Roaster Feature: Metropolis Coffee Co.

FOUNDED IN 2003 -Metropolis Coffee Company opened its doors in winter 2003 on Chicago’s north side. Originally designed to be a neighborhood coffee roaster and retailer, Jeff (the father) roasted the coffee and Tony (the son) ran the cafe. Jeff had apprentice-roasted in Seattle, and Tony had cut his retail teeth at Peet’s Coffee and Tea in Portland Oregon. Word spread pretty quickly, and Metropolis quickly became the destination for great coffee on Chicago’s far north side. Wholesale accounts slowly trickled in until 2007, when Metropolis won the prestigious Roast Magazine Roaster of the Year award. After receiving the award, wholesale began to grow significantly, and Metropolis pivoted to become more focused on wholesale.

In 2008 production had stretched beyond capacity, so Metropolis moved to a larger roasting facility, which included a training center, proper sample roasting and cupping lab, and offices for support staff. Metropolis continued to grow, but always organically, without much in the way of marketing or sales, relying instead word of mouth - friends telling friends. In the future, we will grow, sure, but we will only grow as much as we can handle with a smile, with customers who we respect, with amazing coffees from amazing farmers, and without forgetting for a second the terrific people who have helped us get this far. Lets do this thing together.


We apply the campsite rule to purchasing coffee – leave it better than you found it. As such, we only work with growers who are as committed to ecologically sustainable farming as they are to producing quality coffee. Over the years, the close partnerships we have developed with growers across the globe have enabled us to get our hands on some truly beautiful coffees.

We are not coffee farmers! Nor do we think that we should tell coffee farmers how to farm. That is not our place. Instead, we share our evaluative criteria with coffee farmers and buy what shines on the tasting table. We are known to be extremely hard on samples, rejecting over 95% of samples receive, buying only the best, most sustainably produced beans. If a coffee makes it through our evaluative process, we purchase only as much as we think we can sell before the freshness fades. Our menu is seasonal – single origin coffees rotate according to seasonal vibrancy, and we adjust blend components based on seasonality as well.



We take to heart that we are part of a long chain of growers, processors, retailers, and bariste who want to do right by the coffee. When we buy a coffee, we buy it for a reason. For example, it could be an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe with jasmine aroma and lemony acidity, or a creamy body Colombia with cherry sweetness. We roast to unlock the potential of the coffee – nothing more and nothing less. We call this roasting to the coffee, rather than roasting to the roast.

We constantly strive to improve our craft. As part of that effort, we employ three stages of quality control before we release a coffee as Metropolis Coffee.

During the roast, the roaster pays close attention to the batch, carefully monitoring the sight, smell, and sound of the coffee, along with temperature over time. If the coffee does not meet our criteria during the roast, we donate it to charity.

After the roast, we run a small sample through a laser color analyzer. If the coffee’s internal and external color is not within our small tolerance, we donate it to charity.

We cup (taste) our results to make sure that we are roasting to the flavor potential of each coffee. It is during these QC cuppings that we make minute changes to the way that we roast in order to accommodate subtle changes in the coffee over time.

Try the Metropolis Coffee Company selection for yourself. Free shipping on all orders over $35 all the time.

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