On Nov. 15, downtown Chicago welcomed the world’s largest Starbucks. In the record-breaking shop, more than 1,000 people can be inside at once, including its expansive 200 employees. The store has five stories, with an outside terrace on the fifth floor. Each floor serves a different purpose, ranging from the coffee bar on the first to the actual alcoholic bar on the fourth.
I arrived at Starbucks at 12:30 p.m. on the day after opening day, in the hopes of slightly shorter lines. Turns out I was deeply wrong, as the wait time was an hour long. (But considering the store had reached capacity within 20 minutes in the opening day, with hundreds left still waiting in line, I convinced myself one hour wasn’t that bad.)
Upon entering the store, the smell of coffee was unavoidable. Starbucks nailed its crowd control, giving each person their own space to walk around and explore. On the first floor, there are tables lined by the windows where you can find Starbucks mugs, coffee blends, and even Starbucks designed jean jackets. There is also a working roaster on the first floor where you can watch the process and talk to the professional roasters as they operate the machines.
The store also has a curved escalator which rounds the 56-foot cask in the center of the store, giving off some serious Willy Wonka vibes.
The second floor is the home of Princi, an Italian-style bakery. A conveyor belt filled with the bakery items is designed to carry the food down to the first floor; it’s basically a Ferris wheel of pastries.
Although bakery items can also be found on the third floor, the main attraction is the Experiential Coffee Bar. I tried one of their brioche sandwiches, which are said to be served cold at this location as a way to preserve the flavors, and a cup of the Ethiopian coffee made with elevated brew methods. The sun-dried Ethiopian coffee is made with coffee cherries that ripen in the sun, giving the coffee notes of berries and chocolate (definitely a win in my book). They also offer a plethora of other exotic coffees, but at $15 a pot, I think settling for one at a time is the way to go.
The fourth floor is home to a bar that serves fun cocktails and drinks. The bar seating runs along the length of the room, giving visitors ample space to sit and order drinks. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to try any of these for review, but if you’re 21+ make sure to check it out!
The fourth floor also has views of the oak barrels that Starbucks uses to age their green coffee beans. The barrels are hand rotated by workers as beans are aged and used for roasting.
Plus, fun fact: Coffee beans are green before being roasted; they turn into the traditional image of a coffee bean toward the end of the roasting process!
The fifth floor leads to a rooftop terrace where visitors can sit outside with their coffee on days the weather permits. My favorite part of the fifth floor, however, was the view from the window before you reach the terrace. If you look down through the windows, you can see the fourth and third floors at the same time. If you think the picture looks cool, I highly recommend going to see this view in person.
If you’re interested in eclectic coffees, boujee stores, or just a regular cup of Starbucks, you will find exactly what you’re looking for here. This Starbucks is the perfect place for a date, outings with your friends, or a quick trip by yourself if you find yourself in downtown Chicago.
Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored by Starbucks, although I definitely wish it was!