We were going to write an elaborate about us section here, but then we realized that we probably couldn’t do any better than this article that Emily Taft wrote about us in the Morgan at Loyola Station blog. So here it is, about us, from someone else’s mouth.
Chris and Meghan Zimmerman love coffee… Talk to them for just a few minutes and there will be no doubt in your mind that they are truly passionate about it. The couple opened up Ellipsis Coffeehouse on March 30th, replacing Stella Espresso Company on the corner of Lakewood and Devon. The space has seen some sprucing up, such as some cool drawer shadowboxes decorating the wall behind the bar and warm splashes of red paint, but no drastic structural changes.
Chris has been in the coffee business for about nine years, getting his start in fast food coffee working at a Tim Horton’s. His first real opportunity to start experimenting with coffee came in college, when he helped open a small kiosk on his campus in Rochester, New York. “After that I thought I knew everything there was to know about coffee. But it turns out I knew next to nothing. And what I did know was wrong,” he says now, laughing. Then when Meghan got accepted to Northwestern’s graduate program, the couple moved out to Chicago and Chris started working at The Brothers K in Evanston. After that, Meghan says, he then went out and bought dozens of coffee books and was constantly reading and researching this new-found passion.
Though he loved working at The Brothers K, Chris says that the plan was always to open his own place. So, when he heard that the owners of Stella were looking to sell, he jumped on the offer, and Ellipsis Coffeehouse was created. The name itself holds a lot of meaning for Chris. While he himself uses the grammatical ellipsis in his everyday communication, the significance goes a little deeper, touching on his own philosophy about coffee. He says that there is always more to know about coffee, so he is constantly experimenting and learning. “It can always be better, and we want to get to that better,” Chris says. “I always say that practice makes better. There is no such thing as perfect.” “We are perfectionists who understand we can never reach perfection,” Meghan adds.
Though he has long-since abandoned his aspirations of becoming a math professor, Chris says he now considers himself to be a different kind of professor, a coffee professor. The goal of this education is not simply to demonstrate the baristi’s vast knowledge of coffee, but rather to help enhance the customers’ drinking experience. “There’s no reason all this knowledge should just be living behind the bar. We want our customers to be able to order exactly what they want,” Chris explains. “We want to be able to educate them when they want the education. Some people just want to come in for a cup of coffee, and we will give them that, but some people may want to know more about why we do what we do, and we want to be able to give them that too.” And Chris is of course not the only one doing the educating. The baristi, made up of some returning from Stella and some new hires, play an essential role in creating the engaged relationships with the customers. “They are all people who truly care about coffee and who are really willing to learn. They’re incredible,” Meghan says.
Chris’s vision of showing all that coffee culture has to offer seeps into every aspect of the coffeehouse. Ellipsis purchases its beans from Counter Culture. The roaster, based in Durham, North Carolina, values direct trade relationships with its coffee growers and strives to educate both the purchasers and consumers about the product they are buying as well as its producer. (In fact, if you are interested in learning more about Counter Culture and their coffee, they offer free Coffee Cuppings every Friday at 10am at their Chicago Training Center.)
When you come in to Ellipsis, you will see a collection of beautifully designed cards, provided by Counter Culture, that offer a short bio on each of the different beans they are using at the time. Chris explained to me that coffee beans are the seeds of coffee cherries, and are therefore seasonal, just like fruits and vegetables. That being said, Ellipsis will rotate their bean selection throughout the year to take advantage of whichever varieties are in season at the time. The coffeehouse also serves baked goods from Lovely Bake Shop. The owners, Bob and Gina, were longtime regulars of Chris’s when he worked at The Brother’s K. They supply Ellipsis with a variety of yummy treats, from perfect chocolate chip cookies to amazing cheddar and bacon scones. And if you’re wondering what kind of drink to get, I would say that my only recommendation is to talk to the person behind the bar. Chances are they know a whole lot about coffee…