Finding The Write Place: Volumes Book Cafe


Volumes Book Cafe

1474 N Milwaukee Ave

Chicago, IL 60622


Mon-Sat 9:30AM – 10PM

Sun: 10AM – 8PM

(Hours subject to change. Check the cafe’s website for up-to-date info)

Noise level: Medium level of noise. People are talking in small groups and there are board games you can play, but there is no music playing in the background.

Availability of space: Good amount of tables present (about 5 low tables, 2 hi-top tables and a bar of seating). I went during lunchtime on a Saturday and had no problem finding seating.

Bathrooms: Yes.

Food: Yes, pastries.

Wifi: Free (password on each table).

Outlets: Yes, at the bar top along the wall.

I loved this cute cafe, but the thing I loved most by far was that it’s also a USED BOOKSHOP! The whole back section is a bookstore. They also have adorable bookish knickknacks for sale and a book subscription program! I definitely recommend this to any writer who likes to find new reads when they’re writing and doesn’t mind conversations happening around them. (I just wore headphones and I was perfectly fine!) I think this is my new favorite neighborhood cafe and bookstore in the Wicker Park area!



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Finding the Write Place: Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Finding the Write Place is an occasional series on that highlights some of our favorite places to write here in the Windy City.

Chicago Athletic Association Lobby

12 S Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60603
Open 24 hours, small bites menu & beverage service begins 11a.m. The Milk Room serves coffee and pastries beginning at 7a.m. that you can bring to your table.

(Hours subject to change. Check the hotel’s website for up-to-date info)

Noise level: Quiet in the morning, but fills up and gets noisier throughout the day and best for those who don’t mind activity around them or wearing headphones. Music generally unobtrusive and varies–seasonal, 80s, etc.

Availability of space: Wide variety of seating, again, more available during the morning hours. There is one library-style table with outlets that seats 10 as well as small round tables that seat 2 along the windows. Large chairs and sofas are grouped together throughout the lobby and seating by the three fireplaces is always popular. On a Sunday afternoon, three of us were able to find spots at the library table.

Bathrooms: Yes (but hard to find–ask the front desk or a member of the wait staff)

Food: Yes! There is a small bites and drinks menu. The hotel also has a number of places to eat–including a Shake Shack on the ground floor and the Game Room next door to the lobby that you can step away to.

Wifi: Free

Outlets: Yes at the long table and some along the walls by the small round deuce tables.

When you enter the hotel, head up the stairs on the right of the ground floor entrance and you’ll be transported to old Chicago as you arrive in the lobby of the hotel. I love writing at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. In fact, I wrote and revised a large chunk of my debut novel here. It’s perfect for folks who want to feel like they are writing in a Hogwarts common room or love a clubby feel amidst beautifully preserved gothic architecture. Also excellent for those who want to treat themselves to a cocktail after they hit the day’s word count.

Great for small groups or for solo writers . This is one of ChiYA’s favorite haunts. And the hotel holiday decoration game is on point (and excellent for selfies). They even serve glögg.

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Finding the Write Place: Everybody’s Coffee

Finding the Write Place is an occasional series on that highlights some of our favorite places to write here in the Windy City.

Everybody’s Coffee

935 W Wilson Ave
Chicago, IL 60640
Every Day: 7am – 5pm

(Hours subject to change. Please check the Everybody’s Coffee website for up-to-date hours.)

Noise level: Quiet. A great place to work.

Availability of space: There is plenty of space available.

Bathrooms: Yes

Food: Yes! Check out their delicious menu here.

Wifi: Free

Outlets: Yes

Everybody’s Coffee not only has plenty of space for patrons, they also have a theater available for events. The first time I was here was for an SCBWI event. Their theater has a projector and space for about sixty people (and you can bring food and drink in, which is awesome). As an avid tea drinker, I’m always happy to find a place with a good selection, as there was here.

This seems to be a great place for small groups, and they also have the capacity for large events. I know SCBWI-Illinois holds many of their events here, so clearly they have been happy with their experience!

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Finding the Write Place: Beermiscuous

Finding the Write Place is an occasional series on that highlights some of our favorite places to write here in the Windy City.



2812 N. Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60657
Monday – Thursday: 1:00pm – 11pm
Friday: 1:00pm – 12am
Saturday: 12:00pm – 12am
Sunday: 12:00pm – 8pm

(Hours subject to change. Please check the Beermiscuous website for up-to-date hours.)

Noise level: Before 2pm on weekends (and, I am told, before 6 or 7 on weekdays), it’s nearly deserted. After this time, there’s an influx of people who come to hang out, which brings with it a loud chatter. Throughout, the music is unobtrusive and tends toward funk and upbeat rock.

Availability of space: On a Saturday afternoon, busy but not overcrowded; I had no trouble finding a table that comfortably fit two laptops; there are also seats at the bar and upholstered chairs if you’re looking for a different work environment.

Bathrooms: Yes

Food: Yes (You can order directly through the bar for a Gino’s East pizza, or can bring in your own food. There’s a torta place just down the street, and if you’re willing to walk about six blocks you’ll find tacos, a brunch spot with wraps/sandwiches/waffles, and a funky Korean restaurant.)

Wifi: Free with social media sign-in, or you’ll have good connectivity to xfinity wifi if you get your internet from Comcast.

Outlets: Some (several booths have them, as does the fireplace/armchair feature).

