Tuesday, June 13, 2023

A Coffee Wonderland


One more Chicago note - if you're a Starbucks fan, you'll be gobsmacked at their outpost in downtown Chicago. If you're not a fan, you should just walk on by...
Starbucks' first foray outside of Seattle was in Chicago in 1987. Unfortunately, they opened the day that the stock market crashed - October 19, 1987. After that inauspicious start, little by little they grew until they built a 35,000 square foot temple, The Roastery, celebrating their coffee-making prowess on the Magnificent Mile in 2019. 
I learned about it on our Architectural Boat tour. The guide said it was pretty magnificent and if you want a $30 cup of coffee, this is your place. Well, almost but not quite...
There is a latte on one of the menus for $6.50, but if you oat milk it up and add olive oil(?), it brings it up to $7.50. That's available on the third floor "Experiential Coffee Bar" with "Oleato" on the menu, which is a "Starbucks Reserve coffee infused with Partanna extra virgin olive oil. Velvety smooth. Deliciously lush." I guess it's in the same category as Bulletproof Coffee. 🤷

Another unique feature of the Roastery is the fourth floor cocktail bar, obviously coffee-themed, offering, for example, a flight of espresso martinis. (I do love that idea.) There is an Old Fashioned and different whiskey cocktails on the menu, among other things. Don't drink coffee? Not a problem. There's a whole list of tea-infused cocktails, so you can keep up with your coffee chugging friends...although at $16 to $24 a hit, there probably isn't much chugging going on.
I didn't actually buy anything. I occupied myself by riding up and down all four floors (a few times) on the striking curved escalator. In the center is a spectacular 56 foot tall bronze colored cask, filled with coffee beans that travel in tubes to different locations in the building. (The fifth floor is a rooftop space, which wasn't open.) It's a gorgeous building - industrial, yet comfy, modern but with many classic elements from the history of coffee-making. 
The Chicago Roastery is a great place to go as its own special destination. I wouldn't necessarily go (or be able to afford) a normal coffee date in the place. But a first date or a special rendezvous would be a perfect reason to visit. Bring lots of money and lots of patience because the crowds can be thick on weekends and evenings. Starbucks is hoping you're willing to pay more and wait more for a very special experience. And if you want to go for free, ride up and down the escalator.  Dunkin' Donuts is just a few blocks away.


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