Details You Didn't Know About Intelligentsia Coffee

Intelligentsia Coffee was started by two friends after a move from San Francisco to Chicago, according to the company website. Upon their arrival in the Windy City, Emily Mange and Doug Zell found the local coffee scene to be lacking very many of the high-quality, freshly roasted varieties they had enjoyed together back in California. After fruitlessly searching for the perfect cup, the pair embarked on a mission to open their own cafe with the type of coffee they were craving and be the change they wished to see in the coffee world.

The first Intelligentsia Coffee cafe was opened on October 9th, 1995, in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. This location made a name for the company by roasting their coffee beans in-store, beginning with its Black Cat blend. A huge part of the Intelligentsia Coffee business model was (and still is) paying fair prices for high-quality coffee sourced from all over the world. The company emphasizes the importance of connecting with the communities they have chosen to be a part of, both locally and worldwide, and roasting every bean with care and dedication to the craft.

Intelligentsia Coffee was sold in 2015

In 2015, Intelligentsia Coffee was sold to California-based coffee company Peet's Coffee & Tea, causing many to question whether or not the new ownership would change the brand's reputation as a true Chicago institution. In response, founder Doug Zell told Eater Chicago is "a great city, it's a great coffee culture that exists here, we do like the other places where we operate, but this is where we're from." 

Zell reassured the Chicago community responsible for Intelligentsia Coffee's success that the new ownership would not change the heart of the Intelligentsia mission. He stated that Peet's would simply be able to offer more money, connections, and business knowledge to the brand, allowing Intelligentsia Coffee to grow beyond what they previously imagined possible. Peet's CEO David Burwick confirmed Zell's assertion that the brand would remain autonomous, saying, "Intelligentsia is not moving, they're not going anywhere. They're going to continue to be run by Doug and Emily and the rest of the team here and maintain clean independence from Peet's to do what they do really well."

You can get Intelligentsia Coffee delivered to your door

Today, Intelligentsia Coffee locations can be found in five major cities across the United States: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Bags of the freshly roasted beans are also sold in grocery stores nationwide for fans of the coffee company who live outside the five metropolitan areas with an Intelligentsia Coffee presence. The brand's coffee beans are also brewed in select restaurants, hotels, and cafes throughout the world, bringing their vision to a wider audience of coffee connoisseurs.

Want Intelligentsia Coffee but can't find it at a store near you? The brand now offers a subscription service, which allows devotees worldwide to enjoy their seasonally rotating selections of coffee blends and single-origin roasts. As reported by Foodbeast in 2015, the company's 12-ounce coffee plans will run you $14 to18 depending on which type of coffee you choose. Shipments can be received as frequently as once a week to as little as once per month. The subscription service also offers a five-pound bag option for true coffee fiends, which costs from $80-106.