Newport Coffee House barrista Kajsa Vave RoundTable photo

One of Evanston’s newest coffee houses, the Newport Coffee House, recently won a Citation of Merit from the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The coffee house opened in 2019 at 622 Davis St.

The design of the coffee house by architect Josh Hutchison of the architecture firm 34-TEN, focused on providing a laboratory-like atmosphere, consistent with the business’s focus on the chemistry of coffee making.

The Citation of Merit mentioned that the design team “wanted to emphasize the owners’ Scandinavian heritage to

counterbalance the sterility inherent with the laboratory concept, accomplished by referencing Scandinavian design precedent.”    

While the straightforward layout of the previous restaurant tenant was retained, the ceiling was removed and the steel structure above is now exposed.  This allowed for  suspended lighting fixtures which include a custom designed wood frame with integral LED lighting that defines the coffee bar zone. The ceiling was painted white so that the lighting bounces off it, creating a soft lighting effect. The light wood and painted white surfaces of the coffee bar, tables and chairs contribute to the laboratory effect, while the lighting at the tables is elegant but subtle.

Jennifer Short, the shop manager, who has had nine years of experience in the coffee business, compared the experience of making a cup of coffee to a science experiment which includes weighing the beans and measuring the filtered water, and she emphasized the importance of the investment made in the equipment, and the aesthetics of the equipment itself.

As well as its roasted coffees, the Newport Coffee House offers pastries and other beverages.  It also serves eight flavors of gelato. The company’s certified organic coffee is roasted at its roastery in Bannockburn and their coffee is also available wholesale.

The Newport Coffee House also offers portable service for events and parties with its Espresso Bar on Wheels, a mobile cart equipped with Slayer Espresso machines, commercial grinders, and a water filtration system. 

In addition to carryout service, outdoor seating is available. Indoor seating, socially distanced for now, is available at alternate tables.

From its attractive logo, which combines the image of a coffee cup with the business’s initials, to the design of the interior space, this business has a distinctive look to complement what the owners call the “coffee experience.

“We call this coffee experience “fika”, a Swedish term meaning “coffee break,” often enjoyed with a small baked good. Fika, however, is so much more than that – it signifies a lifestyle of great coffee and great community.

The Newport Coffee House has brought both good design and great coffee to the Evanston community.


Ellen Galland has had an architectural practice in Evanston since 1983. For more than 20 years, she has written articles for the RoundTable, including the column “Ask An Architect" and "The Green Column"...