Coffee Connection

Reasons to pay attention to a local coffee newcomer

Philadelphia-based La Colombe opened its first Chicago café last week, an airy, tile- and wood-lined West Loop shop with painted Italian ceramic mugs, Alliance Bakery pastries, Kilgus milk and a shiny red roaster in the main room.

But followers of the nearly 20-year-old roasting company know that La Colombe has been supplying The Bristol, Old Town Social, Alinea and others with coffee since the company's beans debuted in Chicago last year.

And the café's roaster isn't only for show. The goal, says manager Cory Polkow, is to bring chefs to the shop to roast, thereby connecting them–metaphorically, at least–with the farmers growing the company's beans.

La Colombe is currently the only American company that imports beans from Haiti. Find the Haitian Blue Forest beans at the shop, along with eight other blends for sale, including a 100 percent organic Mexican-Brazilian-Ethiopian blend.

The company's next goal is to bring Sudanese coffee to the U.S. for the first time. And, locally, to work with Next to create a Thai coffee for the restaurant's upcoming Thai menu, which launches July 8. The current plan: La Colombe Thai-grown coffee, soy beans and corn, brewed together to create the traditional Thai drink oliang.

La Colombe, 955 W. Randolph St.; 312-733-0707 or lacolombe.com