Walking into downtown Evanston, you can’t miss the town’s brand new edition. At the corner of Church and Sherman, a majestic and hip new coffee shop sits in all its glory, complete with floor to ceiling shiny glass windows, rustic red awnings and blazing red neon letters that say “COLECTIVO COFFEE."
With origins in Milwaukee, Colectivo Coffee brought its fresh, hand-roasted, local coffee beans to Chicago back in 2017. Since then, it has opened four locations in the city and decided open its doors to Evanston two years ago. On Thursday, Nov. 15th, Colectivo had a soft open where they handed out free beverages and snacks to whoever came in. On Friday, they cut the ribbon.
The 2,600 square-foot interior of Colectivo couldn’t look more different from the building’s old, colorless tenant, Radio Shack. Tropical, broad leaved plants are scattered and hung around the vast, open cafe. A walnut-colored wooden table that sits a dozen coffee drinkers stretches proudly across the floor, and has a perfect view of the coffee bar that is complete with stainless steel appliances and pops of color from tea bags and coffee syrups.
Drinkwise, Colectivo has a varied menu. The shop has every kind of dairy and non-dairy milk imaginable (hello oat milk!) and features both cafe classics and less traditional selections, including a cold brew horchata, matcha latte and turmeric ginger chai latte. They also serve blended drinks.
On the food side, the same menu is served all day. Yes, that means breakfast from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. There are brunch-inspired items on the menu, as well as sandwiches, wraps and a kids’ section for those of you who haven’t moved on from the classic PB&J or grilled cheese.
Jeff Scott Sopko, Colectivo’s new regional area manager, says that the company wanted to open a shop in Evanston because it always scouts cities that embrace their surroundings. Evanston has a diverse population, and Colectivo wanted to become a part of the community, Sopko said.
“We’re a come one, come all kind of place,” Sopko said.
There is already a laundry list of coffee shops in walking distance from Northwestern’s campus. You might have gotten a taste of Colectivo without knowing it, because a block north of the new shop, student favorite Unicorn Cafe serves coffee from Colectivo. However, Colectivo believes it has something new to offer, besides high-quality locally sourced coffee and ingredients: The cafe wants to spread “good juju” to Evanston and become a “positive safe space” for its residents, Sopko said.
“We’re not trying to be the cool guys – we’re trying to be the nice guys,” Sopko said.
When opening Colectivo, Sopko said the team’s vision was that the space would have a positive, lively tone instead of a “library-feel" that some other coffee shops have. Catchy coffee shop tunes constantly liven up the atmosphere, and the baristas and managers strive to create a versatile environment where people can comfortably work, but have fun and do more than just fuel the grind.
The PR team is making an effort to learn about Evanston’s culture and how to coordinate it into the cafe’s operations. They want to get people involved in Colectivo’s brand. To do this, Colectivo gets involved by doing community events like catering a hot chocolate pop-up at Evanston’s tree lighting and hosting a small business tour. Colectivo’s mission statement is that everyone is a customer, even the people who work there.
Veteran barista Layla Tahmassevi is beyond excited to start working at Evanston’s beautiful new coffee shop.
“I just like interacting with the community and meeting new people,” said Tahmassevi.
Sarah Frasco, Colectivo’s communications coordinator, believes that the company’s mission extends far beyond the windows of 716 Church Street.
“Colectivo’s all about community,” said Frasco. “Each shop has its own personality and culture.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled Jeff Sopko’s last name as “Sapko.” NBN regrets the error.