12 Facts You Should Know About Chicago's Starbucks Reserve Roastery

For coffee enthusiasts and Starbucks lovers alike, the Starbucks Reserve Roasteries offer a more in-depth Starbucks experience, complete with specialty blends, roastery tours, and hands-on immersive experiences. Back in 2014, Starbucks opened its first Reserve Roastery location in Seattle, Washington, the birthplace of the company. The goal was to give customers a chance to learn more about the coffee roasting and brewing processes and let them get up close and personal with their Starbucks coffee in ways that were never possible before. 

The idea was a huge success and led to the opening of Starbucks Reserve Roasteries in five other cities across the U.S. and around the world. In addition to a variety of drinks, merchandise, and experiences that can be found at every Starbucks Reserve Roastery, each individual location incorporates some of the city's culture to make it special. Unique drinks, experiences, and decor make sure that no matter which Starbucks Reserve Roastery you go to, you will get to know a little bit more about the city you are in. One of the six cities to house a Starbucks Reserve Roastery is Chicago, which welcomed its location in 2019. There you will find a number of notable drinks, design features, and more that you can't find anywhere else. We've gathered all of the must-see (and must-taste) offerings you won't want to miss on your next visit to the Chicago Starbucks Reserve.

The space's color palette is inspired by the Scandinavian aesthetic

If you walk along the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, you may recognize the architecture of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery there by its similarities to the space's previous occupant, Crate & Barrel. While many other Reserve Roasteries have an element of rich darkness to the design, the light color palette and large windows of the Chicago location provide a more open and airy feel which complements the Windy City well. Building off of the basic elements of the space that were originally created to match Crate & Barrel's Scandinavian aesthetic, the Chicago Starbucks Reserve Roastery has a unique sense of style that sets it apart from other Starbucks Reserve Roasteries. If you embark on the Roastery Revealed Tour during your visit, you can learn more about the special architectural details of the space.

The space still continues to maintain some of the classic industrial design elements that the Reserve Roasteries are known for, like exposed metal pipes and fixtures. These elements ground the design and make visual reference to the brewing and roasting equipment found within the space."The Starbucks design team sought to complement the iconic white exterior and added colors inspired by the agricultural nature of growing and harvesting coffee that will feel familiar to Starbucks customers and aficionados," a Starbucks spokesperson shared. "The finished result pays tribute to the building's history and honors the heritage of Starbucks coffee."

The five floors each have their own special features

The Chicago Starbucks Reserve Roastery is particularly unique in its layout, containing five floors filled with a wide variety of products and experiences for customers to enjoy. Each floor offers something new, from freshly roasted coffee beans to immersive experiences. The first floor contains two main sections: the Reserve Coffee Bar, a ground-level bar visible from the street that serves coffee and pastries, and the Scooping Bar, where customers can take home freshly scooped, whole-bean coffee roasted on-site. The second floor contains a renowned boutique Italian bakery and café that serves fresh bread, pizza, desserts, and more. So whether you are looking to sit and relax or grab and go, the Chicago Reserve Roastery has food and drink options for everyone. 

The third floor houses the Experiential Coffee Bar, which showcases exploratory brew methods such as siphoning and Chemix and aims to deepen customers' coffee knowledge. The fourth floor is home to the Innovation Bar, which offers immersive and hands-on experiences that guests can book online ahead of time as well as the Arriviamo Bar, which serves unique cocktails and other coffee creations. Finally, the fifth floor offers a seasonally available Roof Terrace with beautiful views of both Michigan Avenue and the Roastery below. Be sure to visit all five floors to get the full Chicago Reserve Roastery experience. 

Private tours of the Reserve Roastery are on offer

Ever wanted to get up close and personal with your coffee beans and learn more about the coffee-making process? Then you're in luck at the Chicago Reserve Roastery. If you book a private Roastery Revealed Tour, you and your guests will get an up-close view of the coffee bean roasting process as well as an in-depth look at the unique architectural design of the Chicago Roastery. During the tour, you will learn about how coffee beans are roasted, how the brewing process works, and how coffee's tasting notes can be further enhanced by its favorite pairing partner: chocolate. 

And it isn't just new knowledge tour-takers will be heading home with. The Roastery Revealed Tour package also includes a coffee-tasting and chocolate truffle pairing, an exclusive take-home bag of Starbucks Reserve coffee, and a coffee or tea beverage of each attendee's choice. A perfect outing for coffee-loving friends and family, guests can find tour sign-up information on the Starbucks Reserve website.

