Bean Review: La Colombe Coffee's Corsica Blend
I not only have the great fortune of working with one of the Valley's premier dentists at my day job at Associated Dental, (the incredible Dr. Candace Gershkovich "Dr. G"), but I also have the terrific fortune of being the benefactor of her astute coffee sourcing from time to time. Dr. G loves coffee, probably as much as I do, and regularly brings me incredible roasts to review for the blog. This past month, she dispatched her husband, Phil (also wonderful), to bring back La Colombe Coffee's Corsica roast on his recent trip to Philadelphia.
La Colombe Coffee holds a special place in her heart, having fueled many a study session during her days as a dental student while at the University of Pennsylvania. In those days she would trek to one of Philadelphia's original town squares and stand in an incredibly long line to grab a coffee from La Colombe's Rittenhouse Square location. As she describes it, when you approach the counter, "you had to know what you wanted. They weren't there to hold your hand." Her husband, Phil, agrees. "La Colombe at Rittenhouse was small, fast paced, and extremely busy. It would be impossible to get a seat. The line was very strict and you had to know how to order and what to," he described.
La Colombe's Rittenhouse Square cafe was the coffee company's very first location back in 1994. They have since expanded to five locations in Philadelphia and are moving into new markets. In 2015, founders Todd Carmichael and JP Iberti joined forces with Chobani Yogurt CEO, Hamdi Ukukeya, to strategize a long term vision for the company. This joint venture, and the recent infusion of additional capital, promises to bring La Colombe to most major markets in the US in the coming years (and hopefully at least one location here in Phoenix, if we dare plead!).
La Colombe was an early pioneer of ethical trading practices and has sourced its coffee through mutually beneficial direct trade relationships with farmers from the beginning. Founder Todd Carmichael has been to many of those coffee growing regions first hand. Carmichael is a true adventurer and even holds the record for the fastest solo trek across Antarctica. He has traveled the globe to visit coffee farms in person and has built long term relationships with the farmers. La Colombe is mindful of its environmental impact and also seeks to better the communities it encounters. In the US, the company donates its coffee to homeless shelters near their cafe locations. The company also established The Haiti Coffee Academy to help revitalize the coffee industry in Haiti. There, they run a model coffee farm that teaches effective farming practices and equips farmers with a tool lending program. They also supply the community with a safe water source.
As for the coffee quality itself, Carmichael and Iberti founded their operation on the premise that, "America deserves better coffee," and has taken great measures to not only source it with care but roast it in a way that borrows on ancient and modern traditions, making their coffee an unparalleled experience in a cup. I was given La Colombe's darker roasted Corsica blend to sample, which is one of Dr. G's personal favorites. The coffee, which has notes of baker's chocolate, red wine, and spices is crafted with specialty grade beans from Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, and Mexico. The blend is vibrant, optimistic, and full of luscious chocolatey flavors. It is smooth, balanced, and brews a beautiful cup each time, and is a great coffee for those of us with unsophisticated home brewing equipment (in my case this was brewed in my rudimentary, but ever reliable, French press). I cannot recommend it highly enough and cannot thank the Gershkovich's enough for the legwork it took to bring this back to the blog. For those not as fortunate to have such a benefactor of beans, this lovely blend is available for purchase on the company's website for $13 for a 12 oz carefully vacuum sealed bag (packaged quite handsomely in a blue box with the company's story and information about the coffee
printed on the backside). https://www.lacolombe.com/