2020 was slated to be a good year for Metric Coffee; 2019 had been the best year yet for the independent roastery co-founded in a garage six years prior by Xavier Alexander, a former roasting manager at industry behemoth Intelligentsia Coffee, and Darko Arandjelovic, the founder of Caffe Streets, an always-bustling and hip Wicker Park coffee shop.
What happens next is now a familiar story: a global pandemic, an extended statewide stay-at-home order, and shuttered cafes, bars, and dining rooms across Chicago. Alexander says he began to panic. His remaining wholesale orders were being canceled left and right. “We’re a small, employee-owned, local company,” he says about Metric, which continues to sell takeout coffee (and now doughnuts) inside a stall attached to its West Town roasting facility.