Coffee beans are roasted onsite then shot across the store via overhead tubes.
The world’s largest Starbucks opens today on Michigan after month of anticipation. Here’s everything you can expect from the new store.
How big is it?
Huge! The new store is 35,000 square-feet with four indoor floors and a fifth-floor roof terrace that overlooks Michigan Ave. Each floor features a different coffee experience from your usual coffee-to-go to store exclusive beans to delicious pastries to experimental cocktails! Here’s a breakdown of each floor with our recommendations:
First Floor: Reserve Coffee Bar
The first-floor features the Reserve Coffee Bar; this is where you can pick up your morning latte and pastry. However, unlike most coffee shops, this floor also features on-site coffee roasting with rare beans, a coffee scoop bar, and store exclusive merchandise designed by Mac Blackout.
The roastery is the centerpiece of the new Starbucks store. With a roasting rate of 200,000 lbs per year, the roastery takes beans from fresh green to roasted and ready for brewing. As beans finish roasting, they’re poured into a 56-foot steel cask for distribution throughout the store. Every so often, you can hear the beans cascading down the cask. When bean supply gets low at any of the three coffee bars, tubes in the ceiling shoot beans across the store using pressurized air. It’s like the Willy Wonka factory, but for coffee!
Many of the coffee batches roasted at the Michigan Avenue location are rare and exclusive to that store. If you’re a coffee connoisseur, you’ll want to get a bag of fresh-roasted beans, available at the scoop bar.
Second Floor: Princi Bakery & Cafe
The second floor features a fresh bakery and cafe courtesy of Italian baker Rocco Princi. Princi is known for his artisan bread inspired by traditional family recipes that pair beautifully with Starbucks Reserve coffee. The kitchen is easily viewable behind the pastry case and bar where the heavenly scent of fresh-baked bread hangs in the air. The Reserve menu includes mouthwatering Princi-pastries, but also pizza, salads, and more. Our favorites are the Caprese Sandwich and Brioche alla Creme croissants.
Pastries are baked on-site and then distributed via a ferris-wheel-like conveyor belt that transports delicious treats all over the store. It’s mesmerizing to watch and even more delicious to eat!
Third Floor: Experiential Coffee Bar
The “Experiential Coffee Bar” invites you to immerse yourself in the coffee brewing experience. With five different ways of brewing, the coffee bar makes delicious beverages with Hogwarts-potion-class-level theatrics. Our favorite is the siphon flight brewer, which lights up and bubbles as it brews.
Some delectable beverage options include a full-bodied Pistachio Latte with a hint of orange zest; a Cardamom Long Black espresso drink; and a Sparkling Citrus Espresso that’s shaken with ice and poured over tonic and aromatic bitters. There’s also nitrogen-infused gelato made right in front of you and served Affogato style, in a Cold Brew Malt, or Cold Brew Float. Yum!
Fourth Floor: Arriviamo Cocktail Bar
The final coffee bar is located on the top floor of the world’s largest Starbucks. The Arriviamo bar features coffee-flavored cocktails, specialty cold-brew creations, and hot beverages inspired by classic alcoholic drinks. The Minted Cold Brew has to be our favorite and takes its inspiration from mint julep cocktails, garnished with fresh mint. If you’re a bourbon fan, try the Whiskey Barrel-Aged Cold Brew which is aged in real whiskey barrels or the Smoked Cold Fashioned, smoked in a jar right before your eyes!
Adding some Chicago flare are local bartenders Julia Momose, Annie Beebe-Tron and Rachel Miller. Chicago-themed cocktails such as the Roastery Boilermaker, a riff on the classic beer and shot; the Pour Over Bijou, an ode to Chicago architecture; and Lake Shore which is inspired by paletas and the Chicago summer we all miss so much right now. (It’s so cold. Send help.)
What else is in store?
The new Starbucks Reserve Roastery has several other incredible features. Three different murals decorate the new store, the largest by Chicago artist Eulojio Ortega and which spans all five floors. It pays tribute to coffee farmers in the various regions Starbucks sources their beans. Ortega even painted one of the farmers to look like his father in a charming, personal touch.
The store also features the Midwest’s first curved escalator, a new Starbuck Siren designed by David Anthony Geary, and a love letter to Chicago printed on the wall. The store’s design was expertly made to go with the exterior of the iconic building and ergonomics of the store’s many coffee and pastry delivery systems.
What does Chicago get out of it?
You mean besides incredible coffee, food, and desserts? (Just kidding.)
Chicago means a lot to Starbucks founder Howard Shultz and CEO Kevin Johnson. Our city was the first to host a company store outside of Seattle, which means Starbucks wants to pay it forward. The company recently announced a $10 million dollar investment into Accion Chicago, Chicago Community Loan Fund, Local Initiative Support Corporation, and IFF. This investment will provide more than 500 loans to Chicago small businesses, community development projects, and provide economic vitality to underserved neighborhoods. Thanks, Starbucks!
How crowded will it be?
Be prepared for massive crowds. This Starbucks location really is remarkable and between Starbucks-fanatics and tourists, long lines are expected. If you can’t wait to taste that sweet, sweet bean juice, we suggest arriving very early the day you decide to visit. For those of you who aren’t as coffee-craved, we recommend waiting for the hype to die down a little before planning your visit. As incredible as the new store is, it can get a little overwhelming with so many people.
Opening date: Fri, Nov 15 at 9 a.m.
Location: 646 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL
Hours: The grand opening will start at 9 a.m.. After that, regular hours will be:
Mon – Thurs: 7 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Fri: 7 a.m. – Midnight
Sat: 8 a.m. – Midnight
Sunday: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Feature photo courtesy of Starbucks.
Correction: A previous version of this article described the new location as 45,000 square feet, roasting 2,000 lbs of coffee beans a year. The location is 35,000 square feet and roasts 200,000 lbs of coffee beans per year. The article has been updated with the correct numbers. We sincerely apologize for the misinformation.