A whole new brew

New Starbucks Roastery Reserve offers tours, unique coffee expirience


Max Garfinkel

SPILL THE BEANS. The Starbucks Roastery's extensive menu offers the "Origin Flight," three unique, traditionally prepared brews.

Max Garfinkel, Business Manager

The sweet-savory aromas of coffee beans roasting and pastries baking waft as a flipping clock board announces a variety of beans at the entrance of the newly opened Starbucks Reserve Roastery. The air is so saturated with the scent of coffee it can almost be tasted. Knowledgeable greeters meet customers at the door advising them on what to drink and eat. 

The four-story, 43,000 square-foot Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened Nov. 15 at Michigan Avenue and Erie Street in the former Crate and Barrel flagship store. Offering tours, rare reserve beans and Chicago-inspired drinks, it presents a unique and interesting coffee experience.

Four days after its grand opening, it still bustled with tourists and Chicago natives. Its four floors were grand, but like any normal Starbucks, people typed on their MacBook Airs and sipped expensive coffees. It has the same classic tan-and-green color scheme as most Starbucks, but the aesthetic felt less cozy – almost as busy and industrial as Michigan Avenue.

Kathy Luan
DARK AND BREWING. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Michigan Avenue provides a look into the coffee process, from bean to brew.

I waited in line for about 15 minutes, finally ordering the Origin Flight — three medium-roasted 8-ounce coffees with beans originating from Ethiopia, South America, Sumatra and Costa Rica, as well as an affogato.

The total cost was about $30, which was more expensive than expected.

The “sun-dried Ethiopia yircacheffe chelelektu” tasted light and floral with hints of berry flavors. The “Pantheon Blend” tasted most similar to what could be expected at a typical Starbucks, but with a slightly chocolatey flavor. The “Starbucks Reserve Christmas” tasted rich and nutty. All three flavors were appetizing and I would gladly drink any of them again.

The affogato, a scoop of smoth, creamy, vanilla gelato with a shot of espresso poured over it, was the best thing I tried. It served as a good balance to the concentration of coffee in the Origin Flight.

According to the Starbucks Reserve website, the reserve roasteries “are theatrical, experiential shrines to coffee passion” and “offer a more intimate coffee experience,” and I agree.

As soon as I walked into the store I could see and feel the amount of effort and planning that went into the decor, layout, and menu, which makes the Starbucks Reserve Roastery a true shrine to coffee.   

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery is a unique experience that would be fun to go to with friends for a special occasion, but it is too expensive and time consuming for your morning cup of coffee.