From Chaga lattes to vegan empanadas, Necessary & Sufficient Coffee (3624 W. Wrightwood Ave.) infuses something completely original and cozy in the flourishing Logan Square coffee scene.
Owner and cosmopolitan artist Kate Vrijmoet wanted to create a space for neighbors to connect and decided to open a grab ‘n go coffee shop with a little walk-up window this past October.
“When I found this space, that also houses my art studio, and read about its history, I understood that these two blocks of Wrightwood have always served the community since way back before Logan Square was part of Chicago,” said Vrijimoet. “I wanted to honor the deep history of the community as well as its current population with the space, the menu, and the products we offer.”
What to Drink at Necessary & Sufficient
From award-winning lattes to ethical coffee beans and gluten-free pastries, Necessary & Sufficient is demonstrating to the community that it is indeed necessary and beyond sufficient. The Chai latte and Close Female Friendships latte (beetroot latte with rose and vanilla) are some of their more popular lattes. The beetroot latte is comforting to drink and extremely flavorful, with subtle floral notes while reminiscing about the amazing female friendships you have in your life. And their oat milk is a perfect complement to these robust lattes.
The Forest Walk is their newest specialty latte with Chaga, Siberian ginseng, rose hips, and mint. Chaga is a mushroom recognized for its superfood and antioxidant qualities. It has versatile flavors making it a seamless pairing with coffee, chocolate and turmeric. The Chaga tastes earthy and is reminiscent of a matcha latte with a hint of sweetness. If you’re really needing that caffeine fix, try their Nitro Cold brew with its robust flavor stirring that inner nostalgia for those warm summer days that feel too far away from our present reality.
What to Eat at Necessary & Sufficient
If you’re hungry, the cafe has delicious savory and sweet vegan and gluten-free snacks and pastries. They work with Fig Catering for their scrumptious rotating selection of empanadas. Vrijimoet recommends their vegan mushroom and caramelized onion empanada for when you need that savory treat with your coffee.
In addition to having an impressive collection of toothsome empanadas, their baked goods are from Spoke and Bird Bakery. Vrijimoet has recently been working with You’re a Cookie, a woman-owned bakery specializing in the gluten-free cookies that are also insanely delicious, she said. The food menu has other new goodies, too.
“I’m also excited to start carrying gluten-free alfajorcitos, an Argentinian specialty made for us by Alfajorcitos Chicago, an independent, woman-owned specialty bakery,” she said. “In fact, many of the businesses I partner with are woman-owned: Collective Resource Compost, Clare Johnson at Himsben Design and Landscape, Fig Catering, Spoke and Bird, You’re a Cooking, Alfajorcitos Chicago.”
The Business Model
Clearly Necessary & Sufficient is extremely intentional about their business partners and caters to customers with many different dietary needs and tastes, which is crucial in this day and age. For Vrijimoet, her coffee shop is more than just a business or a way to make a profit. She cares deeply about the community and while Logan Square has plenty of innovative spaces and coffee shops, she felt that neighbors did not really have a way to connect.
“This is true to my soul because as an artist my work has always been about connecting people to each other and to themselves,” she said. So, I think of Necessary & Sufficient as a nourishing destination in more ways than one.”
While this community-focused coffee shop is possibly the smallest coffee shop in the area, they exude inclusivity. “We’ve tried to create an experience that welcomes all of our neighbors, supports women and minority-owned local businesses and leaves little footprint,” Vrijimoet said.
In a neighborhood that is rapidly gentrifying, safe spaces like these that are inclusive for people of color is highly needed.
They have bilingual menus in English and Spanish and a partnership with Friends of James Monroe to support children and educators. Necessary & Sufficient hosts fundraisers and give FOJM 100 percent of their profits from their fundraising events. They also have a partnership with Logan Square Neighborhood Association, which includes a summer internship program for local high school students. These students have the opportunity to learn innovative barista skills, affording them with the freedom to work wherever they would like while simultaneously making a living wage.
This coffee shop’s inclusivity doesn’t end with humans, though. They have a major focus on sustainability; they compost and recycle 99 percent of their products. According to Vrijimoet, they generate less than half a bag of trash each month. And their outdoor take-out window enables customers on bicycles or with dogs (or maybe both!) to easily order whatever they need.
Unfortunately, the winter has made things more challenging for this innovative coffee shop. Vrijimoet recognizes that it’s hard for Chicagoans to leave the warmth of their home to stop by but she promises that guests will leave with a “warm and cozy feeling inside” along with some heartwarming coffee and a treat for someone you care about. In spite of the cold weather, this newer coffee shop has been well received by the community.
“We have been embraced with enthusiasm from much of the community,” the owner said. “I am trying to learn about what the community wants and needs so that we can connect with a more diverse audience. We love this community and want to continue to see all community members included here.”
Vrijimoet emphasizes that everyone is welcome at Necessary & Sufficient because they are excited to meet you. “Stop in, say hello and add a little levity to your day.”