La Colombe – Brewing Up a Name

July 28 2013 - 1:43 PM

If you’ve never heard of La Colombe, it’s probably because they aren’t Starbucks. In fact, there is a lot that differentiates this Philadelphia-based coffee roaster from the massive coffee chain. La Colombe touched down in Chicago in May 2011 with a West Loop cafe on Randolph’s restaurant row, as well as partnerships with many restaurants across the city. It has worked hard to really distinguish itself from the other major coffee roasters in Chicago and with fierce competition from local favorites, Intelligentsia and Metropolis, they have to.

La Colombe began increasing its presence in Chicago via word of mouth, all stemming from a relationship with its first client, The Bristol in Bucktown. The restaurant partnership allowed La Colombe to form partnerships with other restaurants across the city and quickly, the high quality coffee spoke for itself. .  

La Colombe’s founders, Todd Carmichael and Jean Phillippe Iberti take a  direct approach to coffee from the culinary world. They focus their flavors on the different types of cuisines they experience when dining out and try to match their coffees to go with those cuisines. The ambiance of their cafes are also strikingly unconventional. Todd and JP are purists when it comes the cafe experience. They really want patrons to focus on the coffee and engage in conversations with baristas (there are no menus), rather than burying their heads in a book. Even the furniture is meant to prop you up and engage in conversation–you won’t find  oversized velvety chairs here. All in all, the ambiance is really designed to bring the focus back to the coffee.

Something else most may not know about La Colombe is their commitment to ethical trade. They’re one of the leading proponents of long-term and ethical trade with coffee growers and focus on five principles of trade most importantly including treating farmers fairly and dealing directly with farms in order to establish longstanding relationships.

So what’s next for La Colombe? They’re currently in the process of opening a second location in Bucktown near the blue line stop after results of a client poll indicated that was the most-desired location. You can also try La Colombe’s coffee offerings at this year’s Lollapalooza music fest. La Colombe is also set to expand with four new cafes this year throughout the U.S. including new locations in in Philadelphia, New York, and D.C. Plans are also in the works to open a rum distillery in its Fishtown, PA cafe.

Have you tried the coffee at La Colombe? How do you think their cafe stacks up?