Stumptown Coffee Roasters—the cult coffee company of Portland, Oregon (and Seattle...and New York...)—is in the process of opening a roastery and coffee bar in Chicago. Duane Sorenson, Stumptown's founder, has four locations he's currently looking at—two of which he's already drawn up plans for—and hopes to sign a lease in the next 30-60 days.
"I've been visiting Chicago for the past five years now, and I've fallen in love with the town," he says. "So, given that I have no other hobbies except for making people cofffee, I've been looking at the possibilities of setting up shop in Chicago."
Roastery is the key word. While a Stumptown coffee bar (as well as a training and education facility) is definitely part of the plan, the roastery is the bigger operation.
"The reason why we'd put a roastery [in Chicago] is just to stay away from shipping coffee. I really feel like, with our coffee, I really want to give folks not just an awesome bag of freshly roasted Stumptown coffee—i want to make sure it's the freshest possible...[I want to get] people coffee warm out of the roaster. "
Having a roastery in town also allows Stumptown to sell to restaurants—which, of course, is a big part of Stumptown's plan. Sorenson says he wants to be able to offer restaurants "a coffee unlike the other coffee companies are offering."
Could that "other coffee company" be Intelligentsia? Sorenson never named the coffee powerhouse of Chicago by name. But here's what he said when asked about them specifically:
"The increasing demand for truly specialty coffee...[has given] many high quality companies an opportunity to all survive and be able to give customers and coffee fanatics and afficianados more to choose from...so, you know, it's just like New York or Portland...we're all different and we're all able to be successful."
Sorenson declined to name the neighborhoods he's looking at, saying only that "they're all very attractive neighborhoods— neighborhoods that I'm going to want to live in, to make coffee [in]." When he settles on a space and signs a lease, he figures it will take six months or so to open (he already has those plans drawn, after all).
For Stumptown obsessives, those six months will be very long.