Today the Chicagoist blog published an interview with Intelligentsia founder and CEO, Doug Zell: Chicagoist: Chicagoist Grills: Intelligentsia Coffee & Roasting Works CEO Doug Zell.

Intelligentsia not only boasts some of the best roasted coffee in the country, and the reigning U.S. barista champion from one of their cafés, but they also helped set a standard for sustainable coffee growing. Last year Intelligentsia stopped doing business with Fair Trade, due to its many shortcomings, and instead developed their own standards and certification process, called Intelligentsia Direct Trade™.

In the interview, Doug reveals their plans to open a new café in Los Angeles, of all places (how he did so through an introduction by Chicago celeb chef, Charlie Trotter), how he got started in San Francisco selling bottled iced tea (he got his coffee inspiration from S.F.’s Spinelli Coffee, which was later bought out by Tully’s in 1998), and how Intelligentsia is customizing coffee blends for high-end restaurants.