Eating/Drinking

Sip Your Way Through the World’s Largest Starbucks

Photo courtesy of Starbucks Reserve Roastery/Yelp

The Disney World of Coffee. The Willy Wonka Factory of Caffeine. The Mecca of Mocha? Whatever you want to call it, there’s no denying the grandeur and sheer size of the shimmering new Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Magnificent Mile—at five floors and 35,000 square feet, it’s the largest Starbucks on the planet.

Photo courtesy of Starbucks Reserve Roastery/Yelp

As the Seattle-based coffee giant further branches out into the world of artisan coffee, which is increasingly including additional elements like booze, food, legit pastries, and stunning design schemes, the Reserve Roastery arm of the company is making its mark in global cities like New York, Shanghai, Milan, and now Chicago. This latest outpost is almost unrecognizable compared to most Starbucks cafés, thanks to its opulent size, prime location, and additional offerings that go well beyond the typical lattes, muffins, and java.

Each floor is distinct in terms of ambience, menus, and theme, designed to highlight the company’s wide bandwidth of efforts and output, from the actual roasting process to expansive retail and even an educational component preaching the gospel of coffee. It all starts on the ground floor, which is the primary coffee bar. This is the space that’s most akin to your standard ’Bucks, albeit much glossier and larger, with coffee drinks, pastries, snacks, and grab-and-go items, alongside a retail shop fully stocked with swag, bags of coffee, and equipment for home.

Photo courtesy of Starbucks Reserve Roastery/Yelp

Another notable highlight from this level is the base of these huge bronze tubes shooting up through every subsequent floor, used to transport coffee beans throughout the space. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen in a coffee shop, surely, and looks more like a contraption an Oompa Loompa might use to dispose of naughty children from chocolate rivers.

From here, there are elevators and a curved escalator transporting visitors to the upper floors, starting with the Princi Bakery & Cafe on the second level. Here is where baker, pizza slinger, and sandwich maker Rocco Princi gets his time to shine. The Italian artisan oversees a broad menu of savory and sweet menu items, including liquid-nitrogen gelato, all prepared in a wide-open kitchen surrounded by seating.

Photo courtesy of Starbucks Reserve Roastery/Yelp

Continue upward and you’ll find what Starbucks is billing as its experiential coffee bar on the third floor. For coffeephiles looking to branch out from the basics, this is the space to do so, as dexterous baristas showcase their skills and the versatility of craft coffee. There are long counters for sitting and lounging, but especially learning, as this is clearly a social and educational space for connoisseurs.

Next up is the Arriviamo Cocktail Bar, where specialty Chicago-inspired drinks incorporate coffee and recipes curated by top-tier local talents such as Julia Momose of Oriole. There are also seasonal drinks (currently: pistachio buttered rum) and wine, beer, and booze-free barrel-aged coffees. The space is huge, easily one of the larger bars in the downtown area, anchored by a massive U-shaped bar and adorned with more tables and an additional retail space.

Photo courtesy of Starbucks Reserve Roastery/Yelp

Still to come is a fifth-floor rooftop, which is slated to debut in the spring and sure to offer some stunning views of Michigan Avenue and its surrounding skyline.