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Monday Mojo: New Zealand Coffee Shop Chain Makes its Chicago Debut

 "I don't think you can compare us to anyone," Mojo's owner says. 
Mojo in Chicago: New Zealand Coffee Chain Opens First Shop in the Loop
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THE LOOP — Chicago has found its Mojo.

The New Zealand coffee shop chain specializing in flat whites and long blacks has opened its first shop stateside at 200 S. Wacker Drive. 

Open from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, the shop will sell coffee and tea as well as cold nitro brews, "steampunk" pours that resemble automated French Presses as well as food ranging from shaved smoked salmon toast to lamb meatloaf. 

The shop has a grab-and-go food "cabinet," but also has servers deliver sparkling water to guests who dine in. Mojo expects to open a patio later this week. 

Mojo proudly doesn't have WiFi service, allowing guests to "come to talk and share ideas" with friends instead of staring at phones, owner Steve Gianoutsos said. 

"I don't think you can compare us to anyone," he said. 

Sarah Elliott, general manager of Mojo's Chicago shop, pours a flat white. [All photos by DNAinfo/David Matthews]

The son of a Greek immigrant, Gianoutsos got his start serving customers at his dad's New Zealand restaurant when he was "3 or 4" years old. He stood on a crate to get close to diners' eye level, he said. 

He opened Mojo, his third business, about 15 years ago after buying a coffee roaster and a how-to book. He's steadily expanded the business after a lot of admitted "trial and error." Gianoutsos' father, now 75 years old, is Mojo's master roaster. 

Mojo has 35 shops in New Zealand, seven in Tokyo and two in China, Gianoutsos said. 

The shop formally opened Monday morning after quietly operating late last week. One early guest was Catalina Gaete, who's worked across the street at Willis Tower for about 1½ years. 

"They're reintroducing coffee as how it should be done," she said. 

Click the slideshow above or scroll down below for more looks at Mojo's debut:

Rose and Manuka tea. Manuka is a medicinal honey from Oceania

Nitro brew

A long black, which is like an Americano but with less water

John Cole watches the "steampunk" press in action.

This granola comes with raisins and, naturally, kiwi.


A peek at Mojo's menu

"Escape and Reward" captures Mojo's ethos, Gianoutsos said.

Drinks at Mojo by Dave Matthews on Scribd

Mojo food menu by Dave Matthews on Scribd

RELATED: Chicago Finds Its Mojo: New Zealand Coffee Chain Has Big Plans For The Loop