Located on the southern edge of Lakeview, Beermiscuous is a fun place to work on weekends if you focus better with significant ambient noise—especially if you want to work past 5 p.m., when many coffee shops close. It’ll be quieter earlier in the day/on weekdays if you prefer a more traditional coffee shop feel. Inspired by classic european coffee houses, this is a place where groups of friends like to gather to catch up or play board games, but you’ll also find some individuals and pairs working at laptops or reading.

The bar has a rotating selection of 16 taps, plus more than 350 beers available in bottles/cans. If you’re indecisive, you can build your own flight from the tapped beers, and there are also non-alcoholic beverage options if you’re under 21 or prefer not to imbibe.

The bar staff is super friendly and knowledgeable, and thanks to the coffee shop vibe you won’t feel guilty for lingering. This is a great place if you’re more of a night owl, like ambient noise (or have good headphones), and want a laid-back spot with excellent craft beer options.


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Finding the Write Place: Kitchen Sink

Finding the Write Place is an occasional series on that highlights some of our favorite places to write here in the Windy City.


1107 W. Berwyn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640
Monday-Friday: 6:30am – 5pm
Weekends: 7:30am – 5pm

(Hours subject to change. Please check the Kitchen Sink website for up-to-date hours.)

Noise level: quiet (most people working/studying alone or with one other person)

Availability of space: moderately crowded (it’s a small space, but I’ve always found a seat)

Bathrooms: yes

Food: yes (breakfast and lunch menus with vegetarian options, plus pastries)

Wifi: free with password

Outlets: some (along the walls)

Kitchen Sink is a cozy neighborhood cafe in Edgewater, just steps from the Berwyn Red Line stop. It’s a great place to grab coffee or a light, healthy lunch and get some work done. They also serve breakfast and pastries all day. The food is fresh and creative, with plenty of options for everyone. In summer, you can soak up the sunshine at outdoor tables, and in winter, a skylight keeps the back of the shop nice and bright. The music, which tends toward acoustic folk, is set low enough that it’s not intrusive.

Kitchen Sink has a fairly small seating area and most people seem to go there to work, so I wouldn’t recommend it for large groups. However, with its quiet, cozy atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to sit and write for a few hours alone or with a friend.

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Finding the Write Place: Big Shoulders Coffee

Finding the Write Place is an occasional series on that highlights some of our favorite places to write here in the Windy City.

Big Shoulders Coffee

1105 W Chicago Ave

Chicago, IL 60642

Monday-Friday: 6:00am – 7:00pm

Saturday-Sunday 7:30-5:00pm

(hours posted as of October 2016, check Big Shoulders Coffee’s site for up-to-date hours)

Noise level: moderate-conversations,  music

Availability of space: I always get a seat (I usually go on Sundays)

Bathrooms: yes (with key)

Food: yes (pastries and cookies)

Wifi: free with password

Outlets: YES! (by the counter as well as under the main table)

Big Shoulders Coffee is cute and simple in terms of coffee shops. It is right outside the Chicago/Milwaukee Blue Line stop, and on the route for the 56 and 66 bus lines. So it’s in a fairly accessible location for anyone in the West Town area.

I love going there when I want to hunker down and work, though sometimes there are groups chatting or doing a project together. The space is limited, but many people come in to get their coffee on the way to and from the train.

They also sell their own brand of merchandise and coffee. I actually covet their thermoses (I’ve yet to try their Big Shoulders Coffee beans).

It’s a nice, small coffee shop to visit to do work, but not the best for large groups.

Finding the Write Place: Sawada Coffee

Finding the Write Place is an occasional series on that highlights some of our favorite places to write here in the Windy City.

Sawada Coffee

112 N Green St
Chicago, IL, 60607

Monday-Sunday: 8:00am – 5:00pm

(hours posted as of October 2016, check Sawada’s site for up-to-date hours)

Noise level: moderate-high-conversations, sound of clatter from bar, music

Availability of space: Dependent on day (I went on a Sunday, it was full with a few empty seats still)

Bathrooms: yes

Food: yes (pastries, also connected to Green Street Meats)

Wifi: free with password

Outlets: YES! (there are wall outlets at the seats along the window and hanging outlets in the center of the main table!)

Sawada coffee is a fun,small coffee shop directly attached to Green Street Meats (a must-visit if you love BBQ). And by “directly” I mean directly attached. It’s open to the GSM space, so all the noise and music and delicious smells waft over from the BBQ place.

img_20161023_130225 That being said, it’s a very fun place to have a coffee and write if you don’t mind noise. There is always music playing and depending on who has control of the GSM iPod it varies. Sometimes I go there and it’s classic rock, sometimes it’s country, sometimes it’s the Beatles, sometimes it’s indie-alt pop. I don’t mind since I am good with ambient noise, but if you’re a person who needs quiet when you write, then this place is probably not for you.

The chairs are a bit harder than I’d like for a long writing session. The ones by the window have padding and a back, but the ones at the middle table (a reclaimed ping-pong table, complete with removable divider) has hard wooden stools bolted into the floor so you can’t move them. If you want to take your coffee and sit at the long picnic benches in the main space of Green Street Meats, then that’s totally allowed.

It’s a nice place for groups, so if you have a writing group that wants to meet up on a Sunday afternoon, then definitely try out Sawada/Green Street Meats because there’s plenty of space.

I’d suggest this place for writers who don’t mind noise, want a joint eating/writing session, or writing groups to meet up for critique or hang out sessions.


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