North Loop Destination: Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea

Espressos, teas, cold brews, and elixirs mean there’s something for everyone at North Loop’s new coffee and tea café


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Power Flower Milk Tea (left) and iced caramel latte (right), Photo by katie Ballalatak

Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea in North Loop opened on July 14, and according to James Sapp, the multi-unit general manager of Fairgrounds, it’s been busy.

It’s easy to see why—walking into Fairgrounds is like walking into, well, a fair. Without the games and rides, of course, but with the same brightness and excitement we all loved as kids. The blue-and-yellow accented color scheme, the very Instagramable lit-up “F” above the coffee station, the unique industrial light fixtures, and the plentiful greenery make the space feel alive and inviting. My first thought when I stepped it? “Oh, I want to spend all my time here.” Dangerous for my bank account, true nonetheless.

Owner Michael Schultz’s idea for Fairgrounds is simple: Why serve one kind of coffee when you can serve several? And why not give coffee and tea equal weight?

With this mission, Fairgrounds offers a rotating selection of roasters, including locals Spyhouse and Dogwood. On tap, you can try different cold brews and kombuchas. For tea, Fairgrounds offers two types of matcha and a selection of loose-leaf and bagged teas.

Their pour-over coffee system is impressive, and you don’t have to endure a super long process for it, either. “It’s about a three-minute wait,” Sapp says. While I waited for my own beverage (an iced caramel latte, with a single-origin espresso and chocolate notes, as recommended by Sapp), I noticed that the other three girls waiting for their coffee were not sitting on stools at the bar—they were swaying back and forth on cute little swings, talking and waiting for their beverages.

What makes Fairgrounds especially unique, Sapp says, is their elixirs, which are both coffee- and tea-based. I tried Sapp's Power Flower Milk Tea (matcha, jasmine butterfly pea flower tea with jasmine simple syrup and choice of whole or coconut milk), and it was just as smooth, pleasant, and aesthetically pleasing as it sounds.

Other elixirs include Vietnamese Cold Brew (condensed milk with cold brew on draft), Jungle Juice (mango, turmeric mango tea, saffron, and cayenne pepper), and their own take on the Old Fashioned (espresso, walnut bitters, orange peel, and simple syrup), called Grandpa Irv’s. “Grandpa Irv’s is important to our CEO [Schultz],” said Sapp, adding that the blue accents around the coffee shop (stripes on the wall, and the color of their disposable cups) commemorate his grandpa’s old light blue car.

Besides coffee and tea, Fairgrounds has a breakfast and lunch menu with items including rice bowls, breakfast sandwiches, and salads.

North Loop is Fairgrounds’ third location and the first one outside of Chicago. Next week, Fairgrounds will open their first café in downtown L.A., too.

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