What Is Starbucks Reserve?

You won’t believe your eyes when you see this Starbucks!

There are only seven Starbucks Reserve Roasteries in the world, and three of them happen to be in the US. If you’re an avid Starbucks aficionado, chances are you might have been to the original Starbucks Reserve, but have you been to the world’s largest roastery?

Where Is the Biggest Starbucks Reserve Roastery?

Chicago is home to the biggest Starbucks Reserve Roastery. It is a massive 43,000-square-foot, five-story java joint, and it opened its doors in November 2019. Once you cross the Roastery’s threshold, you’re in a totally different world. The aroma of coffee swells like music, and everywhere you look there’s something delectable calling your name.

The Rundown on the Roastery

The Chicago Starbucks Reserve Roastery boasts four floors and a fifth-floor rooftop. You can choose from three coffee bars (and one bar bar) and seven unique brewing methods including espresso, pour-over, coffee press, siphon, Chemex, Clover and cold brewing. The coffee is roasted by Starbucks’ Coffee Masters, who are the go-to experts for any questions, from bean origins to smoothest sipper.

Inside, you’ll find stunning feats of architecture, murals and the Roastery’s centerpiece: a 56-foot roasting cast. The cast allows you to see all of Starbucks’ process in action and doubles as a vehicle to get beans where they need to go via long pipes that run across the ceiling.

Floor One: Starbucks Reserve coffee bar and roaster

You’ll find all of your classic beverages, like lattes, cappuccinos and cortados on the main bar’s first floor. Before you order that PSL, you should know the Starbucks Reserve Roastery doesn’t serve the typical Starbucks menu. The sweet drinks you’re used to will be available at other neighborhood stores, but this one is reserved (no pun intended) for people who enjoy more traditional espresso drinks.

Floor Two: Princi Bakery and Cafe

On the second floor, you’ll find Princi, the prize of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. Founded by Italian baker Rocco Princi, the bakery and cafe offers fresh breads, cornetti and focaccia. You can also find your fill of cakes and tarts there, too (no word on whether there are lemon loaf and cranberry bliss bars here).

Need to grab your meal and get out the door? Princi has a conveyer belt that delivers your order to the first floor for you. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery is all about luxury and experience, so there’s no hiking stairs or needless elevator rides involved.

Floor Three: Experiential Coffee Bar

Starbucks Reserve Chicago Roastery Floor 3Courtesy Starbucks

If you’re craving a classic coffee experience, look no further than the Experiential Coffee Bar on the third floor. This coffee bar is where you’ll find most of your unique brewing methods, like siphon—a vacuum-style brewing method. You can also purchase flights of your favorites paired with delicious chocolates and savory goodies in this area. This bar also serves Roastery creations you won’t find anywhere else, so if you can only get to one bar, make sure it’s this one.

Floor Four: Barrel-Aged Coffee Bar and Arriviamo Cocktail Bar

The fourth floor literally takes coffee to the next level, combining your favorite rich flavors with a special barrel-aging brewing method. Enjoy a spirit-free coffee beverage made the way whiskey is, aged to perfection in barrels. This bar features classic cocktail copycats, like the Smoked Cold Fashioned or Minted Cold Brew.

Arriviamo serves hand-crafted, alcoholic cocktails made by local mixologists. Espresso-based cocktails? Yes, please! The menu includes your bar go-to’s as well as some local beers and wines. What sets this bar apart from others you might find downtown is that the specialty cocktails contain Starbucks Reserve coffee and tea, giving your caffeine boost an extra, well, boost.

Floor Five: Rooftop Terrace

The fifth floor is open seasonally, as it’s a rooftop terrace. When weather is nice, sit outside under the sun and sip an iced latte with beautiful views of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. It’s the perfect way to get a quiet reprieve from the bustling city below.

What Is Starbucks Reserve?

Starbucks Reserve beans are not the typical Starbucks beans you find at a local shop or a grocery store aisle. Reserve beans are sourced from various family-run farms, historic estates and co-ops around the world, according to the Starbucks Reserve site. The beans are ethically sourced and the farms they come from are environmentally sustainable.

Once the beans are ready for roasting, they are roasted in a special way that will unlock the full flavor potential of each batch. The roasting methods are determined by Master Roasters.

How Many Starbucks Reserves Are There?

As we mentioned above, there are seven Starbucks Reserves around the world, in six locations. New York currently has two Reserve Roasteries, one in the Empire State Building and one in Manhattan. The other locations are in Chicago, Tokyo, Milan, Shanghai and, of course, Seattle.

Can You Just Walk into a Starbucks Reserve?

You can walk right into a Starbucks Reserve Roastery to order coffee. There are workshops that require a ticket purchase and some tasting experiences that require booking a reservation, but other than that, you’re free to roam this coffee-lover’s playground.

Why Are Starbucks Reserves So Rare?

Starbucks Reserves are rare because they are a collection of uncommon coffee beans or limited batch beans. On a more grand scale (or should we say, grande?), Starbucks Reserves are also rare due to their roasting process and the artisanal journey the beans take before they’re ready for sipping.

At the Reserve Roasteries, for example, roasting is an art form rather than a necessary step to making coffee, distinct flavor profiles are brought out by complex brewing methods, and coffee cocktails are handcrafted by mixologists. No small detail is left behind.

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Rosemary Siefert
Rosemary is an editor at Taste of Home where she can combine her love of writing with her love of all things food. When she's not working, Rosie can be found curled up with a coffee and a book, testing a new recipe for dinner or trying a new dish at a local restaurant.