It’s common for tourists to associate Chicago with the Cubs, or the Windy City, or even the Chicago Fire. But over the last several years, Chicago has become known for Starbucks – one very famous Starbucks to be exact.
The Starbucks Reserve Roastery, located on Michigan Ave. in the heart of Chicago’s Magnificant mile, is hard to miss at any time of the year…and many times, just as hard to get into. Since its opening in November of 2019, the location has been quite busy serving tourists and locals, so much that there always seems to be a line to get in the door. As for my experience, I’ve visited the Roastery on several occasions (including just a few weeks after it opened) and I can truly say it’s a destination for coffee lovers and Starbucks fanatics alike.
So what makes the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Chicago so unique and special? Let’s take a look:
8 Reasons to Visit Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Chicago
1. It’s the largest Starbucks on Earth – The Starbucks Reserve Roastery is the largest Starbucks in the world, literally taking the coffee experience to a whole new level – 5 levels to be specific. Each of its five floors has something exciting and unique to offer so if you are ever fortunate to visit, make sure you visit each one.
2. It’s 1 of 6 Starbucks Roasteries in the world – The Chicago Roastery is the latest Roastery to be launched and follows other sites located in Seattle, New York, Milan, Tokyo and Shanghai. Each Roastery aims to create an experience for the coffee lover. According to Starbucks their “Roasteries are theatrical, experiential shrines to coffee passion. Here, Master Roasters, mixologists and baristas ply their craft to coax perfectly flavorful, often unexpectedly artful expressions from our rare, single-origin coffees.”
3. The location of the Chicago Roastery has a unique story – Chicago’s Roastery occupies the original Crate & Barrel home store, which opened in 1990 and closed in 2016. When Chicago’s C&B on Michigan Ave. was in the early stages of development, Starbucks – which hadn’t fully taken off yet – approached C&B to see if they could house a Starbucks cafe on the first floor. Although that idea never came to fruition….many years later in 2016, Starbucks learned that original C&B store was vacating the property and welcomed the chance to take its spot. But this time, its intentions were not just a few thousand feet on the ground floor, they intended to use the entire building! The rest, as they say, is coffee history.
4. It features non-traditional drinks and food – Although you can find some of your standard Starbucks drinks at this location (I had my usual almond milk latte), the Roastery prides itself on offering special reserve and limited edition coffees. They also serve several authentic Italian food items – sweet and savory – created by Princi Bakery that you can’t find in a regular Starbucks – including pizzas, cannoli, and more.
5. They host tours, events and tasting experiences – As I said before, the Starbucks Roasteries are all about the coffee experience. The Chicago location offers several coffee tasting and pairing experiences, including the Art of the Espresso Martini and Coffee Lab: A Journey for Senses. They also offer private, behind the scenes tours as well as spaces to host special events.
6. It has a (spiked) coffee bar – Yep, Starbucks sells alcohol now. If you head up to the 4th floor, you will be treated to a special sight – a coffee bar that specializes in delicious adult-themed beverages like espresso martini flights, whiskey flights, old fashioneds and more. And there’s no need to wait until 5pm!
7. The internal design is just as amazing as the coffee it serves – When you step inside the Chicago Roastery location, you’ll probably get a mixed vibe – a feeling of funky Steampunk chic combined with modern Scandinavian minimalism. From the soft, warm color palate of muted greens and tans, to the elegant spiral escalator (yes, I said escalator!), to the 56ft golden cask that stands as the Roastery’s centerpiece, the ambience and eye candy are worth the wait in line, even if you don’t like coffee.
8. It has an outdoor, rooftop terrace – Like any Chicago restaurant or cafe worth its salt, Starbucks Reserve Roastery offers open-air, rooftop seating (season/weather permitting) where you can sip your limited edition craft drinks and other beverages while admiring a birds eye view of the city.
If you’re a hand-crafted coffee lover like me, be sure to put this caffeine-filled destination on your list the next time you’re in Chicago!