A few people in Paris, including my friend Leigh, spoke to me about La Colombe. La Colombe is a coffee roaster from Philadelphia who has open a few coffee shops in their home town, in New York (Manhattan – two on Lafayette, one on Church – the one I visited today) and I guess in a couple of other places.
La Colombe was created 17 years ago by a duo (Todd and Jean-Phillipe), one coming from Seattle the other from France, Nice. Not surprisingly the two met in Seattle in the 80s, may be a more fertile ground than Nice or Paris…
So here we go, a saturday afternoon of january, very cold, Manhattan almost empty. First of, very good note for the coffee shop in Church street. I don’t know if the other “La Colombe” shops are as nice but this place has definitely some good style. It is more of a large espresso bar than a coffee shop where I would spend a whole morning working but it is nice, cosy and feels good.
A selection of coffee is the first thing you see, and I obviously bought some. It is mostly blends but there were also a few single origins. The one I bought was “Nizza” made with beans from Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia and Honduras. Supposed to be a Medium roast, but looked already a bit on the dark side, I tried it today on my french press. Good coffee but not a lot of personnality, the girl at the counter told me it was good for french press, however on the pack it is indicated for Espresso or Stove top, so may be this was a mistake…? may be why I was not that impressed with my coffee this morning. Good balance but no strong flavor.
Also to be noted: La Colombe write a “Best before” on their bags and not a date of roast. This is slightly disturbing to me…
Of course, more than buying coffee I wanted to try an espresso. Very good service, beautiful ceramics but so big for an espresso! I asked for a double shot and the way they poor espresso is quite long as you can see… far from pooring ristretto as default shots there! But very light and balanced espresso, subtle and pleasant though not my taste. I can definitely see this as a good espresso for gastromic restaurants!
Espresso are poored using 2 old Faema E61, very nice machines, but I realized I have never been impressed by coffee made with those… is there a relation?
Talking about Style, way nicer than the Faema, there is in the shop a beautiful La Pavoni, displayed as a piece of art, a machine that won a design contest in 1956. I hope you’ll like the pictures, I found it beautiful! Only italians can end up with such a design!
Summary: nice end-of-afternoon coffee but definitely not outstanding, I might go back if I am around, the place is really pleasant and service is good but I have not yet been conquered by the coffee side of La Colombe, not enough to buy my beans from them or to go there especially if I am further than three or four blocks.
- La Colombe
319 Church Street
New York City