A Visit to the World’s Largest Starbucks. . . with Kids

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It’s the biggest Starbucks in the world, located smack dab in the middle of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, in the 35,000-square-foot former Crate and Barrel building. If you love coffee, you’ll want to pay your respects here, at Starbucks Reserve Roastery Chicago, a mecca of all things coffee, from coffee beans to coffee-infused cocktails. Even if your kids don’t yet appreciate a good cuppa Joe, they’ll love watching as coffee beans are sorted, roasted and then brewed via fancy, fiery contraptions. Settle in and enjoy an afternoon coffee date with your littles as they indulge in the wide range of over-the-top pastries.

photo: Starbucks via Yelp

Follow the coffee beans
As soon as you enter, expect to be overcome by the heady scent of coffee. Kids can watch as coffee beans are roasted, cooled and distributed throughout the roastery via a 56-foot tall, bronze-colored metal cask that extends from the top to the bottom floor. Ask your kids if they can hear the rainfall-like sound of the coffee beans as they journey through the cask.

photo: Starbucks via Yelp

The first floor is where you’ll find the quickest and most convenient coffee and pastry to-go bar. Take your pick from an assortment of Princi Bakery pastries, all artisanally-made with top-notch ingredients.

photo: Richelle T. via Yelp

While the pastry menu will change with the seasons, kids who want to give coffee flavors a try will want to sample the classic Tiramisu, layered coffee-soaked, house-baked ladyfinger cookies sandwiched with mascarpone cream. Princi is also known for its cornetti, an Italian take on the croissant, filled with a variety of jams and creams. At the full bean scooping bar, you can take home Starbucks coffee beans.

photo: Starbucks via Yelp

Travel up to the second floor along the cool curved escalator—the first in the midwest!—to the Princi bakery. Everything is baked here, then delivered by a fascinating conveyor belt to the first and third floors. The second floor’s menu extends beyond pastries to Princi’s Italian-inspired breakfast and lunch sandwiches, pizzas and salads.

Seating is available throughout the roastery; highchairs are plentiful.

photo: Samantha S. via Yelp

Coffee nerds unite!
The third floor is a coffee nerds dream, but even kids will enjoy watching moka brewed via seven different brewing methods, including the flame-powered siphon method brewing system. Parents will want to give a coffee flight a try here; kids will like the hot cocoa with extra whipped cream. (Warning: if your kids enjoy the fancy, fruity teas available at other Starbucks locations, they won’t find them here at the coffee-focused Roastery).

photo: Starbucks via Yelp

On the fourth floor, the bar, Arriviamo, serves not just coffee but also wine, beer, and signature cocktails. A fifth floor, rooftop terrace will open in the spring.

photo: Mural by Eulojio Ortega

It’s all in the details
Starbucks commissioned Chicago artist Eulojio Ortega to create a progressive mural that depicts the process that gets the beans into our venti-sized cups—including its planting, selection and processing. Take the stairs from the 1st to the 4th floor to watch the story unfold as Starbucks, with the help of Ortega, pays tribute to the dedicated farmers that keep us all caffeinated.

Look for the specially designed “Chicago” wall using Starbucks Reserve coffee cards. Each Starbucks Reserve coffee has its own unique card which is an original piece of art created by in-house designers and writers. You’ll find cards that represent Starbucks’ global Roasteries, including Milan, Shanghai, Tokyo, Seattle and New York.

photo: Araceli C. via Yelp

Referred to as the “clackerboard” because of the sound it makes when in motion, the large board on the first floor alerts vistors to what’s brewing that day and any special events.

photo: Kenny C. via Yelp

Plan a visit during off-hours
Lines here have been known to stretch out for more than three blocks and the massive space reached its 1,000-person capacity just 20 minutes after opening in November 2019. The rush starts late-morning, and the space can stay busy until close. Weekdays, early mornings, is the quietest time. The Starbucks Roastery Reserve Chicago is open 7 a.m.-11 p.m., seven days a week.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery Chicago
646 Michigan Ave.
Mag Mile
Online: starbucksreserve.com

—Amy Bizzarri


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