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Our Story

  • by Joshua Millman

It all started with that first cup of coffee at the ripe age of 16.

I grew up in a suburb outside of Chicago, and inspired by the Beatnik generation and their commitment to community and conversation, I chose to immerse myself in everything that Chicago had to offer. Engaging in that unique space where artists loved being artists and found ways to share their works and experiences transparently with each other, I had never felt anything like it, and at that moment, though I wasn’t sure where it would lead, I knew somehow that I had found my home.

Joshua owner roasting coffee

Over the last two decades, coffee has taken me around the globe, exposing me to various cultures that will forever have an impact on my life. After working as a barista in Chicago, I ventured west to San Diego where I helped open and manage a café in downtown, and though the west coast was truly one of the most amazing places I had ever been, the heartbeat of the Midwest (and in particular Chicago) beckoned me back. In 2011, I returned home and set out to build a Chicago coffee company with a focused and simple DNA – beans treated with respect at every step of their journey from seed to cup, combined with an inclusive culture and attitude that welcomed others while inspiring people to follow their dreams. Ten years later, I can proudly say what we have built as a team is something that I cherish at my core, and I truly can’t wait to see what the next ten years and beyond have in store.

Music and Chicago culture are at the center of the inspiration for Passion House. In my day-to-day life, I am constantly analyzing my actions, my coffee, my food, my words and how I collaborate and connect with people. I’d like to say I turn off, but I’m not sure I can say that honestly, and though sometimes it’s exhausting, the wheel is turning and it doesn’t seem to ever slow down. But music has always served as a place of respite for me. Whether at a concert or club, I’m able to disconnect just enough and the music serves as a primary source of what drives my thoughts, emotions and ideas. Whether by myself listening to headphones, DJing a party or in a sea of thousands of people, music has a way of resonating through my entire body and I truly feel as though I am as centered as ever. Music eases my fears, shepherds my thoughts through the darkest corners and valleys of my existence and reminds me to be nicer to myself and practice self-love, which seems to have a direct effect on how I treat the people that are part of my life.

Joshua owner testing beans

All of our coffees are directly tied to music. Whether named after our hometown (Chicago House Blend), a character in one of my favorite songs (Milly Grace), one of my favorite places in Chicago to take a stroll (LSD Blend – short for Lakeshore Drive), or a song reminding me to stop and slow down every once in awhile (Take It Slowly), every coffee we roast has a purpose and connects us, and hopefully our customers, to various aspects of our experiences that have become instrumental pillars in the fabric of our lives. We also find ways to continually connect with our community, and our coffee collaborations with various partners and non-profits is a key component of who we are and what we value most.

When I started out to ensure people had the best coffee experience possible, I realized that not everyone likes the same coffees. Not a shocker to most, but giving our coffees a space to live that defined what they are and why they exist was a big part of Passion House’s evolution. Most of our coffees are single-origin, which means they come from one distinct place around the globe and highlight the unique terroir of that region. Terroir is a French word that means the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate. It originated in the world of wine, but it has a true place in the coffee landscape, and we are proud to highlight these places and the growers behind these spectacular beans. It’s a huge part of why we do what we do, and our commitment to maintaining long standing relationships, and continuing to search for beans from the best regions and the best growers is key to our products success.

Passion House Roasting

Our genre system helps each of these coffees exist in a space that is truly theirs. Our Ambient coffees are blends that are available year-round and highlight regions that feel complement each other when joining forces. These coffees have a well-defined flavor profile and we take these opportunities to create coffees we believe stand out above the crowd and spotlight our knack for roasting and blending. They are the cultural melting pots of our coffee universe. Our Mainstream coffees are seasonal, single-origin coffees known for their balanced flavors and accessible flavors. Each coffee is roasted to the degree that highlights cultivar and terroir. Cultivar speaks to the generic variety of the coffee itself, producing flavor profiles that are consistently unique to the region they are born. Last but certainly not least, Experimental coffees are where we try and put a little bit of our own innovative stamp on the coffee world. We love being part of a young industry that continually tries to push boundaries, and these limited edition single-origin coffees are sourced from farmers that use experimental processing and growing methods, which translate to new and exciting coffee drinking experiences for everyone to enjoy. All of our coffees are available by subscription, and whether you want 12 ounce bags for some variety or find your flavor and roll deep with our 5 pound bags, we’re here to make sure you have exactly what you love to get your day going.

But when we get down to the nitty gritty, the team we have built at Passion House is the thing I am most proud of. People are the lifeblood of this company, and their commitment to each other, the product and creating the best experience for all is what we strive to achieve every day. We are proud to serve you at one of our two locations (Goose Island & Logan Square), and our Roastery in East Garfield Park will soon be open to the public as a café as well. We look forward to meeting each and every one of you, and are so appreciative of the customers that continue to show that what we’re doing has value and impact. We wouldn’t be here without you, and the next time you’re in one of our locations, or happen to be enjoying a cup of Passion House coffee at your home with family and friends, we encourage you to close your eyes, drink up and immerse yourself in the experience that is Passion House.

We encourage you to sit silent in the morning, have a cup of Passion House coffee and catch your breath. Thank you for being you and we look forward to the moment we get to share our commitment to coffee, community and culture with you.

Bags of Beans

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