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Opinion

Fall in Westmont marks changing of coffee, snacks menu

WESTMONT – While most folks love the smell of fresh brewed coffee, a large percentage enjoy drinking it even more, which makes coffee one of the top-5 beverages in America. From jump starting your mornings, to a relaxing accompaniment as you close the day with dessert, or the perfect beverage for your coffee house conversations, coffee has come a long way since the days of Mrs. Folger. It has also been a major subject for research funding over the years as we frequently read articles either extolling its virtues or condemning it as a vice.

In the “old” days, we knew autumn had begun by the start of school, the drop in temperatures and the leaves turning colors. Now we mark the changing of the calendar by the advertisements for Starbuck’s pumpkin spiced latte, and along with it, a host of autumn inspired beverages.

And while coffee and related fall beverages are readily available throughout Westmont and the surrounding area, I’ll highlight some of the more interesting destinations.

Brewed Awakening Cafe

Up early on National Coffee Day, Sept. 29, the glow of the "open" sign at Brewed Awakening beckons. Partners Sylvia Gennette and Craig Pro, together since acquisition in 2002, split the shifts which means Sylvia has been baking muffins and brewing coffee since 3:30am. The "open" sign is illuminated by 5 a.m. and on most week days, even earlier.

Upon entering, you feel like you’ve stepped back into time with the retro 60’s authentic, coffee house vibe. It’s warm and inviting with background music providing a peaceful as opposed to electrifying overlay. As I place my order, the early morning silence is broken by the muffin timer and moments later, the first horde of commuters. It’s a well-oiled machine with regulars greeted by name and drink and new-comers warmly welcomed.

The train schedule is prominently displayed on the wall and as the last of the morning trains departs, the clientele makes a subtle change to a more leisurely group of locals and regulars. There is a mandatory kiss from Sylvia for all babies in strollers as moms meet to catch up. Free WiFi has the computer crowd staking out their tables…but we’re here for coffee and muffins.

Cookies, pastries, scones and muffins are all lovingly baked in-house each morning by Sylvia. The peanut butter scone was light, flakey and exhibited the perfect balance of peanut butter chip flavor! But I always return to the muffin.

The muffins come in over a dozen flavors with daily favorites complimented by seasonal variety. While the top 3 include pistachio, cranberry-blueberry and blueberry, I’ve yet to indulge in one I didn’t like. Here the early bird gets the worm as the selection diminishes as the day moves on. Yes, you can pre-order large batches for office or home and there are also gluten free snacks available.

The muffins pair perfectly with Brewed Awakening’s beverage choices. Sylvia utilizes several local roasters and often will create new blends mixing various flavored and unflavored roasts into new combinations. A full service coffee house, there is a complete line of coffee and teas for purchase as an individual beverage or a pound to go. Lattes, pour overs, cold brew, iced tea, flavored syrups; they’re all here including many dairy alternatives such as soy, almond milk and others.

But autumn also brings out a few more choices as a gingerbread caramel latte and a white chocolate mocha make their seasonal appearance. Both express that great fall aroma with the gingerbread caramel latte really bringing back the memories. While these are both sweet choices, there is always the solid house brew to cleanse the palate.

Mid-morning brings Craig in to finish the day. As an artist, musician, poet and the artistic visionary, he has created a venue that regularly hosts various artists. The last Sunday of the month is reserved for poetry readings as supporting members of the Illinois State Poet’s Society. Craig’s resume includes lots of musical credits so Sunday’s might begin with 30 minutes of acoustics morphing into poets from throughout the state and occasionally abroad grabbing the mike.

Brewed Awakening is a great spot to grab a commuter cup of joe, meet your friends or enjoy supporting the arts. We continue our coffee search up the road at the newly renovated B. Patisserie & Café at the Oak Brook Hills Hilton .

B. Patisserie & Cafe

Set in the transition area from lobby to lounge to dining space, Executive Chef Sean Patrick Curry has chosen to partner with Columbia Street Roasters out of Champaign. Columbia partner John Herriott travels the world sourcing small batch coffee growers and establishes a strong loyalty as Columbia will pay well above market pricing. This allows small one acre growers to support their families and larger operations to better pay their employees often doubling local rates.

John and Sean explain the perfect coffee bean relies on 3 variables. The farm itself has a distinctive geographic location, soil and moisture conditions and staffing to allow harvesting at peak of ripeness. Next, the roaster (Columbia) must select a desired flavor profile and increase roasting temperature and duration to yield the desired product. Finally, the end-user (B Patisserie & Café) needs the correct process of filtration, grind, cleanliness and amount to fully develop the selected profile. It’s a complex process with the first variable accounting for the larger share of the formula but all three variables must align.

This is all part of Sean’s master plan for sustainability and transparency throughout the resort. Columbia utilizes Misericordia workers to assist in packaging further benefiting our community. As a hotel lobby location, B. opens early, so best pastry selection goes quickly. With small batch in-house baking, when they’re out, that’s it for the day, but they always have coffee and views.

All your favorites are here and with a state of the art water filtration and brewing system set-up by Columbia, perfection is assured. Coffees, teas, lattes, B. has them including a small selection of convenient breakfast sandwiches, juices, fruit and yogurt parfaits.

Grab a mocha, a cappuccino or a fresh brew, pick your pastry and head over to one of the seating areas with a great view of the golf course, water ways and gardens. We enjoyed a Signature B. Honey Cinnamon Scone which combined local honey from the resort’s own beehives (Chef Sean is a licensed bee-keeper) along with a hearty Mini Carrot Bran Breakfast Loaf. The mini loaf had several fall spices added to step up the flavor profile and both were fresh, moist and paired nicely with the mocha and cappuccino cutting the sweetness of the drinks and leaving a nice after taste. I grabbed a black coffee to go and enjoyed it equally.

