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Our Story

Welcome! We're Backlot Coffee, an independently owned, specialty coffee company with three unique cafes and a roastery - all located in the Chicagoland area.

John Kim and Isaac Bloom founded Backlot Coffee in 2016. John moved to Evanston in 1996, and has opened 6 hospitality businesses in Evanston over the past 20 years. John and his wife Dana have three kids in D65, and two of their oldest will be attending ETHS in the fall and will join the graduating class of 2028. Isaac grew up on Howard Street, and attended JRC in Evanston. Isaac and his wife Jessie have one son and they live in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago. Both Isaac and John love Evanston and the vibrant community on Central Street.

On the north side of Evanston there is a community within a community called the “Backlot.” It is a place where a group of homes share a backyard, an open space often filled with laughter and play. It is a place of belonging, a place where neighbors can build and share a life together.

We each have our own “backlots” — front stoops, back porches, public parks. We remember a time when we would disappear into those spaces and build elaborate worlds while the day turned quietly into night. Our backlot was a safe place, a place where we could be ourselves and discover new possibilities for our lives.

At Backlot Coffee we strive to be a comfortable, stimulating, and diverse community where people can catch up with old friends and make new ones, where they can play games with their kids, get some work done, or just sit and read quietly. We work hard each day to surprise our guests with kindness.

We want Backlot Coffee to be the place people go to meet their neighbors, their local coffee house. After all, people are what makes Backlot great.

Backlot By The Numbers

Since 2016

We have grown from a staff of 6 to a staff of 42 employees. We have actively supported our local school’s, non profits, and community fundraisers.

Since 2018

We have grown from roasting 10,000lbs/year to over 40,000lbs in 2023. We have partnered with Collective Resources to divert thousands of pounds of compostable materials from landfills.

Since 2020

We have offered health insurance to all of our full time staff. We have provided a 401k plan and PTO to all staff, regardless of employment status.