A new coffeehouse opened up recently in Rolling Meadows, IL. Coffee Planet (http://www.coffeeplanetinc.com/) sprouted up where Caribou Coffee left off. You may remember that Caribou Coffee went through a restructuring, and this location was one of the last investments they made. This was a very new cafe that was abandoned as they receded back to Minnesota.
Coffee Planet has been open for almost 6 months now. They do not roast on site, but provide coffee and espresso drinks using beans roasted by Chicago’s own Metropolis Coffee.
The cafe was already in good shape when the new ownership took over, and it does look like Jim and the Coffee Planet team are really trying to capture the spirit of the independent coffeehouse; it is so desperately needed in the Chicago suburbs.
From local art hanging on the walls to the chalkboard, drawn up and talking about the LOCAL happenings, Coffee Planet wants you to know that they are a part of this community.
They even have a retail offering section and everything from mugs to coffee and teas can be yours.
The cafe is spacious; there is plenty of mixed seating (work station or relaxing) and wi-fi available. There is a shortage of outlets in strategic places, but chalk that one up to the previous ownership. After walking around the cafe and being honestly pleased with what we saw, we headed over to the counter to order drinks.
We have come twice and had a somewhat mixed experience. It was evident on the day of our first visit, the team members working that day have drunk the kool-aid (or coffee in this case). We received warm welcomes from the family members on both visits; they introduced themselves (even before we talked coffee), but on the follow-up visit the team seemed disconnected, focused more on operational tasks than the caffeinds in their cafe.
On our first visit, the conversation was easy, honest, friendly and sincere. They engaged us completely, describing sit down versus take out on the sizes. It was a little confusing at first, but we appreciated the time they took to speak with us. They simply made us feel at home and at ease.
They are currently serving coffee using standard brew methods, the full array of espresso drinks, and Rishi teas. As you look behind the bar, and after speaking with Jim, he explains that they have invested in the equipment expected at a good coffeehouse: Chemex, AeroPress, V60 set-ups, Cold Brew, etc. Coffee Planet will roll out any remaining brewing methods in the very near future. Jim wants to make sure that the entire team can produce the best cuppa for their clients with each of the devices before unveiling them over the counter. The pricing for their coffee and espresso drinks is on par with most other coffeehouses in the Chicago market.
On both visits (in the later afternoon) to Coffee Planet we ordered the same drink, a 2% latte. On the first visit, we were asked if we were sitting down, or taking our orders to-go. After a few questions, we understood that they wanted to serve us in a mug, making the experience more homey, and also an attempt to show off some latte art.
Coffee Planet’s lattes are prepared with Metropolis Red Line Espresso. The taste was as expected, like sitting with an old friend and rekindling that friendship. The first latte was a little cooler than we expected, and the experience passed quicker than we had hoped. Even with that, it was an above average latte.
The second visit lacked the warmth of the first. The team member working behind the bar took a simple order, and served the drink in a paper cup. There experience was short and cold because of it; the latte was average.
With that said, we made our way back to the main cafe and sat comfortably. We lost track of time because we truly enjoyed the environment.
We are happy to see an independent coffeehouse in the Northwest Chicago suburbs, especially one going in the direction of Coffee Planet. It’s long overdue. Overlook the start-up hiccups, and join us there. We will be returning.