Coffee, donuts in abundance in Wicker Park

March 21, 2014 (CHICAGO)

It's all about the coffee at the newest La Colombe cafe, located directly beneath the tracks at the Damen stop on the Blue Line. Lattes and espressos are a given, but check out the geeky science lab behind the counter.

"It's called the Steam Punk, and it makes individual brewed cups of coffee the same way that you would see a siphon - with the Bunsen burner underneath and the cylinder on top - but this one uses steam so it's a little more gentle," said La Colombe's Kathryn Markham. "It allows us to find that balance in between the two - you want the body of the French press but we also want the flavor, the clean flavor of the pour over."

Pastries are all from Lincoln Park's Floriole bakery, and if they have the Basque cake in, get it.

Across the street, yet another satellite of the gourmet donut shop Glazed & Infused, which has a tiny take-out window on Damen, and directly across the street, a local version of L.A.'s venerable Stan's Donuts, launched here by local bread baker Rich Labriola.

"I like the donut business because anything that has yeast in it I feel like I'm very skilled at," said Labriola. "Because most donut shops are opened by pastry chefs not many are opened by bread bakers."

Labriola's "traditional" donut shop is stocked with familiar names like glazed and old fashioned, but he also emphasizes yeast-raised donuts.

"We mix the yeast-raised donut like a bread dough, we treat it like a bread dough and essentially it's a sweet bread dough," he said.

Stan's is known for peanut butter-filled versions, but Labriola also offers a Biscoff version with bananas.

"At our café in Oak Brook we make a gelato from it; it's got a real, kind of graham cracker-y, sugary, like a spread, like a Nutella, but it's made out of the cookies," said Labriola.

And if you're a fan of the gelato Labriola makes and sells at his café in Oak Brook, good news, because they're going to start selling it here at Stan's as soon as the weather gets warmer.

La Colombe
1552 N. Damen Ave.

Glazed & Infused
1576 N. Milwaukee (window is on Damen, behind Francesca's Forno)

Stan's Donuts & Coffee
1560 N. Damen Ave.
(773) 360-7386

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