La Colombe

Overall Rating: 8.250

Address: 995 Randolph St.
Cross Street(s): Morgan St.
City, State ZIP: Chicago, IL 60607
Neighborhood: West Loop
Phone: 1.312.733.0707
Hours: M-F 7am-7pm; Sa-Su 8am-7pm
Type of Establishment: Espresso Bar (Chain)
Cafe Rating: 8.20
Barista: 9
Savvy: 9
Ambiance: 7
Presentation: 8
Consistency: Consistent
Espresso Machine: La Marzocco
Coffee Rating: 8.30
Aroma: 8
Body: 8
Brightness: 8
Crema: 8
Flavor: 9
Taster's Correction: 0.5
Size: M
Primary Taste: Pungent
Coffee Beans: La Colombe Torrefaction
Cup Manufacturer: ACF
Price: $2.25
Last Update: 04/29/2014
First Reviewed: 05/06/2013
Notes: Coffee Sales; Coffee Accessory Sales; Outdoor Seating

Opening back in the Summer of 2011, this outlet of the Philadelphia-based roaster and café chain started in the transforming neighborhood of the West Loop on Randolph St. As the old neighborhood of butchers and meat delivery trucks has given way to fine foods and -- shockingly -- al fresco dining along the sidewalks, La Colombe is part of a new breed of shop that has moved in. (They soon plan to open a second Chicago location in Bucktown.) It's an open space with wood floors, wide windows that open in front, a large wooden bench and a few café tables for seating. It's a rather spacious place, with roasting operations taking place in the back with a sparkling, classic Officine Vittoria roaster from Bologna, Italy. But that's not the only device obsessed over here. They have a red, three-group La Marzocco FB/70 for espresso and replaced one of their grinders (for a second espresso option besides their Nizza blend) with a four-barrel Steampunk siphon brewer. La Colombe co-founder (and TV personality), Todd Carmichael, is a tough customer to impress with the latest coffee gadgetry, but he swears by the Steampunk. We found that the Steampunk produces a clean cup, requires its own staffing plan, generates a little grit at the bottom of the cup, but doesn't really change filter coffee for us. (But that's just us.) As for their Nizza espresso, they pull shots with an even layer of medium brown crema and a decent body. There's an exceptional balance to the cup, with a flavor of spices, mellow pungency, and orange zest. That's the thing so few North American roasters don't get: the art and complexity of a well thought out, balanced blend. Milk-frothing can be a weak spot here: ok but limited microfoam and more milky, and occasionally with odd turtle-patterned latte art.