The Venti-est Starbucks in the World Opens in Chicago

Currently waiting in a line wrapped into four lanes, down a block and around the corner for the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery. Their largest location just opened in Chicago, so naturally I’m waiting in 35 degree weather for an hour to see if it’s worth it.

Update: It was so worth it. I’m now sitting in one of the wooden chairs they have scattered throughout the four floors, looking through the floor-to-ceiling window over Michigan Avenue. The different levels of this 35,000 square foot building include a live roasting station, bakery, exploratory cafe, cocktail bar, and rooftop lookout coming soon.

For a quick grab and go cup, stop at the counter on the first floor. You can also get a package of on-site roasted espresso beans, hand scooped to order. 

The experiential cafe is just two twisted elevator rides away where you’ll get all your coffee needs. It goes beyond your regular pumpkin spice latte order. Five giant glass cylinders holding beans hang from the center of the bar while baristas hustle around it to serve up fresh flights, nitro cold brews and gelato. Yes, gelato. As in an affogato shot of nitrogen-infused fior di latte cream. The mini glasses of bicerin also caught the eyes of all the indecisive customers, including me. It contains a layer of an espresso shot and a layer of chocolate and vanilla bean syrup.

Photo Courtesy Delish

Above the cafe is where the party starts. A bar wraps around the center of gold barred shelves lined with flavorful liquors, beers and wines. The cocktail menu is elaborate as each drink has multiple different elements, all including a product from the Starbucks Reserve brand, bringing you the ultimate collaboration of a bartender and barista.

Photo Courtesy Starbucks

There’s also many options when it comes to pairing your drink with a bite to eat. The Italian bakery Rocco Princi takes over the second floor. People drooled especially over the fruit filled tarts and double chocolate tiramisu.

Barrel-aged coffee was another feature throughout all the madness. Green coffee beans are held in bins that once contained whiskey and other spirits, giving drinks an unexpected punch.

The innovation in this Starbucks surpassed any and all expectations I had and it takes the term venti to a whole other meaning. I raise a glass of my cold brew, paper straw and all, to many more visits and tastings.