Top 10 things to know about Starbucks Chicago Roastery

See some of the highlights of the largest Starbucks yet, a five-story celebration of coffee, craft and Chicago.

Seattle. Shanghai. Milan. New York. Tokyo. And now, Chicago.

Each Starbucks Reserve™ Roastery celebrates coffee and craft, and offers an immersive experience inspired by some of the world’s most iconic cities. They are both a workshop and stage, a three-dimensional window into the journey of coffee. The Chicago Roastery is the company’s sixth roastery, and at 35,000 square feet, is its biggest showcase yet. It is a five-story tribute to the city’s art, architecture and culture – and the indelible mark the city has made on Starbucks.

1. Coffee roasted in Chicago, for Chicago

Step inside the front doors on Michigan Ave. and you’re immediately surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of coffee. Here, burlap bags of green (unroasted) Starbucks Reserve beans are roasted and then piped to coffee bars located on each level where they are crafted into beverages. The Chicago Roastery will roast small batch lots of Starbucks Reserve coffees from around the world. Unique to this Roastery, all coffee roasted in Chicago will only be served (and scooped) at this location. Customers can pick up a bag of hand-scooped Starbucks Reserve coffee at the Scooping Bar located on the first floor.

2. Towering cask

Standing as the centerpiece of the roastery is a 56-foot steel cask (the company’s tallest), a sculptural blend of form and function, where coffee beans go to rest and de-gas after being roasted. The bronze-colored cask has a perforated shell that reveals roasted beans moving through tubes in all directions, and then accumulating throughout the day like grains of sand in an hourglass.

3. A radiant view towards the sky

The light, the circulation, the artwork and the experience all draw the visitors’ eyes upwards. From the foot of the cask, look up to the domed ceiling high above as each ascending floor spirals and unfolds like a seashell. The design of the ceiling celebrates coffee as an agricultural product, inspired by misty green hills of coffee trees with rays of sun that radiate outward.

4. Midwest’s first curved escalator

Encircling the cask is a curved escalator – the Midwest’s first – taking visitors from the first to the second floor and on a 360-degree tour of the roasting, brewing, and scooping below. Look out through the curved glass windows for a view of the Magnificent Mile beyond.  

5. Italian bakery transported

Please don’t call it a dumbwaiter – this high-tech custom conveyer was specifically designed to transport freshly-baked focaccia, cornetti and breads in style from the second floor Princi bakery.

6. Coffee in the clouds

Sweet cream transforms into silky-smooth gelato at the third floor Experiential Coffee Bar through an infusion of liquid nitrogen, generating clouds of puffy, white vapor with each hand-crafted batch. Created to pair perfectly with Starbucks Reserve coffees.

7. Merchandise made for Michigan Ave.

Commemorate your visit with exclusive Roastery-inspired gifts. Merchandise highlights include a Michigan Avenue collection of drinkware inspired by the city’s architecture, a Chicago Starbucks Reserve local collection that pays tribute to the namesake city, and a collection of items with vibrant graphics designed by Chicago-based visual artist Mac Blackout.

8. Sweeping mural

The Roastery features dramatic murals from local artists, including a progressive piece by Chicago artist Eulojio Ortega that unfolds in a staircase spanning all five floors. His work offers a revealing glimpse into the world of coffee, paying tribute to the dedicated farmers and the coffee-growing regions that make it all possible.

9. Old-world craft of barrel-aging

It’s only fitting that the building that housed the flagship location of Crate & Barrel for nearly two decades would have a space for actual barrels. The Roastery’s fourth floor features a coffee bar dedicated to the centuries-old craft of barrel-aging with a Starbucks menu of spirit-free coffee beverages like Whiskey Barrel Aged Cold Brew and Mulled Spiced Coffee. Sip a Smoked Cold-Fashioned – smoked to order with an aroma evoking the flavors infused into the coffee from the barrel.

10. Cocktails designed by local mixologists

The Arriviamo™ Bar on the fourth floor (arriviamo means “we have arrived” in Italian) offers inspired (and photogenic) coffee and tea cocktail creations. Enjoy locally inspired cocktails like the Pour-Over Bijou and the Roastery Boilermaker from a menu designed in collaboration with Chicago-based mixologists Julia Momose, Annie Beebe-Tron and Rachel Miller.

Photos by Connor Surdi and Matt Glac

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