Intelligentsia has started with a small coffee house in Chicago in 1995. Intelligentsia is a leading specialty coffee company and has now grown to compete neck-and-neck with major coffee chains in last 17 years. The coffee company believes that everyone, from customers all the way back to coffee growers, needs to have thorough knowledge in what it takes to make a better coffee culture.

B  proudly presents its eleventh issue, with its own account on what has always been within reach — coffee.

Starbucks has grown over the past four decades to become a global coffee brand admired by numerous coffee companies. Personally, I was greatly inspired by Pour Your Heart Into It, the book written by Starbucks founder, Howard Schulz. In his book, Schulz mentioned that he knew he wouldn’t be the only American to fall in love with the Italian favorite, espresso. A simple passage that read, “If it captures your imagination, it will captivate others,” has stuck my mind and influenced me since reading it.

The coffee industry has shown steady growth with the introduction of fair trade practices by coffee companies big and small combined with the rising popularity of baristas. However, these are pending issues to address surrounding selection and distribution of coffee beans, given that there is a clear divide between rich and poor, as well as between coffee-producing countries and coffee-consuming countries.

In this issue, B features Intelligentsia, a coffee brand that is revered as an emerging benchmark in the coffee industry today. With a limited number of branded coffee bars operating in the United States, the name Intelligentsia itself may not be familiar to a vast majority of consumers. However, the brand is much celebrated within the industry. There are three important aspects of the brand to note, first of which is Intelligentsia’s unique policy called “Direct Trade.” The coffee company introduced a set of new trading practices by complementing what has been highlighted by giant coffee chains as part of their marketing strategy, namely “fair trade.” The ceaseless efforts Intelligentsia has been making are synonymous with the company’s passion. Second, Intelligentsia has endeavored to elevate coffee to the realm of “delicacy,” just as wines are perceived by the public. Similar to cooking with seasonal food ingredients, the coffee company has paid close attention to timing, such as when coffee growers can offer freshly harvested green beans.In addition, to maintain the vibrancy and freshness of the company’s coffees, single-origin coffees make up the majority of Intelligentsia’s offerings.

Numerous renowned restaurants have actively been part of Intelligentsia’s pursuit and now offer the company’s coffee on their menus, bearing the Intelligentsia brand. Third, the coffee company’s attitude toward interaction with customers at its coffee bars. While other coffee chains devise their own manuals for store interior design and present dull ideas, Intelligentsia comes up with ideas for simple and clean-cut designs to make each of its coffee bars “a part of the community.” For certain, the coffee bar’s interior design strategy is heralding a new trend. In fact, the company’s approach to interior design is so meticulously formulated via clear design ideas and intentions that numerous coffee chains have attempted to benchmark Intelligentsia’s design policy, only to find out how difficult it is to execute.

We are entering a period when I believe all business activities related to food and beverages will witness a shift in focus from emphasizing just the “taste” of food to rigorously questioning “by whom and where the ingredients were sourced.” Furthermore, coffee or restaurant franchises will begin to seek ways to make their stores blend seamlessly into the communities they are operating in. As long as one can be confident with where and how good ingredients are sourced and come up with ideas to the integrate more effectively into the community, a brand image as trustworthy as Intelligentsia’s can be established. This wouldn’t require secret recipes or massive investment in promotions from franchise headquarters.

Our editors have travelled to Chicago and Los Angeles to gain in-depth insight into Intelligentsia, with the sincere hope that this issue will provide a means for readers to delve into the coffee brand’s consistency in ethos and style, beyond the realm of simply showing their love for coffee.

PublisherSuyoung Joh

2 Intro

Coffee can be found just about anywhere today. However, the coffee culture has a relatively short history and still faces the need for a set of standards for what it takes to make great tasting coffees. This is what has motivated Intelligentsia into starting its coffee business.

10 Understanding

Although we pop into our favorite coffee bar every day, there may still be quite a few things to learn about coffee. Here we explore how extensive coffee can be in variety and how roasting influences flavor.

26 Into the Market

Intelligentsia currently runs coffee bars in Chicago and Los Angeles. B visited Chicago, home to the groundbreaking coffee brand, to have an inside look.

36 Manner

Somewhat disproportionate to the reputation and significance,Intelligentsia

operated only seven coffee bars in the United States. They are, however, packed with carefully chosen details that present a comprehensive take on the coffee brand. The company’s sincere in attitude impresses its customers who get to watch the coffee-making process. The bright design ideas further add uniqueness to the coffee experience.

52 Into the Culture

To learn more about Intelligentsia, B endeavored to find out the tastes and preferences of the company’s baristas. They also witnessed coffee expanding its scope to become a delicacy through fine-dining restaurants.

77 B's cut

Through the process of preparing coffee, Intelligentsia demonstrates its unmatched earnestness. B shines a spotlight on every step.

92 Brand Story

The founder and key figures were interviewed in Chicago and Los Angeles. They clearly expressed their thoughts on coffee and their brand based on their well-founded philosophy. B offers its own account of the minds of Intelligentsia’s leadership.

122 Outro

Many of Intelligentsia’s customers find themselves becoming part of the authentic coffee experience. In this issue, B hopes to pass on the beauty of what has become a cultural phenomenon of tremendous significance, coffee, to its readers.


Suyoung Joh
Editor In Chief
Taehyuck Choi
Art Director
Chiho Ghim
Deputy Editorial Director
Eunsung Park
Heather Yoo
Styling Editor
Insung Yoo
Guest Editors
Sojung Jung, Donghyun Seo, Eunkyung Lee, Jaeyeon Yang, Eunah Kim
Hany Oh, Jungho Lee, Donghoon Shin, Jihye Jeon
Contributing Editors
Hyeyoung Lee, Nari Park(U.K), Eaji Lee(JAPAN), Sungjoo Kim(GERMANY)
Kiwoong Choi
Hyekyung Shin
Juyeon Lee, Sunghoon Park, Shin-goo Lee
Onedoe Jung
Gieun Lee
Text Correction
Joyce Paek, Todd Sample, Heather Yoo
Hyungjin Choi
JOH & Company
Top Process


The official webpage of Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea
Intelligentsia’s Facebook page and official Twitter account
The official webpage of the International Coffee Organization
The official webpage of Cup of Excellence
Specialty Coffee Association of America
God in a Cup: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Coffee

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