It's not often that we write so much about a coffee shop opening, but La Colombe isn't your average cafe. Even though it had no shop in the city, its coffee has already found its way into a collection of restaurants around town, including Next, GT Fish & Oyster, Sprout, Old Town Social, and Hannah's Bretzel. But you'll soon be able to sample it straight from the source, as the cafe plans to open in the West Loop on Friday. We were able to get a look around the space and also sit down with La Colombe's co-founder, JP Iberti.
Iberti first teamed up with Todd Carmichael in Seattle in 1985, and the two launched La Colombe Torrefaction in Philadelphia in 1994. Currently, there are three locations in New York and two in Philadelphia. Iberti explained that "simplicity is important with coffee," so the shop wouldn't be making any sandwiches or lunch items, though they will be bringing in a selection of pastries from Alliance Bakery.
The shop actually sits directly across the street from a Starbucks, but no one would ever confuse the two. The cafe features no merchandising, so you won't find any branded coffee mugs or shirts. In fact, there isn't even a menu; when you walk in, all you see is a counter. We were assured that they could make just about every coffee drink, with the exception of ones that use flavored syrups.
Though its a cafe, Iberti also described it as a workshop with local restaurants. He admits that coffee is a strange subject for chefs: "It doesn't grow in your backyard, but there has to be a connection." He hopes for the shop to be a "bridge between farm and kitchen," where chefs can come in and develop a coffee blend with the team at the cafe.
As we mentioned above, there is no menu, but you can take a look at some of the common blends available. Otherwise, check out our slideshow of the soon-to-open cafe.
La Colombe, 955 West Randolph Street Chicago, IL 60607