Intelligentsia Coffee

Season: One

Episode: Eight

Date: July 2016

The only thing more American than apple pie is… coffee. No matter where I am in the world, or where I’m going, I always start my day with a cup of coffee. Like me, for many of us, coffee is a big part of our life. But not all coffee is created equal. Doug Zell and Emily Mange founded Intelligentsia Coffee in October of 1995, with the goal of elevating the coffee experience with great fresh-roasted coffee. Little did they know then that their fledgling coffee bar on Broadway would evolve into the ever-beating heart of the “Third Wave” coffee movement, and spread to 10 locations across Chicago, New York and LA, as well as countless grocery stores, restaurants and independent retailers.

The term “Third Wave” was coined in 2002, and reflects a movement to produce high-quality culinary coffee, artisanal like wine, rather than a supermarket commodity or fast food. As one of the first companies to source coffee via Direct Trade, and one of the largest specialty coffee companies operating today, Intelligentsia has been incredibly influential in creating a slow coffee experience that focuses on the subtleties of flavor, varietal, and growing region.

From bean to barista, all stages of Intelligentsia’s process and production are artfully “scienced”—from working alongside growers, to sharing insights and expertise between growers (with their Extraordinary Coffee Workshops), to building a robust education platform for baristas preparing the coffee in all forms. Their beans and their brand are steeped in education and humility (with training facilities in Chicago, New York and Atlanta), but without bullshit or pretension. They strive to make their coffee revered, yet democratic and accessible.

At its core, Intelligentsia is affordable but luxurious, sensible but sensual. Their pour-over process is slow and carefully conducted, but totally worth the wait. And the result is a sweet, clean and fragrant coffee—a great cup every time.

In this episode of 12 for 12, Adam Voss heads to Intelligentsia Coffee to experience coffee that is not just caffeine delivery, but an experience that will forever change the way you think about coffee.