A sneak peek inside the world's largest Starbucks Reserve Roastery

A sneak peek inside the world's largest Starbucks Reserve Roastery
The Reserve features the only curved escalator in the Midwest. Photo: Chicago Tribune

Chicago may not be first to get a Starbucks Reserve Roastery–Seattle, Shanghai, Milan, New York, and Tokyo were in line before us–but we did get the “World’s Largest” and arguably the best.

It’s hard to imagine a more innovative space.

Jill Enomoto. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Jill Enomoto. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Jill Enomoto, vice president of Roastery Design & Concept for Starbucks, says the design was inspired by the iconic building and the city itself.

The design team worked to preserve the integrity of the original Mag Mile Crate and Barrel store while repurposing it for a Starbucks Reserve by working closely with the original architect of the 1990 designed store and its founder Gordon Segal. 

The new 5-story, 35,000 sq. foot space is already being called “a theme park for coffee’ and the “Willy Wonka of Coffee.”

So what’s it all about? And why all the buzz? Here’s a quick look before tomorrow’s 9:00 am. grand opening.

Outside

Starbucks Reserve exterior.

Starbucks Reserve exterior.

Aside from the name change at the top, the exterior of the building at 646 N Michigan Avenue (the corner of Michigan and Erie Street) has seen little change.

The First Floor

The first floor Reserve Coffee bar. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The first floor Reserve Coffee bar. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Upon entering the Roastery, visitors can visit the Reserve coffee bar where baristas create classic espresso beverages including cappuccino, latte, cortado and more.

The first floor is also home to the Roastery where 200,000 lbs. of coffee beans are expected to be roasted on site yearly.

The head roaster explains the roasting process. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The head roaster explains the roasting process. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

A coffee-themed design runs throughout the space, featuring burlap bags filled with beans, art inspired designs and merchandise designed by local artisans.

The 1st floor is also home to the base of the cask that distributes the coffee beans to each level. The 56-foot steel cask (the company’s tallest), is a sculptural blend of form and function, where coffee beans go to rest and de-gas after being roasted. The beans moving through the cast create a sensory sensation as the sounds of the beans “rain” as they pass through the bronze-colored tubes that reach skyward. 

The Second Floor

Rocco Princi. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Rocco Princi. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

A touch of class fills the 2nd floor space, home the authentic Italian bakery Princi, from the man behind the bakeries in Milan, London, New York and Chicago–Rocco Princi.

It’s been said that Princi conducts his bakeries like operas–each one a theatrical, detailed spectacle of artisanal food. 

Customers can select from a dazzling array of freshly-baked focaccia, cornetti, pastries, breads, sandwiches, and more.

Going up: Third Floor

The 3rd floor is home to the Experiential Coffee Bar which provides customers the opportunity to immerse in the “art, science, and theatre of coffee” with elevated brew methods and pairings.

Fourth Floor

The Arriviamo Bar. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The Arriviamo Bar. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The 4th floor, home to the Barrel-Aged Coffee Bar and the Arriviamo Bar, may just be the place to be seen and to hang.

Fourth floor coffee bar featuring barrel-aged coffee. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Fourth floor coffee bar featuring barrel-aged coffee. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The barrel-aged coffee bar showcases a variety of spirit-free coffee beverages whose beans have been aged in barrels giving them a boozy flavor without the booze. The menu includes some interesting choices including a “Smoked Cold Fashioned” and a “Minted Cold Brew.” The Barrel-aged Coffee Bar also offers combos where you can pair the coffee brew with whiskey such as the “Irish Con Crema Comparison Flight” that features the Irish Con Crema paired with Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey along with a tasting guide ($20).

Irish Con Crema combo. Photo: Carole Kuht-Brewer

Irish Con Crema combo. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The Arriviamo Cocktail Bar features “carefully crafted cocktails”–many original to Chicago and created by local mixologists. In addition to the cocktails there’s a selection of local beer and wine.

Fifth Floor

Come fair weather, the seasonal 5th floor Rooftop Terrace will offer al fresco dining and views of the Chicago Skyline. It will also be available for private events.

What: Starbucks Reserve Roastery
Where: 646 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago
Website: Starbucks Reserve

Subscribe to Show Me Chicago by email

If you would like to keep in touch with what’s happening in Chicago, like us on Facebook or subscribe to Show Me Chicago by email. To subscribe, type your email address in the box below and click the “create subscription” button. Our list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Leave a comment

  • Advertisement:
  • Advertisement:
  • ChicagoNow is full of win

    Welcome to ChicagoNow.

    Meet our bloggers,
    post comments, or
    pitch your blog idea.

  • Meet The Blogger

    Carole Kuhrt Brewer

    Arts, entertainment and dining journalist..

  • Follow me on Twitter.

  • Recent posts

  • Categories

  • Latest on ChicagoNow

  • Advertisement: