Get to Know Intelligentsia Coffee

Get to Know Intelligentsia Coffee

In 1995, Intelligentsia decided that the best way to get fresh coffee in Chicago was to roast it themselves.
by Team Trade | April 25, 2019

Old enough to have a college degree, Chicago's Intelligentsia Coffee uses its smarts to consistently roast the best in the business.

How did you get started roasting?

We got our start in 1995 when we saw a gap in the Chicago market for freshly roasted coffee. We opened our Broadway location in the neighborhood of Lakeview, Chicago with a roasting machine in the center of the coffee bar. There was no question you were getting the freshest roasted coffee.

Why the name “Intelligentsia”?

The premise was that in many cases a society’s intelligentsia were the thought leaders. Also, they frequented coffeehouses known as 'penny universities'!

Tell us about your relationship with your producers

Our partners are like family to us. They are committed to transparency, relentless pursuit of quality, and are capable of producing truly extraordinary coffees — not just once, but year after year. When we find that combination of ambition and ability, we invest for the long-term to grow together with our partners.

Tell us about your new packaging.

Our new packaging brings a bolder, more meaningful creative vision to our bag portfolio. Creativity is at the very heart of Intelligentsia, from the work we do with our coffee partners at origin to how we brew each individual cup and deliver exceptional coffee culinary experiences — and is now communicated through purposeful vision and design.

What has been the biggest change in third wave coffee over the past 25 years?

The supply! As a consequence of all the investment in the specialty coffee supply chains over the years, it is easier than ever to find good coffees. Which is why we changed our own sourcing habits 20 years ago and started building relationships directly with farmers because we quickly realized great coffee is not the result of chance and quality starts at the source.

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