Although it sits in the base of a condo building, nothing about Aster is perfunctory. The beans are (with few exceptions) direct trade. Aster snapped up a Clover machine before Starbucks lowered the boom. It sits next to (what else?) a Synesso. Both are in good hands: The espresso drinks and drip coffee are superb. The espresso roast is from Intelligentsia, the much ballyhooed Chicago coffee shop that is keeping local roasters on their toes, and many of the tasty pastries are made on site. The large, modernist space has room for hard-core coffee nerds and iced-caramel-latte lovers alike. If we have one complaint, it’s that the abundance of lovely hard surfaces makes every little noise ring out.