Local Cafes Do More Than Just Sell Coffee


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By Sarah Fischer

I speak for most of the millennial generation when I say we love coffee — and we all appreciate a good, local cafe that prides itself in standing out among the numerous chains scattered throughout the country. A local cafe can have great appeal, especially in a town like DeKalb where, according to DataUsa Inc., the average age is 24-25 and NIU enrollment being close to 20,000 students.

Community shops like these can offer so much to the average young adult, especially those who are looking for something other than the typical corporate coffee scene. They provide a space for people to study quietly in a comfortable environment, where lines aren’t forming out the door, or just to enjoy a bit of local entertainment.


Fortunately, there are a few places like this in the DeKalb area offering just that — and the best part is, these shops give back to their community in many ways.


Common Grounds Coffee Shop

131 E. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb, IL 60115

Common Grounds is a shop in the downtown DeKalb area that’s well-known for its pleasant atmosphere and comfortable study area. The shop has several drink options on their menu and sells bags of coffee beans as well. The books that line the walls on shelves are all for sale at a discounted rate, both new and used, and some are even available for free on shelves outside.

One way they give back to the community is by donation. 50 percent of their book sales go to support the Set Free Movement, which is a movement dedicated to ending human trafficking. 15 percent of local art goes to Safe Passage in DeKalb, a domestic violence and sexual abuse agency and shelter.


The House Café

263 E. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb, IL 60115

The House Café’s location is close to Common Grounds in the downtown DeKalb area. They have small breakfast and lunch menus but also offer big opportunities for locals to promote their art. When you enter the cafe, you will see the entire right wall set up like an art gallery. Paintings of all different sizes hang on the wall and along the pillars of the cafe. Each work of art is for sale, and the proceeds go to support the artist.

The House Café also provides great entertainment for residents by acting as a venue and supporting local musicians. From Thursday to Sunday, you can buy tickets to a performance, giving local bands a chance to get their names out around town.



204 Somonauk St., Sycamore, IL 60178

Shawn’s is a small cafe located on the corner of Somonauk Street and Elm Street in downtown Sycamore. They have plenty of food and drink options, including coffee specials, smoothies and comfort food.The atmosphere is quiet and friendly, and the small inside resembles a diner with tables near large windows. Additionally, they offer outside seating as well. Shawn’s also supports local artists by selling their art. Each framed piece is on display and for sale. Shawn’s supports local businesses in the DeKalb/Sycamore area by advertising them on a large cork board, on which you will see a plethora of flyers and business cards for many professional needs. Whether you’re stopping in for a simple cup of coffee and sandwich or need a quiet area to study, you’ll find that Shawn’s meets your needs all while serving the local artistic community.