World’s biggest Starbucks opens in Chicago

By Beth Newhart

- Last updated on GMT

Following a $10m investment in local businesses, the Chicago Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened to the public on Michigan Avenue.
Following a $10m investment in local businesses, the Chicago Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened to the public on Michigan Avenue.

Related tags Starbucks Coffee Coffee consumption Cold brew Roasting

The newest Starbucks Reserve Roastery is the company’s largest location in the world, with five floors and more than 35,000 square feet. It opens its doors November 15 in downtown Chicago.

Starbucks has five other Roasteries--New York, Seattle, Milan, Shanghai and Tokyo--but the Chicago location has been a new challenge for the brewer. Starbucks calls it an immersive experience that “celebrates the company’s heritage and is a tribute to the roasting and the craft of coffee.”

The Chicago project was first announced in April 2017. Located on the famed Michigan Avenue, intersected with Erie Street, the Chicago Roastery now occupies a well known retail building previously home to Crate and Barrel.

sbux roast 1

Jill Enomoto, VP of Roastery Design & Concept at Starbucks, said “We embraced the building’s natural light, married it with shades of classic Starbucks greens and intentionally wove in design features to encourage customer exploration and highlight the love and respect we have for coffee.”

Savvy and discerning coffee drinkers

Chicago was the first city outside of Seattle that Starbucks expanded to in 1987, so the brewer said it was a natural decision to make the Windy City home to its largest Roastery. At the time of the 2017 announcement, chairman Howard Schultz called it a ‘special city’ full of customers that are “so savvy and discerning about their coffee.”

Apart from the Roastery, there are 796 Starbucks locations in Chicago that employ more than 18,100 people. The Roastery will employ nearly 200 people, including roasters, baristas, commessas, bakers and mixologists.

Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks, said “Over the past five years, we have created the ultimate immersive experience around all-things-coffee in spectacular Starbucks Reserve Roasteries in flagship cities around the world.”

“This week we are delighted to open our doors on the sixth global Roastery in an iconic building located on Chicago’s renowned Magnificent Mile. These Roasteries amplify the Starbucks brand, serve as innovation hubs, and create experiences for millions of customers around the world.”

Bars, bakeries and coffee cocktails

The Roastery menu includes drinks unique to the location and are made with Starbucks’ rarest single-origin coffees and blends, roasted small-batch on-site. The coffee will be offered brewed as espresso, pour over, coffee press, siphon, Chemex, Clover and cold brewing.

sbux roast 3

The first floor of the Chicago Roastery features the main Reserve Coffee Bar, the Roaster, the Scooping Bar, a retail shop and the 56-foot centerpiece cask. The second floor is modeled after an authentic Italian bakery, created by Starbucks partner Rocco Princi. Its menu serves fresh breads, cornetti and focaccia, pizza and salads, plus cakes and tarts.

The Experiential Coffee Bar dominates the third floor, designed for customers “to immerse in the art, science, and theatre of coffee.”​ It features coffee flights and creations, exploratory brew methods, nitrogen-infused gelato and espresso classics.

On the fourth floor, enthusiasts can find the Barrel-Aged Coffee Bar serving alcohol-free coffee mocktails. The menu includes unique drinks like the Smoked Cold Fashioned and Minted Cold Brew. Also on floor four is the Arriviamo Cocktail Bar, serving alcoholic coffee and tea-forward cocktails developed by top mixologists.

Starbucks said Arriviamo is inspired by the Italian tradition of aperitivo. Beyond original hand-crafted drinks, the bar will also serve Chicago beer, wine and themed cocktails. The Lake Shore features Teavana tea with tequila and the Roastery Boilermaker incorporates infamous Chicago liquor Malort with whiskey and cold brew.

A nod to the locals

Last month, Starbucks announced a $10m investment in small Chicago businesses. The money is going to four community lenders and is expected to finance more than 500 loans to local businesses, nonprofit organizations and commercial real estate ventures.

“We believe the pursuit of profit is not in conflict with the pursuit of doing good. We know that our business performs at its best when the communities we serve are thriving. This sustained investment will provide borrowers who often face barriers with access to capital and mentorship to grow their business and create more jobs in Chicago,”​ Johnson said.

Chicago mayor Mayor Lori Lightfoot, said “I applaud Starbucks for their commitment of corporate citizenship and efforts to strengthen the communities in which they serve. Chicago’s own relationship with Starbucks stretches over three decades, and we are incredibly excited to continue that partnership well into the future.”

Throughout the Roastery, Chicago will also feature artwork from local artists that “tell stories and encourage customers to explore.” An agriculture mural can be seen in the stairwell from floor to floor and ‘Chicago’ walls made from Starbucks Reserve coffee cards are found on the first and fourth floors.

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