There are Chicago-exclusive cocktails

One major way that Starbucks Reserve Roasteries differ from your average Starbucks location is that bartenders create and serve delicious craft cocktails for customers to enjoy. If you're a fan of using Starbucks coffee in your home bar to make espresso martinis, you're going to want to level up that experience and try some of the unique Starbucks Reserve cocktails on offer. The Chicago Roastery is particularly unique in that it offers exclusive cocktails that cannot be found at any other Starbucks Reserve Roastery locations. "With a menu designed in collaboration with mixology luminaries Julia Momose, Annie Beebe-Tron, and Rachel Miller, every drink is an alchemy of prevision and innovation," a Starbucks spokesperson shared.

These exclusive drinks include the Union Stock, the Lake Shore, the Roastery Boilermaker, and the Pour-Over Bijou. The Chicago Reserve Roastery also takes full advantage of using local Chicago products in its cocktails. For example, the Union Stock cocktail combines Rhine Hall Grappa, which is produced at the local Rhine Hall distillery in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago, with Starbucks Reserve whiskey barrel-aged cold brew, among other ingredients. The Roastery Boilermaker cocktail also uses a Rhine Hall product, this time Rhine Hall bierschnaps, and combines it with locally distilled Koval four grain whiskey, the famous Chicago-based bitter liqueur Malört, Starbucks Reserve cold brew, and more. These drinks can all be ordered on the Roastery's fourth floor at the Arriviamo Bar.

There is a Princi Bakery & Café inside

Located on the second floor of the Chicago Starbucks Reserve Roastery is the Princi Bakery & Café. You may recognize the Princi name from its numerous locations around the world in other cities like New York, Seattle, Milan, London, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Kuwait. Founded by baker Rocco Princi, the Princi bakery brand is all about handmade, high-quality, artisan baking in the Italian tradition. Princi has been dedicating his life to fresh, quality baked goods for nearly 40 years, having opened his first shop in Milan in 1986. 

At the Princi Bakery located inside the Chicago Starbucks Reserve Roastery, a dedicated team of bakers uses fresh, high-quality ingredients to craft the bakery's fresh baked goods. The Princi Bakery & Café offers a wide variety of items, both sweet and savory, so there is something here for everyone. The menu includes everything from breads and pizzas to pastries and cakes. And, of course, all of this can be ordered alongside a Starbucks Reserve drink for a perfect pairing. Whether you are looking for a bite on your way to work or a midafternoon pick-me-up, coffee, and baked goods are a match made in heaven. 

It has an exclusive Chicago Roastery Microblend collection

While Starbucks may pride itself on its international reach and international flavors, taking local inspiration for certain aspects of the Reserve Roasteries remains a priority. In perusing the Roastery menu can offer you coffee from everywhere from Guatemala to Hawaii; having that unique Chicago touch is what really makes a trip to the Chicago Reserve Roastery special. 

Inspired by this idea, Starbucks Reserve recently released a new collection of coffee blends inspired by each of the six cities that house a Reserve Roastery. Each city's roast is uniquely inspired by that city's culture and feel and is only available at the Reserve Roastery in that city. The new Chicago Roastery Microblend collection includes an exclusive Microblend co-created with Chicago Starbucks Reserve partners that embodies the comforting, Midwestern feel of the city of Chicago. The Chicago microblend has aromatic notes of rose with tasting notes of jammy berry and raw honeycomb, all delivered with a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. There is also special merchandise available as part of the Chicago Roastery Microblend collection, including serveware, apparel, and more.

You can also buy exclusive Chicago Reserve Roastery merchandise

If you're visiting the Chicago Starbucks Reserve Roastery, why not take a piece of the experience home with you? Whatever way you would like to remember your visit, the Chicago Roastery has a wide variety of merchandise for you to choose from to make sure your trip is unforgettable. 

If your visit has inspired you to try out a new brewing method you learned about, you can purchase and bring home a new brewing apparatus and try it out for yourself. If a shirt or hat is more your style, there is exclusive Chicago apparel available only at this Starbucks Reserve location. If you want to remember your trip with future sips, there are bottles, mugs, cups, thermoses, and more available with exclusive Chicago Reserve Roastery designs. Whether you are a local wanting to represent your city, you're a traveler wanting to remember your visit to Chicago, or you are picking out a gift for a coffee lover in your life, you'll want to check out the merchandise tables for these fun and exclusive designs. 

