This Specialty Coffee Company Has Been Democratizing Coffee for Decades, Empowering Global Sources to Bring Their Beans to Market While Amplifying the Voices of Marginalized Communities at Home.
What brings people together like coffee? That’s exactly how La Colombe’s two-man roasting business got its start, the partners (in business and in life) meeting over coffee in France. Since opening its first café and warehouse in Philadelphia in 1994, this specialty coffee company now owns and operates 30 cafés across the country and supplies cafés, hotels, restaurants, and retailers around the world. La Colombe has proven itself to be a pioneer throughout its 30 years in the industry, sourcing beans from unexpected places and inventing the world’s first-ever textured cold latte. A growing household name with modest roots, La Colombe has stuck to its heartfelt mission of making the world better through coffee, never compromising on ethical sourcing practices, and always standing up for causes that deeply resonate with the company’s founders.
America Deserves Better Coffee in a Can
It was around 2009 when La Colombe founders Todd Carmichael and JP Iberti began noticing a new trend in their industry. More and more customers were coming into their cafés ordering iced lattes, cold espressos, and cold latte cappuccino drinks. But, despite growing demand, the process of going from regular brewed coffee to iced was clunky and time-consuming. It was especially difficult to retain the rich coffee flavor and foamy texture in the iced format.
An adventurer at heart, Todd made it his mission – and passion – to put a delicious pre-packaged cold latte into the hands of coffee lovers that did not compromise in quality or texture. Defying skeptics in the packaging industry, Carmichael finally achieved the impossible in 2017, creating the world’s first Ready To Drink, foamy iced coffee latte in a can using a proprietary innovation now patented as InnoValve®.
La Colombe’s Draft Latte uses quality ingredients like real whole milk (it’s also available in vegan oat and coconut milk), and comes in natural seasonal flavors (their Peppermint Mocha is a must-try for the holidays).
The drink has since taken Whole Foods, Walmart, Target, and other grocery giants by storm. And it’s this move – to put delicious, ethical coffee in the hands of more American consumers – that is at the heart of La Colombe’s pioneering vision to liberate the café menu and democratize coffee in the process.
Lending Their Platform for Change
Carmichael attributes much of La Colombe’s success to its Philly roots. He explains that it was Philadelphia’s gritty authenticity that not only gave the fledgling brand fertile soil to flourish, but an ethos of transparency that shaped the company’s philosophy. A philosophy that informs how they do business and underpins their unwavering commitment to make a difference in their surrounding communities.
Alongside its overwhelming success, La Colombe has become a force for change, raising awareness and funds for a diverse list of charitable causes that the owners seemed to have hand-picked themselves.
Take, for example, the company’s long-standing partnership with No Kid Hungry, through which La Colombe donates $2 per box of its signature Medium Roast, Lyon. Carmichael, who grew up in poverty himself, describes the urgent importance of providing kids with meals, noting that hunger can take a significant mental and emotional toll on a child’s development.
From local events and initiatives such as its Hope and Fury Concert Series in Philadelphia, which showcased local performers and musicians along with keynotes and discussions on prevalent social issues such as racial inequality and mass incarceration, to ethical long-term trade practices with coffee bean growers around the world, La Colombe continues to lend its platform to amplify marginalized voices and empower communities at every touchpoint.
While there is no magic formula for creating positive change, La Colombe proves it is listening, and adapting, both with its innovations in coffee roasting and its initiatives that give back.
As Featured In
Bon appetit praised La Colombe’s canned draft latte design as “genius” – the first foamed latte beverage on the go.
Where to Find
La Colombe has café locations in major cities nationwide. It’s speciality coffee and cold drinks can be found at major Retail Partners such as Target, Walmart, Walgreens and others. Click here to find a cafe near you.