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Zac's Coffee Quest: Safari Cup Coffee

4 and 1/2 stars out of 5

By Zac Schon
On April 20, 2011

The large windows in the front of this Southport corridor shop automatically show a different dynamic than the usual coffee shops I've reviewed, but despite the huge volumes of sunshine coming in, Safari Cup on 3404 N. Southport is still quite the cozy place.

Instead of having old furniture that could have came from someone's grandparents' throw-outs 20 years ago, Safari has leather couches that are quite plush; there is a row of round marble tables that line the outer wall, which sit underneath what appears to be African blankets. The remaining walls have African masks and other items from the continent. As someone who has been to a very small slice of Africa for non-vacation purposes, I can say that these are items that are usually sold at the markets and therefore evoke some merit as to not being a crude representation of the continent. To top off the visual atmosphere of Africa, there are small pieces of Irish pride in the store, since a signed rugby jersey sits in the restroom and the Irish flag sits in the front of the shop.

As a person who is particular with his coffee, Safari Cup Coffee puts out one of the boldest espresso roasts I've tasted since this holy quest has begun for the best shop on the Northside. Despite the fact I was drinking a latte, I could have sworn it was a cup of a roast darker than the midnight sky—and I, for one, was not complaining. The small, yellow roaster sitting in the middle of the room, complete with empty sacks that once held their miraculous beans, enhanced this experience.

Overall, Safari Cup Coffee is a pretty solid place. Super friendly staff, excellent coffee, unlimited/ free Internet, proximity to the El (right next to the Southport Brown line stop), and comfortable seating are all checked off in the positive column. The negatives would have to be the much-too-loud music and the hours—they close at 6 p.m.—making this establishment a no-go for dates or other night-time activities. Still, I give Safari Cup Coffee a rating of 4.5 cups, with the possibility to elevate to 5, if they extended their hours a little more into the later part of the day.

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