It is the largest Starbucks Reserve location

The Chicago Reserve Roastery is the largest Starbucks Reserve location, which also makes it the largest Starbucks location in the world. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Chicago holds this unique title thanks to its massive 35,000 square feet of retail space filled with coffee, tea, food, merchandise, and more. While it is not unusual for the Starbucks Reserve locations to have multiple floors, the Chicago Roastery is spread out across five massive floors, each with new and unique offerings that are not available anywhere else. 

The location is filled with multisensory experiences, allowing customers to see, smell, hear, touch, and of course, taste their way through the coffee-making process. From tasting flights and chocolate pairings to brew method presentations and tours, the Chicago Starbucks Reserve Roastery serves as a playground for coffee enthusiasts and Starbucks fans alike. The expansive size of the location allows customers to experience a Starbucks far beyond the typical grab-and-go convention in a uniquely immersive setting. 

You can buy freshly scooped coffee beans that were roasted on-site

One of the major highlights of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery locations that sets them apart from regular Starbucks is that there are coffee bean roasting facilities on site. This means that you can get freshly scooped, whole-bean coffee that was roasted on-site when you visit the Chicago Reserve Roastery. Head to the Scooping Bar on the building's first floor and speak with a Coffee Master to determine which blend is perfect for you. 

The Coffee Masters can talk through all of the tasting notes and advice you may need to help you choose just the right blend to take home with you. Once you've decided, they will scoop the beans and bag them up for you at the counter. Whether you're looking to take home a souvenir of your visit, you're looking for the perfect gift for the coffee lover in your life, or you're just looking for something fresher or more exclusive than you can find at the grocery store, the Scooping Bar has just what you need. 

There are immersive, hands-on experiences to book

There are lots of things to see and taste at the Chicago Starbucks Reserve Roastery, but what if you want to get in on the action yourself? Booking a hands-on experience at the Innovation Bar on the fourth floor of the building will allow you to do just that. At the Innovation bar, guests can attend immersive sessions with coffee experts who will teach them new coffee-related skills. According to a company spokesperson, "Starbucks Reserve Roastery Chicago offers ticketed Signature Experiences, where guests can participate in curated small group tastings exploring best-in-class brewing techniques, coffee innovation, and mixology skills from an expert barista." 

These experiences can be booked for groups of up to six people, so they are a great activity for a date night, girl's night out, or any other fun celebration. Whichever experience you choose, you will have a chance to broaden your coffee horizons and take a new coffee skill home with you. Be sure to visit the Starbucks Reserve website for more information on how to sign up for immersive experiences before you go, and stop by the merchandise tables on your way out in case you need new equipment to use your new techniques at home. 

You can take in views of the city on the roof deck

Take advantage of the Chicago Roastery's unique five-floor height up on the building's roof deck. Perched on top of the Roastery, the roof deck offers views of the surrounding city skyline and Michigan Avenue down below. Due to the building's unique architecture, you also get a view of the hustle and bustle of the Roastery below. 

During the spring and summer months, the roof deck is the perfect place to relax, enjoy the fresh air, and get in some people-watching from up above. Don't forget to grab a drink and a snack from one of the floors below to take up with you. For a romantic date night or a catch-up session with friends, grab some unique coffee-based cocktails from the Arriviamo Bar located on the floor below and enjoy talking over drinks in a beautiful rooftop setting. 

You can learn about exploratory brew methods

If you thought the bean roasting process was the only part of coffee making that distinguishes one cup from another, think again. After the beans have been roasted and ground, there is still another crucial step that brings coffee to your cup: the brew. All brewing methods are not created equal, and how your coffee is extracted depends on a myriad of factors and variables, from the texture of the grounds to the temperature of the water and the duration of its contact with the coffee. So, using different brewing equipment and techniques can help your coffee achieve and maintain certain desirable flavor and texture elements. 

The Experiential Coffee Bar, located on the third floor of the Chicago Starbucks Reserve Roastery, aims to educate customers on just that. showcasing exploratory brew methods alongside origin-driven storytelling, the Experiential Coffee Bar offers an engaging presentation for customers looking to deepen their coffee knowledge. It's the perfect seat for the type of person who wants an experience less hands-on than the Signature Experiences, but prefers learning through observation. Of course, the informative presentation is best complemented by giving the coffee made with these exploratory brew methods a try for yourself. Customers can order items like flights of two or three different siphon-brewed coffees or a "Chemex brewed coffee for two" to get a taste of the unique methods.