Jacques Shalo, owner of Kribi Coffee, in October 2020. | File photo

Jacques Shalo, owner of Kribi Coffee, 7324 Madison St., was surprised and delighted to learn his Forest Park Air Roastery had been named one of the 10 best coffee shops in Chicago by food and drink editors at Chicago Social.

In an article posted on May 5 Chicago Social editors announced, “Cameroon native Jacques Shalo has given a welcome jolt of caffeine and a vibrant sense of social awareness to west suburban Forest Park,” before bringing attention to Kribi’s unique air roasting technology and dedication to partnering with organizations aiming to end systemic racism.

“This was a real honor,” said Shalo. “I was pleasantly surprised by the quick recognition. It really has been something to watch this happen over such a brief period of time.”

Kribi Coffee is just 2 years old and joins notable Chicago coffee shops including Intelligentsia, Dark Matter, and Metropolis on the tight list of 10.

Since opening in January 2019, Shalo has been working to carve out a unique identity for his independent roastery in the congested and competitive coffee shop business. Shalo credits Kribi’s “four tenets,” freshness, method, sourcing, and giving back, for catching the attention of Chicago Social.

“Fresh coffee doesn’t start with brewing,” said Shalo who sources green coffee beans and air roasts them in small batches on site.

Kribi coffee sources historically significant coffees with a growing focus on beans grown in Cameroon. In addition to sourcing with regional specificity in mind, Kribi is dedicated to putting more money into the pockets of coffee farmers and donating to local social justice causes. A portion of every bag of Kribi’s Black Lives Matter blend is donated to Tutoring Chicago.