My friend Janna and I are both studying for big exams (she is studying for the GRE and I am studying for the GMAT), so it was serendipitous that we took a break together to go on a coffee tour. I LOVE Intelligentsia coffee. I even created a list of my favorite places to drink Intelligentsia on my Yelp profile. I love the incredibly strong roast and its intense ability to give me a little extra boost even on those days when I don't think anything will help. There is some magical quality to the coffee for me whether I am brewing a cup for myself at home or heading to the Green City Market for a $1 cup of their organic brew. Frankly folks I love the stuff.
Imagine my excitement when several months back I was searching the Intelligentsia website and saw they offered tours of the roasting plant for $10. Great deal AND you get a half pound of fresh roasted coffee? Yes please! Of course I waited too long to buy tickets and missed out on the January tour date (it is only offered the first Saturday of the month) but luckily made the February cut. Who knew so many people would go ga ga for a coffee tour? Well, as luck would have it I purchased the tickets before the price went up to $15 a pop AND before it was featured in Time Out Chicago.
The main Intelligentsia plant is not as big as you might think. Yes, they supply coffee around the city to many of our favorite restaurants (see my Yelp profile for that lovely list again) and sell it at a variety of locations, but it is down right small even! The plant is located in the Kinzie Industrial Corridor (home to other such faves as Goose Island Brewery, Ashland Addison florist, and Diana's Bananas) and the sign on the door is so small my friends dropping me off there drove past it several times. Of course there were tastings of different types of coffees I think there were 6+ different brews for the participants enjoyment. The downside of this tour? Too many people! There were something like 40 over-caffeinated coffee crazed fiends.
Despite the crowds, I felt like I did learn a lot about coffee (as I'm no expert) from the beans growing, to the selection of beans from Rwanda to Peru (Intelligentsia is no longer fair trade because they feel like it was more beneficial for them to be involved in direct trade), to the roasting, to the blends and tasting. It is quite the process all to get a great cup of joe. Impressive.