U3 Coffee seeks to 'unite the world through coffee'

Like the drink on which Kristi and Craig Ross are focusing, their mission statement is bold.

After Kristi Ross' decades of success in financial services, options and futures, and the same with husband Craig Ross as an executive and consultant in the health care industry, the couple tired of “getting on planes and flying in opposite directions,” Kristi Ross said.

On Nov. 1, they launched U3 Coffee based on a shared love.

“Our mission is to unite the world through coffee,” said Kristi Ross, who measures her consumption in pots, not cups.

“Something that our whole family bonds over is coffee,” said Ross, who has three daughters including an Illinois State University senior and a senior at Oak Park-River Forest High School. “Coffee has been sort of my life blood for all of these years. It's fueled my late nights and early mornings. For Craig, coffee has been a cornerstone of his relationship building, and coffee is a catalyst for meaningful connections.”

The four-pronged business model for U3 Coffee came together after the Rosses researched an industry that produces 22 billion pounds annually, and visited farms such as Costa Rica's Tarrazu Estate, U3's “flagship bean.” It's got notes of milk chocolate and caramelized sugar with a hint of orange.

The goal is to create a coffee “ecosystem” that connects consumers with the farmers, co-ops, roasters and entrepreneurs by telling their stories and educating consumers about a product that, Kristi Ross said, passes between 40 hands from farm to cup.

“It comes down to that human connection,” she said.

Having purchased the 1,800-square-foot annex to the former Doc Ryan's Bar & Grill at 7430 Madison St. in Forest Park, the couple plans an April 2024 brick-and-mortar opening for U3 Coffee Roasters.

The building has a rooftop deck accessed by a staircase. Interior construction will begin this month on the cafe and coffee roastery, Kristi Ross said.

A full kitchen is not planned, though Ross said a menu is being developed to highlight “hidden gems” from local bakeries. She anticipates the cafe to be “experiential,” with coffee tastings and classes on roasting and brewing.

Other company cornerstones already are available online at

The U3 Coffee Exchange is a marketplace for U3's own coffees and also a platform to connect consumers with other sustainably farmed coffees, roasters and entrepreneurs.

U3 Coffee Media is intended to provide information about coffee and those who produce it. It features interviews of roasters, short articles about coffee, and space for coffee lovers to tell their own stories.

The U3 Coffee Bank is a charitable arm designed to support the farmers and roasters through innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. The Rosses are looking to work with schools for field trips to roasteries with an emphasis on business opportunities.

“We want to really bring empowerment to every bag of beans, to every cup,” Kristi Ross said.

A rendering of the sign for U3 Coffee Roasters, at 7430 Madison St., Forest Park, targeted for an April 2024 opening. Information, and coffee, are available at Courtesy of U3 Coffee
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