Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Intelligentsia Coffee
Founded1995; 27 years ago (1995)
HeadquartersChicago, Illinois
Number of locations
Key people
Doug Zell
Emily Mange
ProductsCoffee, Tea
OwnerJAB Holding Company
ParentPeet's Coffee & Tea

Intelligentsia Coffee is an American 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] They also have 2 stores in Boston and one in Austin, Texas.[10] 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."[11]

In 2009 Intelligentsia acquired Ecco Caffè of Santa Rosa, California, and has retained the brand.[12]

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.[13] The announcement came weeks after Intelligentsia had made known that it was seeking a private equity buy-out over $100 million.[13]

In May 2022 employees working in Intelligentsia's Chicago locations and Roasting Works warehouse filed a petition for union representation.[14] If successful they would hold a union election with an end goal of being represented by IBEW 1220, the same branch of IBEW that represents Colectivo Coffee Roasters.[15]


In 2006, Intelligentsia was included on several local[16][17][18] and national[19][20][21] best-of lists. One of their baristas also won national and international honors.[22][23]

It has been winning local best of list recognition from 2000 to 2005.[24][25][26][27] In 2005, the local[28][29][30][31] recognition extended to national[32] recognition. In 2006, Intelligentsia was included on several local[33] and national[34][35][36] "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. Archived December 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Intelligentsia in LA Archived October 28, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  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. ^ "Locations". Intelligentsia Coffee. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  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. ^ Chaudhury, Nadia (December 10, 2018). "Chicago Craft Coffee Roaster Intelligentsia Is Opening First Texas Cafe". Austin Eater.
  11. ^ Eng, Monica (July 9, 2008). "Small. Medium. Gone". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 9, 2008.
  12. ^ Dicum, Gregory (April 8, 2010). "Small Bay Area Coffee Roasters Spread Out". The New York Times.
  13. ^ a b Galarza, Daniela (October 30, 2015). "Peet's Coffee & Tea Buys Intelligentsia Coffee". Eater. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  14. ^ "Union sees grounds for organizing at Intelligentsia Coffee". Chicago Sun-Times. May 27, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  15. ^ Cadwalader, Zac. "Chicago-Based Workers At Intelligentsia Have Filed To Unionize". Sprudge. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  16. ^ #2 in Chicago Citysearch Best Coffee category 2006
  17. ^ AOL Cityguide - Best of Chicago 2006[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Chicago Magazine Best Coffee November 2006 Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ 10 great places to get jazzed about great java, USA Today, March 3, 2006.
  20. ^ Best boutique roasters 2006
  21. ^ Best Expresso Blend December 18, 2006 Archived January 5, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ ABC U.S. Barista Championship story May 10, 2006
  23. ^ U.S. and World Barista Championship results. Archived December 7, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Best Coffee Bar - Citysearch 2000 Archived December 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Best cup of coffee - Citysearch 2001 Archived December 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Best coffee - Citysearch 2002 Archived December 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Best coffee - Citysearch 2004 Archived December 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ AOL Cityguide Winner, Best Coffeehouse 2005 Archived October 28, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Best coffee - Citysearch 2005 Archived December 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ Chicago Magazine - Best Beans 2005 Archived December 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ Newcity Magazine Best place to buy beans and Best place to buy tea leaves Archived October 28, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ Best coffeehouse - Playboy April 2005 Archived December 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ "Best Coffeehouse" by New City Chicago for 2006 Archived October 28, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ Zagats 2006 America's Best Beverage Bets (Best Cup of Regular Coffee, Best Espresso, Best Seasonal Coffee or Tea Beverage) Archived December 3, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ Fastcompany.c0m - 12 Best Coffees Archived January 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ Roast Magazine - Roaster of the Year for 2007 Archived July 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]