Startups and coffee go well together. Not just because co-founders are sleep-deprived, but because coffee helps people connect. It’s more flexible than a beer, less of a commitment than a glass of wine, and more appropriate than a martini in the mid-afternoon. As we moved through our design process, one of the things we heard consistently from entrepreneurs was that we should have great coffee available – for the experience, and for the connections.
We took that advice to heart. Those of you who have been on a tour of 1871 or who have seen the design plans know that one of the first things you see when you walk into 1871 is a coffee bar. If you’ve heard us talk about it, you know that we’ve been looking for a partner to operate that coffee bar – someone who is innovative, who understands the vision of 1871, who wants to contribute to the culture and community that we’re building, and (of course) who makes unbelievably great coffee.
I’m pleased to tell you that we’ve found our partner: Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea.
Intelligentsia is a Chicago entrepreneurial success. They began operations in 1995 and have been driving innovation across their business ever since. They continue to shape how the coffee industry partners directly with farmers around the world, designs coffee bars, trains baristas, and, of course, prepares coffee. They have retail locations in Chicago and Los Angeles, and their coffee is available throughout North America. Intelligentsia baristas have won the last four U.S. Barista Championships that they have competed in, and they are the only U.S. company ever to win the World Barista Championship. Last year, Intelligentsia’s founder and co-CEO, Doug Zell, was named the most influential person in the coffee world.
Since we first started talking to Intelligentsia about becoming our partner, I’ve gotten to know a number of their baristas and management. Just like Chicago’s digital entrepreneurs, they are fiercely passionate about every detail of their business. They are focused on driving innovation in their industry, delivering the highest quality experience for their customers, and they have a dynamic vision of changing the way the world views coffee. 1871 will be Intelligentsia’s fourth location in Chicago, and will be operated for the entrepreneurs and guests of 1871. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with them, and they’re just as excited about getting to know all of you.
(P.S. If you really want to geek out, you can watch Intelligentsia baristas perform here.)