Standard Market

The coffee bar at the Standard Market features coffee from various roasters including Counter Culture in Durham, NC. All dairy products are from Kalona Supernatural which sources from the Amish farms of Kalona, IA with most being organic also.

Grab your coffee to go, to shop or to sit in the Standard Grill. I mixed it up a bit and tried the Chaider. Chia spices, apple cider and cinnamon are combined in a hot beverage that explodes on your taste buds. This drink has a wonderful spice bouquet that adds to pleasure while slowly sipping. I also had the White Hot Chocolate which was finished with real whipped cream, a nice touch.

The Standard Market Bakery is right on-site and easily viewable. Pair your coffee or beverage with a fall cookie or an almond croissant among the many choices at the bakery counter.

Mariano’s

Westmont’s newest grocery store has a full Vero Coffee Bar and great seating area to both enjoy your coffee selection or full meal. They have also brought back several fall beverages choices.

If you’re a cider lover, Vero’s steamed version is a solid choice. There’s a great cinnamon apple flavor that does leave a bit of a sweet after taste. White Chocolate Mocha combines espresso, milk and white chocolate flavoring into a relaxing beverage. There’s even an Almond Joy which tastes similar to the candy bar.

Starbucks (Jewel)

Starbucks is the big player in the coffee game and the Jewel Grocery store at Ogden and Cass has a location inside. Starbucks has almost single-handedly created the fall buzz when they announce the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Many of their in-store locations have a nod to the local environment with maps, signage or phrases. This location also has several seating options, a Starbuck’s trademark.

In addition to the Pumpkin Spice Latte, Starbuck’s also rolls out the Salted Caramel Mocha and my favorite, the Chile Mocha. While all 3 are autumn beverages, the Chili Mocha has a bit of cayenne pepper which cuts through the sweetness and adds a new dimension to the flavor. I can now be found roaming the aisles at Jewel with a Chili Mocha in my hand.

Starbucks also brought out pumpkin cream cheese muffin for fall and it’s on par with the other food offerings at Starbucks.

Dunkin Donuts

Dunkin Donuts rolled out their fall selections which included a Pumpkin Latte which appeared short on flavor and a Dunkaccino which combined coffee and hot chocolate and had a nice, full flavor profile.

There are a few fall pastry specials with the Pumpkin Muffin being my favorite choice with a great topping mix. The Caramel Apple Square and the Peanut Butter Square were not something I’d return for.

Circle K and 7 - 11

Circle K has added hazelnut and harvest spice to their coffee choices. Along with a modern touch screen latte machine, there seems to be a thriving morning coffee business.

7-11 has brought pumpkin to their mix of coffees and when compared to the Circle K, there is a substantial price differential. Taste rules the day.

McDonalds and Thornton’s

Both McDonald’s and Thornton’s feature pumpkin spice lattes of similar size but at opposite ends of the pricing spectrum. McDonald’s is more expensive but is made individually while Thornton’s is a push button self-serve variety utilizing powdered mixes. Thornton’s adds an apple cider to the choices, McDonald’s counters with pumpkin and crème fried pies. You choose!

Great American Bagel

My favorite local destination for a bagel, Great American rolls out an ever changing line-up of flavored fall coffees.

Seasonally flavored coffees include Apple Crisp, Chocolate Raspberry, Cranberry Cream, Caramel Walnut Shortbread and more. There’s also hot chocolate and Chai tea combinations. Impressive to me on my last visit, one of the employees was conducting carafe inspections. Armed with a chef’s thermometer, all carafes under 160 degrees were removed for replenishing. Good to know.

Coffee is an extremely personal taste and with over 25 destinations for coffee in Westmont alone, there are plenty of options. Whether you enjoy the small town coffee house feel, the sustainable approach with fantastic views approach, coffee while you shop, a quick to go cup or a fall favorite, the choices are endless.

Mix it up and try a new destination. After all…Life is too short for bad coffee!

Brewed Awakening Cafe

19 West Quincy Street

Westmont, IL 60559

630-852-2233

M-F 5am-2pm, Sat 7am-2pm, Sun 8am-Noon

B Patisserie & Café at The HIlton

3500 Midwest Road

Westmont, IL 60559

630-850-5555

6:00am – 6:00pm daily

Standard Coffee

333 East Ogden Ave.

Westmont, IL 60559

630-366-7030

7:00am – 5:00pm Daily

Mariano’s

150 West 63rd Street

Westmont, IL 60559

630-964-2254

6:00am – 10:00pm daily

Starbuck’s (Jewel Osco)

4 East Ogden Ave.

Westmont, IL 60559

630-323-9885

6:00am – 8:00pm daily

Dunkin Donuts

121 West Ogden Ave.

Westmont, IL 60559

630-395-9698

3:30am – 10:00pm daily

Dunkin Donuts

19 West 63rd Street

Westmont, IL 60559

630-271-8261

24 Hours

Circle K

609 North Cass Ave.

Westmont, IL 60559

24 Hours

7 – 11

301 North Cass Ave.

Westmont, IL 60559

630-810-1542

24 Hours

McDonald’s

31 East 63rd Street

Westmont, IL 60559

630-968-3868

24 Hours

Thorntons

300 West 63rd Street

Westmont, IL 60559

630-493-9812

24 Hours

Great American Bagel

401 West Ogden Avenue

Westmont, IL 60559

630-963-9090

M-F 5:30am-7pm, Sa 6am-5pm, Su 6:30am-3pm

For more restaurant action, follow the @chitowndiner on Instagram.

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