A ComEd meter installation is all that stands between Oak Park resident David Silverstein and the phased opening of his craft coffee roasting company designed to honor the memory of his late wife with a philanthropic twist. If all goes well, Whirlwind Coffee, 513 Madison St., will be up and running in the old Gilchrist Hardware building by the end of February and donating to local organizations as soon as the business turns a profit.

Silverstein, who worked previously as chief operating officer at digital agency, Envisionit, has spent the last eight years primarily focused on stabilizing his family. Silverstein and his nine-year-old daughter Maya have been constant companions since Elana Ernst Silverstein died tragically in 2012 due to a medical error. 

“My wife was an amazing artist. She was an actor, singer, and voiceover talent with a heart of gold. She was always helping everyone she met,” said Silverstein. “After such a horrible and tragic loss, I wanted my work to reflect her values, celebrate the way she lived her life and surround my daughter with an example of her kindness.”

Whirlwind Coffee, structured like Newman’s Own, is technically a for-profit business.  After covering expenses and salaries, however, all net-profits will be donated to local charitable organizations. Silverstein is currently formalizing the process for dispersing future profits, but admits he needs to open the roastery to generate profits to give back to the community.

Silverstein, who is a fan of salvaging and revitalizing, was excited to purchase the former home of Gilchrist Hardware because of its rich history as a community-focused business. The former plumbing and hardware store has been remodeled to include a roastery as well as a café. Though a tasting room was part of the original plan, the global pandemic forced the business owner to re-evaluate his circumstances. Since he is personally interested in the roasting experience, Silverstein opted to delay the opening of the café in favor of getting the roastery up and running as quickly as possible.

Upon opening in February, Whirlwind will offer single origin beans and three signature blends for local pickup, online sales, and wholesale purchasing. The signature blends, High Kick, Shake a Leg and Killer Diller, aim to capture the spirit, moxie, and energy of the Whirlwind Brand.

High Kick features a custom blend of Guatemalan, Brazilian, Columbian and Ethiopian beans. Silverstein combines the beans before the roasting for efficiency purposes. The resulting blend boasts dark chocolate, almond, citrus and floral notes and comes in a bag featuring whimsical images of fruits dressed as showgirls created by Elana Ernst Silverstein. 

Trained as a roaster in Minneapolis, Silverstein fell in love with the chemistry of roasting coffee. A refurbished Sanfransican Roaster, designed for artisan coffee roasters, is at the heart of Silverstein’s business. The environmentally friendly small batch roaster has the capacity to roast 25 pounds of green coffee beans every 15 minutes. 

Silverstein says the act of roasting puts him at peace. He is confident Whirlwind Coffee will bring him closer to his daughter and the community all while generating ways to give back in thoughtful ways.

“Coffee is an emotional elixir,” said Silverstein. “A frequent companion throughout the highs and lows of life, it can be a kick in the ass when you need it most.”

To stay up to date on opening day details visit Whirlwind Coffee’s website.

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