chairs near the back, scattered books, reclaimed wood tables, and an exposed brick wall. A window counter offers a few electrical outlets for those who want to take advantage of the free wifi and pop-open their laptop. Take a photo tour below, and locals can now check out the coffee chain in the states for the first time.

Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, 800 W. Diversey Parkway, no phone yet, open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

The front counter has good lighting and overlooks the street.
The counter area is funky and minimalist and includes a chalkboard menu.
The seating area is bright with modern metal chairs and wood-topped tables.
Exposed brick leads to the rear of the space.
Two cushy armchairs sit on a woven rug with a table in between in the rear of the space.
The chalkboard menu includes daily espressos made with single-origin beans.
One of the coffee drinks.
Beans are also available to go.

Department of Coffee and Social Affairs

800 W. Diversey Parkway, Chicago, IL 60614 Visit Website