Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea

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Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea
Industry Restaurants
Founded 1995
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois
Key people
Doug Zell
Emily Mange
Products Coffee, Tea
Owner JAB Holding Company
Parent Peet's Coffee & Tea

Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea is a US coffee roasting company and retailer based in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1995 by Doug Zell and Emily Mange, Intelligentsia is considered a major representative of third wave coffee. In 2015, Peet's Coffee & Tea (itself part of JAB Holding Company) acquired a majority stake in the company.[1]

History and locations[edit]

Aside from its headquarters at 1850 W. Fulton Street, Intelligentsia has several cafe retail locations throughout the Chicago area. They supply coffee to various Chicago-area cafes and restaurants, as well as other locations in the US and Canada.[2][3][4] They generally buy their beans directly from growers in Central America, South America, East Africa, and Ethiopia.[5] They currently[when?] operate four gas-powered Ideal Rapid Gothot Roasters at the Chicago Roasting Works. Two 90-kilo roasters and a 23-kilo reside in Chicago and a 40 kilo in Los Angeles. The machines date from the 1950s and were handcrafted from cast-iron and steel in Stuttgart, Germany.[5]

On August 17, 2007, Intelligentsia opened its first store outside of Chicago at Sunset Junction in Silver Lake, a district east of Hollywood in Los Angeles, California.[6] Intelligentsia has opened two additional stores in the Los Angeles area, in Venice and Pasadena.[7] In 2013, Intelligentsia opened its first store in New York City inside the High Line Hotel.[8] The second New York City location opened in June 2014, inside the Urban Outfitters store in Herald Square. This is the first location to offer a full food menu.[9] A 2008 decision to stop serving 20-ounce coffee and espresso beverages in stores was met with controversy. Zell stated that the proportions are altered at such large quantities and certain drinks become watered-down, arguing that 20-ounce drinks end up "masking and adulterating the pure, intense flavors we work hard to source, roast and produce. We don't want this to just be a caffeine delivery device."[10]

In 2009 Intelligentsia acquired Ecco Caffè of Santa Rosa, California, and has retained the brand.[11]

In October 2015, it was announced that Peet's Coffee & Tea would buy a majority stake in Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea by the end of the year, as part of an expansion of Peet's into third wave coffee that also involved the acquisition of Stumptown Coffee Roasters.[1] Intelligentsia was expected to continue operating independently, with founders Zell and Mange retaining a role in the company.[12] The announcement came weeks after Intelligentsia had made known that it was seeking a private equity buy-out over $100 million.[12]


The sidewalk cafe outside the coffee shop.

In 2006, Intelligentsia was included on several local[13][14][15] and national[16][17][18] best-of lists. One of their baristas also won national and international honors.[19][20]

It has been winning local best of list recognition from 2000 to 2005.[21][22][23][24] In 2005, the local[25][26][27][28] recognition extended to national[29] recognition. In 2006, Intelligentsia has been included on several local[30] and national[31][32][33] "best" lists.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Peet's rides coffee's 'third wave' with stake in Intelligentsia". Reuters. October 30, 2015. Retrieved October 31, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Hot" Chicago Restaurants get custom blends from Intelligentsia.
  3. ^ Intelligentsia in LA
  4. ^ Wicked Cafe in Vancouver, Canada serves Intelligentsia
  5. ^ a b Shernoff, Leon, "Intelligentsia, more Cedars, Come to Co-op", ever Green, March 2007, Vol. 60, #3.
  6. ^ Scattergood, Amy, "A Lucky Break For Drip Coffee", LA Times, March 14, 2007
  7. ^
  8. ^ Hancock, Alexander (May 8, 2013). "Intelligentsia's Very First NYC Outpost Is So Open". NY Eater. 
  9. ^ Morabito, Greg (June 9, 2014). "Intelligenstia Opens in Herald Square Urban Outfitters". NY Eater. 
  10. ^ Eng, Monica (July 9, 2008). "Small. Medium. Gone.". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 9, 2008. 
  11. ^ Dicum, Gregory (April 8, 2010). "Small Bay Area Coffee Roasters Spread Out". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ a b Galarza, Daniela (October 30, 2015). "Peet's Coffee & Tea Buys Intelligentsia Coffee". Eater. Retrieved October 31, 2015. 
  13. ^ #2 in Chicago Citysearch Best Coffee category 2006
  14. ^ AOL Cityguide - Best of Chicago 2006
  15. ^ Chicago Magazine Best Coffee November 2006
  16. ^ 10 great places to get jazzed about great java, USA Today, March 3, 2006.
  17. ^ Best boutique roasters 2006
  18. ^ Best Expresso Blend December 18, 2006
  19. ^ ABC U.S. Barista Championship story May 10, 2006
  20. ^ U.S. and World Barista Championship results.
  21. ^ Best Coffee Bar - Citysearch 2000
  22. ^ Best cup of coffee - Citysearch 2001
  23. ^ Best coffee - Citysearch 2002
  24. ^ Best coffee - Citysearch 2004
  25. ^ AOL Cityguide Winner, Best Coffeehouse 2005
  26. ^ Best coffee - Citysearch 2005
  27. ^ Chicago Magazine - Best Beans 2005
  28. ^ Newcity Magazine Best place to buy beans and Best place to buy tea leaves
  29. ^ Best coffeehouse - Playboy April 2005
  30. ^ "Best Coffeehouse" by New City Chicago for 2006
  31. ^ Zagats 2006 America's Best Beverage Bets (Best Cup of Regular Coffee, Best Espresso, Best Seasonal Coffee or Tea Beverage)
  32. ^ Fastcompany.c0m - 12 Best Coffees
  33. ^ Roast Magazine - Roaster of the Year for 2007

External links[edit]