Chicago's Coffee Mecca is a Lot of Buzz and a Little Bit Art

By Jacqueline Lewis

After almost two years of secretive construction, the world’s biggest Starbucks opened its doors on Michigan Avenue to winding lines of eager guests on Friday.

At 9am on November 15th, Starbucks enthusiasts pushed their way into the long awaited Starbucks Reserve on the corner of Michigan and Erie. Once the flagship store for Crate & Barrel, the building has been seemingly empty for two years. Now, this newly unveiled mega store is enticing to art, architecture and coffee enthusiasts alike!

The corner space boasts of 4 stories and a rooftop for a 35,000 square foot, coffee experience. Each floor has something different to offer, from liquid nitrogen gelato and Princi pastries, to barrel aged cold brew and a curated cocktail bar. If you are looking for a basic coffee, check your local Starbucks instead because this place is more of an experience than a coffee shop.

The outside of the building resembles a french press, which is one of the many available brewing methods available inside. The interior celebrates the process of creation through its architectural choices. Instead of hiding the brewing and bean processes, the machinery is the store’s main focal point. Each floor twists around large golden shoots (Starbucks’ tallest steel casks) that blend sculpture with function. The casks moves and rests recently roasted beans while visitors watch as they accumulate throughout the day.

“The design of the Chicago Roastery was inspired by the iconic Chicago landmark, and the city itself,” said Jill Enomoto, vice president of Roastery Design & Concept for Starbucks. The floor to ceiling windows allow for this natural light to enter and bring the bustling city into the space. At the same time, the light, the ceiling design, and the curved elevators (the first in the Midwest) direct visitors upwards through the space.

On top of the intriguing architecture, the walls are lined with artwork from local Chicago artists. There is a mural by Eulojio Ortega that follows the staircase on the back wall up all five floors. The mural tells the true story of coffee. It explores the agricultural side of coffee, thanking the farmers and coffee farms that support the entire coffee industry.

The store is also selling location specific, commemorative memorabilia by Chicago artist and designer Mac Blackout. This includes a hand painted, $6,500 La Marcozza Linea mini espresso machine as well as a painted jukebox.

As opening day comes to a close, the lines are still long with an average wait time throughout the day of 2.5-3 hours. Chicagoans are definitely not missing their first chance to view this coffee store masterpiece!


More info may be found here