West Village Coffee Review at a Glance:
6 words or less: Crowd Pleaser,Roasting the Spectrum
Location: 75 Vandam Street (West Village/ Just north of Tribeca)
Hours: Weekdays 7am-6:30pm Weekdays/ 8:30am-6:30pm Weekends
Open Since: (This location) Spring 2016–(Original in Philadelphia-1994)
Amenities: bathroom, no wifi, few outlets, seating for 30 (tables, window seats, wrap around bar) special coffee events in the coffee lab in the back
Must Try: Draft Latte or the Workshop Roast
Roaster: They roast their own in Philadelphia
Owner: Todd Carmichael and JP Iberti
Moving from Second to Third Wave Coffee
La Colombe started in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square in 1994 when the East Coast was firmly set in second wave coffee. The second wave coffee movement is a response to stale coffee cans found in our home cabinets and our workplace break rooms. (More here about all three waves.) Made famous by Starbucks, the second wave coffee movement convinced Americans that coffee is something you might buy not from grocery stores, but from a speciality shop. The movement aimed to shift coffee from necessity to luxury, a treat that you gather around with friends, the way that we might gather around a fire or a bottle of wine. These shops were in a more European tradition, which means darker roasts. For many of Starbucks customers, this new wave of coffee also meant milk and sugar and flavors and drinks that our Italian immigrants would have furrowed their brow at in confusion.
La Colombe’s History Informs Its Present
La Colombe began with five roasts in the midst of this coffee revolution. Unlike many shops in town–which will serve you lighter roasts and specialize in pour-overs and single origins– La Colombe excells at fresh roasts with the sweetness of perfectly steamed milk–sugar not really needed since nobody roasts (er, burns) as dark as Starbucks. Recently, they’ve started selling a draft latte–nonalcoholic, but cold and refreshing just as you’d expect from a smooth iced latte.
Alex Orf, head trainer, invited me back into their coffee lab and introduced me and a few others on the TriBeCa coffee tour to their workshop coffees– their foray into the lighter, single-origin roasts which mark the third wave movement. He served us an Ethiopian Ardi coffee which was bright with a forward blueberry note–delicious!
La Colombe successfully straddles the second and third wave coffee movements in their beautiful shop on Vandam Street. While they are without wifi and have few outlets, the tables are plenty, the baristas are friendly and the entire place feels just like what the second wave wanted: a community spot, a place to meet friends.
Don’t come here to do work. This isn’t your break room and it isn’t your break room coffee. It is your break. Try something creamy and unplug from the hustle.
This shop is a part of our TriBeCa Neighborhood Guide.