From Bean to Cup

September 2017 View more

It’s hard to imagine a time when coffee drinkers had only two choices, cream or sugar. Or to remember when we marvelled at the efficiency of the six-cup coffee maker whose black, bitter brew was the norm. Thankfully, times have changed. And so has the art of brewing a cup of java.

Today, with an almost cult-like status, coffee is about an entire experience. Whether enjoying its warm ambiance, savoring the varied flavor profiles of single-sourced beans, cultivating new community relationships or sharing a commitment to eco-friendly practices, many coffee drinkers care as much about the artistry and taste experience of coffee as about the way it is made.

This past June, Naperville welcomed one of only twenty Starbucks Reserve Bars in the nation, and the first high-end store of its kind in the Chicago suburbs. After fifteen years on the southeast corner of Jefferson and Main Streets, the coffee icon relocated to a space almost four times its former size just across the street. Now on the southwest corner, the new Starbucks features its exclusive Reserve line of small-batch coffees from around the world.

Its aficionados—who have long since mastered the tongue-twisting, multisyllabic names for their coffee of choice—will be thrilled to discover a whole new vocabulary thanks to the latest brewing techniques like the Clover brewing system, a Chemex pour-over, coffee press, nitro taps, or a Siphon and Black Eagle manual espresso. Fancy a nitro cold brew with your Malawi Sable Farms cranberry and chocolate? Or an origin flight sampler? You’ve come to the right place.

Enter Sparrow Coffee Roastery, opening its doors on Water Street later this year, where master coffee roaster Chris Chacko takes the privileged few on a mind-altering gastronomic journey that begins with green coffee beans and ends—for many—with something akin to a religious conversion. With the complexity of fine wine, Chacko’s meticulously selected single-source coffee beans and innovative roasting and brewing techniques are enjoyed by only a few select Michelin-starred restaurants in the city, and one bakery, DeEtta’s, in Naperville.

“What I love about working with Chris Chacko, and the passionate team at Sparrow Coffee Roastery, is their appreciation and understanding of what we do at Sixteen,” says Executive Chef Nick Dostal about his acclaimed restaurant’s menu. “Instead of taking ‘the easy route,’ Sparrow takes the time to, and even insists on, setting up tastings or cuppings with myself and restaurant staff. They strive for a cohesive and symbiotic relationship between the client and the product.”

However, artisanal roasteries in the Fox Valley are proof positive that something wonderful really does come in smaller packages. Numbered among our region’s cozy, hand-crafted coffee venues like Kindred Coffee Roasters of West Chicago, FreshGround Roasters in Geneva, and Crazy Creek Roasters in Naperville, we see a shared passion not just about showcasing coffee in a fresh, new way, but for the experience of creating and fostering community.

In 2013, Kindred Coffee Roasters founders Ryan Hammer with Sarah and Patrick Harms, fired up their coffee roaster for the first time in the hope of achieving more than just an amazing cup of joe. Like many in their generation, they care deeply about fostering relationships in their neighborhoods and incorporating eco-friendly practices, as much as they care about crafting a delicious beverage.

“Aside from offering a specialty coffee experience—coffees that we could enthusiastically enjoy again and again,” says Hammer, “our primary hope is for Kindred to become a place where unique and vibrant relationships can form.”

Whether you prefer your special roast within the warmth of a cozy, neighborhood cafe, an exclusive boutique or eye-catching coffee icon, Naperville is blessed to have a front-row seat where we can enjoy them all.