When the doors are unlocked at 7 a.m., a small cadre of caffeine junkies will already have gathered outside Shaw's Coffee, Ltd. champing at the bit for their morning espressos. Lucky for them Jessica Jarvis is pulling the shots. Open since 1999, Shaw's has thrived in its historic Italian neighborhood — the Hill, of course, is an area where espresso experts are legion. Jarvis brings to the counter half a lifetime of barista experience: When she was a young girl, her mother opened a café in their small central Illinois town and equipped it with the area's first espresso machine. Since then Jarvis has mastered all forms and varieties of the bean. Her lattes, cappuccinos and macchiatos are all served up with the casual grace of a true professional. Not sure what you want? Jarvis has a sixth sense for matching total strangers with their caffeinated ideal. Best of all, she refuses to take herself too seriously. "It should be excellent," she says, "but it's just coffee."
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