When I found out there was a La Colombe Cafe in Chicago, I was so excited to go!
La Colombe is not a restaurant, it is a cafe…i.e. a coffee house. So don’t expect to find food being served there, just coffee. And I’ve got more on that below but I just wanted to make a quick note about that, so now you’ve been forewarned. :)
Now, let me preface this visit with a little backstory.
Dangerous Grounds > La Colombe
If you don’t know La Colombe, I’m not surprised. We only found out about the company once I dug a little deeper after watching The Travel Channel show Dangerous Grounds.
Even though I’m not a huge coffee drinker, as Jeff has been learning and practicing more and more methods of preparing coffee, it has been growing on me. :) He & I both find it interesting to learn about where the beans come from, who is growing them and how they’re being grown. Plus, I’m always up for a good travel show. We absolutely love everything about Dangerous Grounds!
The host of the show, and main risk-taker, is Todd Carmichael. Dangerous Grounds follows Todd (and his videographer, Hollywood) around the world in search of the best coffee beans. Todd has lots of coffee knowledge and travel knowledge way beyond his years about so many different locations in the world. Watching each episode it feels exactly like we’re there with him as he goes from tribe to tribe and location to location searching for the best beans to bring back to The States.
After one episode of Dangerous Grounds I decided to look up more information on Todd. I found that he is CEO and Co-Founder of La Colombe Torrefaction so I dug a little deeper to see if there were any locations in Chicago. And there are!
The location on Randolph that Jeff & I visited has been open for 3 years and they just recently opened another location in Wicker Park. Although Chicago is not the only place you can find La Colombe. They also have cafes in New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Seoul Korea.
The first chance we got to go to La Colombe, we took! That happened to be the same day we went to Au Cheval. La Colombe was a great place for us to walk to, relax and wait for our table to become available for dinner.
A Serene Atmosphere
When you walk into La Colombe on Randolph, you walk into a very cool atmosphere. It’s airy, light and relaxing. This is how a coffee shop should be.
The focus is on the coffee, the company and the company you’re with. There is no wifi available so the typical distraction of the hustle & bustle of stressed out people working doesn’t exist here. At La Colombe, it’s all about the coffee and your experience in the moment.
The first thing you’ll notice is that there is no menu.
I was taken back by this when I first walked in so it was the first question I asked Antonio, our Barista, when it was our turn to order.
Antonio said having no menu makes it easier to engage in conversation with your barista and in turn helps them get to know exactly what you want to drink.
At La Colombe they roast the beans in house one to two times per week and they had just done some the morning we arrived (which was a Friday, if you’re curious).
Steampunk Meets Coffee
La Colombe was one of the first cafes to receive a prototype steampunk machine, when only 50 locations in the US were using them.
“The Alpha Dominche Steampunk MOD is a handcrafted, next-generation modular coffee brewer designed for brewing the best single-cup coffees and teas in the world. The Steampunk MOD allows the user to set specific brew parameters that ensure the most repeatable, flavorful extraction in every cup. Its advanced controls empower baristas to set brew temperature, time, volume, agitation cycles, and extraction. Using this brew method baristas can produce and explore flavor profiles similar to those produced by a range of brew processes – from French press to pour-over – while also uncovering new profiles you won’t find anywhere else.” (Source)
Unfortunately the machine was not working when we arrived so we couldn’t see it in action but it was quite unique and piqued my interest enough to want to go back and see it live, in action.
La Colombe Cold Brew
The cold brew coffee is bottled and shipped from the Philadelphia location.
When you purchase a bottle you get to pull it out of an old-school Coke machine located near the front door.
This was Jeff’s drink of choice.
I, on the other hand, went for a Cortado.
…or two :)
A Philanthropic Company
The thing about La Colombe is that they’re not just another coffee company. Todd, Antonio and all those working at all the La Colombe locations around the world are giving back and working for a common good, and I’m not talking the best cup of coffee for your morning fix. There are many philanthropic ways La Colombe is contributing and providing safe drinking water is only one.
La Colombe has two locations in Chicago for you to choose from. We went to the one in the West Loop and the other is located in Wicker Park at 1552 N. Damen Ave. Chicago, IL 60622. If you’re near one of these locations I’d recommend you stop by.
Paleo Friendly Restaurant: La Colombe Coffee (Chicago)
Restaurant: La Colombe
Location: 955 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607
Restaurant Rating: 4 out of 5
Paleo Rating: 4 out of 5
Paleo Restaurant Rating Scale
Restaurant Rating: How good is it? On a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best I’ve ever had), how good is the restaurant, no matter if it’s paleo or not.
Paleo Rating: On a scale of 1-5 (5 being paleo perfection), how paleo is it? A 5 will have grass-fed and pasture raised meats, local, organic produce and no peanut oil in sight.