Espression by Lavazza

Overall Rating: 6.700

Address: 140 E Walton Pl.
Cross Street(s): Michigan Ave., next to The Drake Hotel
City, State ZIP: Chicago, IL 60611
Neighborhood: Gold Coast
Phone: 312.640.2440
Hours: M-Th 6am-9pm; F-Sa 6am-10pm; Su 6am-9pm
Type of Establishment: Espresso Bar (Chain)
Cafe Rating: 7.00
Barista: 6
Savvy: 7
Ambiance: 7
Presentation: 8
Consistency: Consistent
Espresso Machine: Faema
Coffee Rating: 6.40
Aroma: 7
Body: 6
Brightness: 6
Crema: 6
Flavor: 6
Taster's Correction: 1.0
Size: L
Primary Taste: Pungent
Coffee Beans: Lavazza
Cup Manufacturer: IPA
Price: $2.75
Last Update: 12/26/2015
First Reviewed: 12/22/2009
Notes: Coffee Sales; Coffee Accessory Sales

When we first encountered this chain café on Via Garibaldi in Torino, Italy, we had no idea how few of them exist. For one, it was the only one in Italy. For another, there's only about a dozen in the world. But oddly there are four in Chicago - three more than any other city. This one is located next door to the elegant Drake Hotel. It is a modern café vehicle for promoting Lavazza coffee, down to the Lavazza retailing and the modern photographic artwork on the walls suggestive of their annual commercial art calendar. It's a spacious and modern café that also offers a number of edibles. The not-very-competent barista serves espresso shots from a three-group Faema Stylema, and the resulting cup is a bit tall with a thinning medium brown, even crema. It's a little thin-bodied and on the stale side: the herbal Lavazza flavor here is more residual and subdued than anything up front on your taste buds. However, they do exhibit rather decent milk frothing and microfoam, which is better than the brewing standards here. We would recommend the cappuccino over the espresso here, but only if you like it immensely milky like a caffè latte. Curiously enough, the receipt here for our cappuccino once said "no flavor" on it. We surmised that was a statement about the lack of syrupy additives, but the alternate interpretation of the phrase isn't too far off.