World’s largest Starbucks opens in downtown Chicago


Ryan Gilroy / The DePaulia

The largest Starbucks in the world opened on Michigan Avenue on Friday. It has 5 floors with a top-floor terrace.

There’s something contagious about the excitement surrounding an attraction that people deem worth lining up for.  The opening of the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Friday at Michigan Avenue and Erie Street has drawn huge crowds lining up for hours to see inside.

Many of those who passed by the large line outside wondered if it was worth the wait.

“I am so ready to be inside, but it’s cold and I kind of regret this decision already,” said Jack Arledge, a River North resident.

The requirement for entry is not insignificant, and probably discouraged many from participating.  Even once inside, the lines and waiting still delay the gratification of this experience. Waits to sit at the bar seemed to be over an hour throughout the day. David Blake, 35, said he and his party waited an hour and twenty minutes before being seated.

“It was a long wait, but worth it,” he said.

From the special Reserve Roast coffee beans to the unique coffee-themed mixology bar on the fourth floor, this is certainly the kind of all-in-one experience that one might expect.  The building can serve your desire for food, coffee, cocktails, merchandise and more.

“I have spent more than I thought I would already, and I still don’t have all of the things that I really want,” Frank Riter said. “I feel like I could spend a whole paycheck here and still want more.”

The bread baked for this location was delicious, well-crafted and traditional.  The coffee meets and exceeds the quality of the Starbucks name, offering a nice selection of options. The highlights of the food options, though, were the desserts and bakery goods. The tiramisu showcased almost everything that this attraction has to offer: wonderful pastry, delicious espresso and high quality, rich mascarpone cheese.

The cocktails served on the fourth floor are high-priced, but feature quality ingredients, are creative, delicious and many highlight the coffee that Starbucks is famous for. You can order pizza, beer and wine while you are on this floor.  The barrel-aged coffee beans are also located on the fourth level.

The space in the Roastery is clean, warm and open. Hardwood and low-rising countertops and furniture give it a modern feel and make the rooms feel larger and more comfortable. Floor-to-ceiling windows make the building feel less closed-off from the city.

The staff is friendly and excited, welcoming every guest with enthusiasm. The entire group seems dedicated to making the experience as fun and rewarding as it can be. They were attentive and helpful, even seeming grateful to have so many excited patrons.

Overall, despite the ordeal of getting into the building, many enjoyable rewards await inside. The experience goes well beyond coffee and scones, turning the idea of a coffee shop into a fully developed space, where one could essentially spend the entire day, albeit not without spending a whole lot of money.

This shrine to American consumerism is loaded with all that Starbucks could think to offer, some things not being available at any other Chicago location.

So, do we need a five-story coffee shop? No, I can’t think of a reason anyone would.  Having said that, the place is a lot of fun and a unique experience.