“Unassuming” is the word that comes to mind as I’m standing across the street from a small brick storefront, faded paint spelling “La Colombe” curling above the glass door. Weeks of anticipation and months of drooling over pictures of exquisitely poured lattes and warm croissants on delicate china plates suddenly seem too good to be real, and I brace myself for disappointment.
There’s a break in the traffic and I rush across the street with my brother and friends on my heels, in through double glass doors and into a space beyond my anticipation. Part coffee shop, bakery and (coffee infused!) rum distillery, La Colombe’s flagship location in Philadelphia’s old German neighborhood stretches back farther than I can see at first.
To my left, a line wraps around a table and shelves filled with fresh-roasted beans, branded clothing and the best grinders and brewing methods available. Immediately in front of me is a long counter with cases stuffed with fresh bread, baked goods and lemon macrons. Chalkboards list breakfast or brunch options and alcoholic beverages in an elegant scroll, a pleasant contrast to the coffee shop’s sleek, industrial feel.
Neatly out of sight, the coffee and tea selection is on a small clipboard in front of the registers, and an espresso station where baristas steam, tamp and pour coffee and call out orders brings coffee back to the center of attention. The right wall is lined with tables, chairs and booths, sectioned off by half-walls and different lighting – 11am on a Sunday is a busy time, and we rush to find enough seats before getting in line.
I settle on a cappuccino and B.E.L.T for the first round. The fresh sandwich is so large I have to use a fork and knife to eat it, and the cappuccino, served in a beautiful mug with professional latte art is so good that I’m convinced La Colombe has accomplished, and perfected, its mission to serve America better coffee. An Ethiopian pour over and two of those lemon macrons round out the trip, and convince me that La Colombe is a step above all, if not most, of America’s specialty coffee giants.
1335 Frankford Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19125 | (267) 479-1600
7am – 7pm Sunday- Thursday, 7am-9pm Friday and Saturday.