Hungry Hound: Taste of Colombia in Portage Park boasts pour-over coffee, hand-crafted pastries

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A lot of people take their morning cup of coffee for granted. But our Hungry Hound says after spending some time at a new coffee shop in Portage Park, he has a newfound appreciation for all of the work that goes into crafting the perfect cup.

What started out as a coffee roasting business has morphed into a full-fledged coffee shop, offering pour-overs, drip coffee and plenty of varieties of roasted whole beans.

They do everything in-house, including some pastries, with a retail counter about the size of a bedroom.

Five years ago, Taste of Colombia was just selling beans. Not just any beans, mind you - fair trade, organic ones from Guatemala, Ethiopia and Colombia. Steady sales led to the purchase of a coffee roaster.

"So we put money together, we buy the machine, and we have this place. When we have this place and we start roasting, all the neighbors start smelling the coffee and now they want coffee already made," said Naima Barajas, the owner.

Depending on the bean and the desired roast, it takes about 15 minutes to transform a batch from green to brown - or even black. The aroma is intoxicating, especially when they hit the cooling rack.

There is no espresso machine here, it's all pour-over.

That means you choose your beans, which are weighed, then poured into a grinder. Those grounds are then transferred to a coffee filter that's been wetted down already, set over a glass receptacle. As the hot water is poured over the grounds, your coffee emerges below.

To be honest, they don't really need sugar or cream. So please, taste it first before doctoring it up. This is coffee with acidity, fruitiness and complexity.

"First of all, we have coffee that is the best quality. Second is fresh-roasted. And then it's poured fresh and it's a personal drink," Barajas said.

You can get a Vietnamese drip, or even cold brew coffee.

Do save a little room for one of Barajas' pastries. She makes savory ground beef ones, swaddled in the flakiest of pastry, as well as Cuban-inspired pastelitos, jammed with guava and cheese.

Her "Senoritas" are also notable for their delicate layers of pastry, coconut and powdered sugar.

"So I have to practice and practice until I came out with my pastries, and now everybody's coming to look for the pastries," Barajas said.

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Taste of Colombia
4801 W. Montrose Ave.
773-709-7040
www.toccoffeeroaster.com
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