The Essential Bakery store on Madison is one of the coffee shops I tend to frequent. In part because it is on my way to work so this turns out to be rather convenient. I am not implying that the coffee is not great and the only reason I visit the place is due to ease of access. Granted, there are a few other coffee shops I would probably go to instead all things being equal. I think my main issue with Essential is that of consistency.
There are some baristas you will find who make a really great latte, but then there a couple whose barista skills are nothing to write home about. One lady in particular, who is really nice, but only made a so-so latte stood out to me. What I first saw her she was being trained and it so happened that every time I got my latte, she is the one who pulled the espresso.
Fast forward about 4 weeks, I was at the shop for my usual after an absence of a while (I had stopped drinking coffee and was making proper tea in the office kitchen instead) and she was on hand to make my latte. Once again I am standing there dreading, but to my surprise, she actually made a good latte. Finally, the weeks of practice actually paid-off.
To be honest, I think they generally tend to make decent lattes. There is one chap who makes excellent lattes but I haven’t seen him in a while so I don’t know whether he is on a later shift or whether he left the bakery. Overall, I would say you cannot go wrong with Essential Bakery.
If you do like munchies with your coffee, the bakery has a ton of baked goods and bread. They also make crepes but I haven’t tried those yet.