As the tide falls for one coffee company on the ever expanding and shifting Chicago scene, it comes in from another. In a shop in the Logan Square neighborhood left dark after Bow Truss recently pulled out due to financial difficulties, another Windy City roaster has swiftly raised its first retail flag.
The turnkey opportunity, equipment and all, at 2631 N. Kedzie Ave. was an irresistible one for Passion House Coffee Roasters, a self-starting company that after quietly building for six years has found itself ready to break into retail to grow its brand. The shop is currently in soft open mode, with a grand opening scheduled for Monday, May 1.
“The foundation for the company is set. It’s awesome,” Passion House Founder Joshua Millman recently told Daily Coffee News. “It took a while to build it up, and now I’m comfortable that I can dedicate the time that’s needed to make the café part of the vision, and give it the attention that it needs.”
The shop comes readymade with a Rancilio Excelsius Classe 11 on the bar, backed by a Mahlkonig K30 Twin grinder and an EK43 to crunch beans into submission to a Fetco batch brewer and various manual methods. To minimize down time, modifications to the space have been minimal, especially since everything is functional enough to roll right away.
Meanwhile production continues to occur on the vintage 1957 Probat UG-15 in the city’s industrial Near West neighborhood, a few doors down from Intelligentsia roastery. “Our goal is to produce nuanced, complex and clean coffees, all while cultivating relationships rooted in understanding knowledge, skill, and mutual respect,” Millman said of PHCR’s goals for greens sourced both directly and through such importers as Red Fox Coffee Merchants and Keffa Coffee.
Millman said that he doesn’t see one method as necessarily better than the other, when it comes to working either directly with farmers or with small, passionate import companies that share Passion House’s priorities for equitable trade and high quality goods.
“Especially as a smaller roaster, developing a really great relationship with importers is key,” said Millman. “They’re like our foot soldiers out in the field.”
Passion House looks forward to translating their spirit of innovation into a selection of playful coffee-based mocktails for patrons in the Logan Square shop. Additional cafes are part of the grand plan, although Millman said he’s in no rush to jump into a second shop. More immediately, the company will use its boosted exposure from the first café to double down on wholesale.
“We love innovating and working on sourcing the best product in the best way, to expand our coffees that give our wholesale customers consistency and top quality,” said Millman, who also admitted that while he’s very excited about the talent he’s recently hired onto the team — particularly an experienced and gifted head roaster to spearhead production, freeing him to focus on growing other aspects of the business — he does miss his alone time with the Probat.
“Jumping on the roaster is for me almost like a vacation. You just get to be one with the coffee; I love it, I miss roasting a lot,” Millman said. “But you know, my focus is building the brand, spreading the word.”
Passion House Coffee Roasters Logan Square bar is open at 2631 N. Kedzie Ave. in Chicago.