After months of anticipation, on November 15, Starbucks opened their Starbucks Reserve Roastery Chicago – an immersive experience dedicated to roasting and crafting small-batch coffee. The Chicago Roastery is the company’s sixth roastery, and at 35,000 square feet, is its biggest. It is a five-story tribute to the city’s art, architecture and culture and the indelible mark the city has made on Starbucks. Once inside the front doors on Michigan Avenue and you’re immediately surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of coffee.
Here, bags of green (un-roasted) Starbucks Reserve beans are roasted and then piped to coffee bars located on each level where they are crafted into specialty coffee beverages only found at Starbucks Reserve Roasteries and Stores. The Roastery offers seven different brewing methods – from the classic French press to the theatrical siphon – and there several beverages on the menu that are exclusively available at the Chicago Roastery.
Standing as the centerpiece of the Roastery is a 56-foot steel cask, a sculptural blend of form and function, where coffee beans go to rest and de-gas after being roasted before they are piped to the coffee bars throughout the Roastery.
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. Looking outwards provides a view of the Magnificent Mile through the curved glass windows of the building. The ceiling in Chicago, with rings of outward spiraling shades of green, was designed to symbolize rays of sun touching rolling hills of green coffee trees. The shades of green were inspired by the agricultural nature of growing coffee. Illuminated ‘sunbeams’ radiate outward throughout the floors.