I saw more La Columbe coffee sourced to shops than any other bean while I was in the city. So, naturally, I had to check them out and see what the shop proper had to offer. This East Coast, NY local roasting company has shops all over the city that are putting out great drinks.
The particular store I visited was gorgeously decorated and designed to service the busy NY coffee scene with speed and efficiency. The building itself was very well designed with an “older,” semi Victorian motif. While the space as a whole was quiet impressive, they also paid great attention to detail; from my intricately painted cup to the self serve water faucet to the custom designed “cold coffee” vending machine, La Columbe has taken great care in their aesthetic appeal.
While La Columbe is less intimate than other shops, the standing bars around the store and machine are really wonderful. You can easily watch out the window, chat with the barista, or visit with a friend in this European inspired setting. Though one could hang out and spend a good deal of time taking in the sites, the pace and volume might make that difficult. I believe this method of service meshed quiet well with their image as a fast-paced, high volume, busy “NY minute” establishment. Thus, the Euro design also lends to the atmosphere and trajectory of the shop’s character.
The bar itself is quiet impressive, open, and streamlined. Two baristas work on two separate La Marzocco Ebs and can serve their drinks 360* around the counter. The “process” is easy to watch and showcased at the center of the store. Again, I really appreciated this aspect of the design as it brought back some of the intimacy of coffee without detracting from efficiency.
The drink itself was solid. Larger than average, it was very foamy, a little too hot, and the presentation left a little to be desired. However, it was pleasant and heavy with “darker” espresso which was a nice change of pace from West Coast/CA bright. The flavor in general was typical but well executed.
Given “NY service culture,” I guess I got what I expected; semi-cold, give-you-your-drink-and-go baristas who did seem a bit too “production staff” for me. In the context of New York, this seems rather typical. Personal biased presented, presentation and “charm” are part of the coffee experience to some degree. If it wasn’t, we would all stay at home.
This hip, efficient shop does a solid job and represents their roasting business well. For a roastery that is so pervasive in the North East, I did expect a little more. But, citing my own criticism, it is a great shop in the scheme of things, and a good shop compared to other high-end establishments.
- The design
- The bars
- Double EB action
La Columbe270 Lafayette St (between Prince St & Houston St) SoHo
New York, NY 10012