caribouToss your Starbucks frequent sipper card, friends. There’s better coffee to be had and you can cozy up to it without stepping out of your bathrobe. Windy City natives may already be familiar with it, but for those of us who are slumming with nothing more than national chain java, I’d like to personally introduce you to some of the best coffee I’ve found north of the Caribbean: Caribou Coffee.

Not only is this coffee deeply rich and fabulously tasty, but there’s a host of other products – from snack bars to mints – that’ll give you a delicious zip in another form. I live far from Chicago, so I have to order mine online (www.cariboucoffee.com), but if you’re in their vicinity, you can even (gulp!) pop in and get a fresh cup midday.

coffeebarsMy husband and I go through this stuff like water and every time we stock up on pounds of grounds, there’s a nifty little surprise hidden at the bottom of the UPS box. Once it was sugar-free chai-tea “hoof mints,” another time, those delightfully sweet (and also available in your grocery store’s cereal aisle) chewy granola coffee bars (which, incidentally, are perfect for stashing in a carry-on). The baristas over at Caribou also toss in a free sample bag or two so you can discover your personal fave. My complaints? None. I love this stuff. I only wish there was a branch within walking distance. Then I’d really have a caffeine problem.