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Sparrow Coffee, A Favorite of Michelin-Starred Restaurants, is Arriving Downtown

The Loop’s new food hall, Forum 55, will serve the drinks

Sparrow Coffee is coming to Forum 55.
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Sparrow Coffee, a Chicago brand adored by several Michelin-starred restaurants. will soon be available in an unlikely space: a food hall. When Forum 55 opens (as early as next week) at 55 E. Monroe Street, baristas there will serve a special Sparrow blend, as well as espresso, and other specialties. Loop customers will also be able to buy the blend to brew at home. Founder Chris Chacko wants to give food hall customers a coffee experience comparable to one of his Michelin-starred clients.

Chacko founded Sparrow in 2012 and he supplies coffee to about 250 restaurants. The Publican, Grace, Fat Rice, and Oriole are among his clients. Chacko is notoriously particular on who gets to serve his coffee, so how did he end up in a food fall? Chacko said he was a bit skeptical when Forum 55’s owners approached him. But Sparrow now has the chance to give Loop customers a quality alternative to chain coffee shops. That appealed to Chacko.

Here’s a few facts about Sparrow and what to expect at Forum 55:

  • While purists — like Chacko — prefer their coffee black, the Forum 55 blend (likely to be a Sumatran blend with hints of cocoa nibs, fruit, and a little bit of earthiness) will also play nice with sugar and cream: “Maybe one of these days they’ll give up the cream and drink black coffee,” Chacko said. “But it will do well with additions.”
  • Forum 55 is giving Sparrow a lot of autonomy. Sparrow will train baristas and will get bring in their own brewing equipment. Most of the equipment is from Fetco, a pricey premium brand. Other equipment may be added, “if they can pull it off” Chacko hinted.
  • Chacko brings about 30 years of coffee-making experience. To start, they’ll serve their coffee in paper cups, but he’d like to bring in ceramic ware to heighten the experience, as the cup ware impacts the taste.
  • Forum 55 will feature a Market, and that where they’ll sell coffee beans for home use. The food hall’s breakfast stand is where customer can find brewed coffee. That’s an exciting prospect for Chacko as Sparrow expands its reach. A Naperville cafe should open in November or December. A 20,000-square-foot West Loop facility — it includes a roastery, and food lab — is coming along at 2040 W. Fulton Street.