Intelligentsia Co-CEO Rob Buono’s Favorite Things

CRAFTS MAN: The stylish new co-CEO of the beloved coffee company tells us about items he loves—some of which he owns and others he is coveting right now.

Rob Buono
Buono in his Bucktown loft with a gouache painting by Laura Scandrett

Rob Buono knows a thing or two about artisanal products. As the new co-CEO of Chicago’s Intelligentsia and owner of the organic Granor Farm in Three Oaks, Michigan, he is responsible for some of the highest-quality coffee and produce in the Midwest. A former lawyer and real-estate developer, Buono, 48, grew up in small-town Minnesota, eating primarily food that he and his mother raised on their farm, where she also ran a preschool. He credits her and his father, an Italian tailor and designer, for fostering a passion for the simple, well crafted, and ethical.

Those principles guide Buono’s aesthetic choices too. See below for 20 things he loves—some of which he owns and some of which he’d like to.

 

 

20 Things He Loves

EVA SOLO CAFÉ BREWER
EVA SOLO CAFÉ BREWER ($90, Intelligentsia Coffeebar, 3123 N. Broadway)
“I like it for its simplicity. It’s easy to clean, and it’s attractive enough to leave out in your kitchen.”

 

CZECH AIR FORCE WATCH
CZECH AIR FORCE WATCH
“I found this 1938 Longines watch at a street fair in Santa Fe for $300. I like its simple face.”

 

ICEBREAKER MERINO WOOL T-SHIRT
ICEBREAKER MERINO WOOL T-SHIRT ($60, icebreaker.com)
“It’s my base layer even when I’m not skiing. It keeps you dry, and it doesn’t smell.”

 

McCormick Farmall tractor
McCORMICK FARMALL
“This 1942 tractor has a great design. It’s open at the base, which allows you to actually see where you’re tilling.”

 

HERRINGBONE OVERCOAT
HERRINGBONE OVERCOAT
“My father designed and sewed it 40 years ago, and he wore it all the time. It reminds me of cold Minnesota winters.”

 

Photography: (all except tractor) Anna Knott

 

Gregory Lomayesva painting
GREGORY LOMAYESVA PAINTING
“The artist blended rejection letters from galleries that wouldn’t show his work into the background.”

 

Poetry Foundation Building
POETRY FOUNDATION BUILDING
“John Ronan’s new building (61 W. Superior St.) is a great addition to Chicago. The whole aesthetic is beautifully executed.”

 

'South with Endurance' book
SOUTH WITH ENDURANCE ($50, barnesandnoble.com)
“This book’s photography is of Ernest Shackleton’s almost 900 days on the ice pack—a remarkable story of perseverance in the days before Gortex, GPS, and sat phones.”

 

FOLSOM SKIS
FOLSOM SKIS ($1,200, folsomskis.com)
“Folsom makes custom skis. I’m intrigued with the idea of speaking to the craftsperson who is going to build them.”

 

JOURNEYMAN RYE WHISKEY
JOURNEYMAN RYE WHISKEY ($30, In Fine Spirits, 5418 N. Clark St.)
“Two young guys opened an organic microdistillery in an old factory in Three Oaks, Michigan, making products that aren’t as homogeneous as other things on the shelves.”

 

Photography: (skis, whiskey, South with Endurance) courtesy of vendors; (painting) Anna Knott; Rendering: Courtesy of John Ronan Architects

 

Christopher House logo

CHRISTOPHER HOUSE
“I’ve been involved with the organization pretty much since I moved to Chicago, mainly the early childhood component from birth to five years old. It’s a wonderful place with unbelievably dedicated staff.”

 

Otis, Buono's chocolate lab
CHOCOLATE LAB PUPPY OTIS
“Other than a brief time in college and some time after that, I’ve always had a dog. If we didn’t live in the city, I’d have five of them.”

 

Architectural plans of Granor Farm Buildings
ARCHITECTURAL PLANS OF GRANOR FARM BUILDINGS
“Dan is an immensely creative and talented architect, one of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. I find these drawings interesting because they mix the new and old. These new contemporary buildings are conceived from hand-produced drawings, which is now a rarity.”

 

Cook's knife
WUSTHOF KNIFE (TRADITIONAL STYLE)
“Growing up, we had a knife very similar to it, but I’m not sure what happened to it. This more or less replaced it, and it has a great balance.”

 

'Habitat Machines' by David Trautrimas
THE DAVID TRAUTRIMAS’S HANDMADE BOOK
“In Santa Fe, there’s a very small gallery that primarily exhibits photography next to a coffeeshop we like to go to. I just thought his work was very unusual and unique, the way he takes modern or common day appliances and transforms them into buildings through photography.”

 

Photography: (logo, knife) courtesy of vendors; (all others) Anna Knott

 

Allan and Jeanne Sexton, founders of Meadow Haven Farm
MEADOW HAVEN MEATS (meadowhavenfarm.com)
“One of my favorite producers at the Green City market [at the Peggy Notebaert Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Dr.] is Meadow Haven. They do organic poultry, pork, beef and eggs. One of my favorite dishes is grilled porkchops with either homemade apple sauce or a mint, tomato, and peach chutney.”

 

Wool sports coat by Issey Miyake
WOOL SPORTS COAT BY ISSEY MIYAKE ($1,380, Santa Fe Dry Goods, santafedrygoods.com)
“I recently received it as a gift from my wife, and I only wear it on special occasions.”

 

Ernst Benz Chronoscope Automatic watch
ERNST BENZ CHRONOSCOPE AUTOMATIC ($3,150, Moyer Fine Jewelers, moyerjewelers.com)
“I like the face because it’s simple and symmetrical.”

 


FORGED STERLING SILVER RING WITH A BRUSHED OXIDIZED FINISH BY ANN CHIKAHISA ($175, chikahisastudio.com)
“The ring was an anniversary gift from my wife. Ann is very talented—her work reflects her personality: engaging, creative, and honest.”

 

Chip Foam Yoga Blocks
CHIP FOAM YOGA BLOCKS ($12, halfmoon.bz)
“I hope one day to touch my toes—without bending my legs.”

 

Photography: (Sextons) ©Meadow Haven Farm; (all others) Anna Knott

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