About US


About Big Shoulders Coffee

Fresh roasted, no-nonsense artisan coffee.

Big Shoulders Coffee is born out of a love for learning about people, food and culture. Founder Tim Coonan began as a chef training and working at some of the most prestigious restaurants in New York, France, Italy and Chicago. His love affair with coffee goes back to the 1980s when he went on origin trips and studied roasting techniques. What began as a hobby roasting beans in his garage has evolved into Big Shoulders Coffee.

You can taste a chef’s attention to detail in every roast of beans and every brew of Big Shoulders coffee. Beans are sourced from farmers we have grown relationships with and roasted specifically to preserve the integrity and essence of the coffee for a truly authentic experience. We brew the coffee with down-to-the-second precision. You’ll taste the difference.

More than Coffee

Life is a thrilling, hectic, sometimes exhausting adventure. That’s why Big Shoulders Coffee is designed as an ideal “third place.” Somewhere separate from home and work, where you can go for comfort and a chance to relax. Our locations are sanctuaries where you can enjoy the smells and tastes of our freshly roasted coffee in a welcoming environment.

A Culture that Mirrors Chicago

Hospitality is equally important at Big Shoulders Coffee. We truly value service, kindness and manners. Just like our fellow Chicagoans, we work hard without pretense. Our only goal is to bring you the best coffee possible in a welcoming atmosphere.



Tim Coonan, Founder of Big Shoulders Coffee

Tim Coonan’s 35+ years working in hospitality has taken him around the globe, training and working at some of the finest restaurants in the world. But in his heart, he’s a Midwesterner.

Born and raised on a farm in Indiana, Tim remembers the joy of growing up in a real farm-to-table environment. His love of flavors and cooking were discovered at the family table and from PBS chefs like Julia Child and Graham Kerr.

After high school, a yearlong bicycle trip took Tim from Indiana to California and back, landing him at White River Coffee Company in Indianapolis.  This is where he first learned to appreciate coffee under the guidance of Steven Quigley owner of White River Coffee and Tim’s mentor.

At 22, he left coffee to pursue a career as a chef, working in France and Italy. He apprenticed in Avignon, France at the Michelin two-star restaurants Chez Messonier L’Ermitage and Le St. Didier as well as the notable Le Petit Bedon. Tim headed back to the states and earned an AOS degree from Johnson & Wales University, graduating at the top of his class.  He won a coveted internship at the Rainbow Room in New York City, where he continued his career after graduation.  

He returned to the Midwest and became one of Chicago’s most accomplished culinary professionals. He began as a Sous Chef at Gordon in 1990, and then later became Chef-de-Cuisine at Spiaggia, widely considered one America’s premier Italian restaurants. In 2000, he began a long relationship with P.F. Chang’s as a partner and regional chef where he became a student of Asian culinary traditions. When Tim and his wife Patricia had a daughter, he stepped away from operations and taught at Washburne Culinary Institute. 

Throughout his career, his love for coffee continued to grow until he found himself roasting coffee in his garage.  At first, it was just for personal enjoyment. Then it expanded into gifts for family and friends, then for his block, his neighborhood, and now his city as the Big Shoulders Coffee of today.