• No ratings found yet!

Our Story

Intelligentsia is a specialty coffee pioneer, rising from humble Chicago roots to a company driven by curiosity, empowerment, and the never-ending quest for the most extraordinary coffee in the world. 

The StoryBegins in 1995

Doug Zell and Emily Mange just wanted freshly roasted coffee. It was really that simple. After moving from San Francisco to Chicago, they found that great-tasting coffee in their new city was surprisingly elusive. But instead of complaining or—even worse—settling for bad coffee, they hunkered down and wrote the original business plan for what would become Intelligentsia Coffee. Their dream was to open a café and roaster in the city’s emerging Lakeview neighborhood, and on October 9, 1995, the dream welcomed its first customers. Roasting their coffee in-store with a Probat L12, they honed their coffee worldview one bag of  Black Cat at a time, building slowly and seeking nothing less than perfection in every aspect of the business. Little did Doug and Emily know, they were launching what would become a fundamental sea change in specialty coffee in the United States. And by placing a deep emphasis on sourcing the most exquisite coffee available on Earth, paying a fair price for that coffee, roasting it with purpose and precision, and connecting with the community—both in Chicago and around the globe—their scrappy little coffee company would grow and help shape an entire industry. 

Intelligentsia Coffee


Fast forward to today, and Intelligentsia still holds these original values close, though at a scale that brings extraordinary coffee to tens of thousands of customers daily. Through coffee bars, training labs, and Roasting Works in Chicago and Los Angeles, Intelligentsia has a unique and growing presence in five American cities—Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York—with more to be announced in the future. Season coffee subscriptions and national grocery distribution bring Intelligentsia’s rotating selection of single-origin coffees and blends to customers around the world, while many of the world’s finest restaurants, hotels, and cafés proudly call Intelligentsia their house coffee. 

Intelligentsia Coffee