Regular travellers know that, with a few exceptions, airport coffee varies on a scale from mediocre to awful. While the likes of British Airways and Union Hand-roasted have made great strides forward, this is only of use to travellers who have lounge access. Meanwhile, it is left to individual airports/coffee shops to take the initiative, a great example being the branch of Cartel Coffee Lab at Phoenix Sky Harbor.
Into this mix comes Philadelphia-based roaster/coffee shop chain, La Colombe. I passed through Philadelphia Airport on my may from Manchester to Manchester (I couldn’t help myself) and was delighted to find multiple branches of La Colombe, at Terminals A, B, C and E. Each one serves a pair of blends, plus a decaf, on batch-brew and another blend plus decaf on espresso. Even though I had lounge access, I had to stop off and grab some proper coffee…
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
I managed to visit two of the four La Colombe locations, although I only bought coffee from the one in Terminal B, which I’d been told about by my friend Amanda, who’d flown through Philadelphia a few weeks earlier. You have to go a little way into the terminal, where you’ll find a grab-and-go food operation to the left, which incorporates a La Colombe counter.
The counter, an L-shaped affair at the back, is fairly easy to spot. You enter on the right, filing towards the front of the counter, past the menus, cakes and various other pre-prepared food. You order and collect your coffee at the front although, since it’s part of the larger operation, you don’t pay here. Instead, the barista gives you a ticket and you pay at one of several self-service tills, simply scanning the code at the bottom. Just be aware that there’s no seating at this location.
In contrast, the Terminal C location is at the top of the concourse, so I spotted it while walking past on my way to Terminal F to catch my onward flight. Sadly, this meant that I only had time for a quick look around. In contrast to Terminal B, it’s more like a traditional coffee shop, a standalone operation with a near-island counter wrapped around a large column in the middle of the concourse.
It has its own seating at the front, two long, six-seat communal tables with power outlets extending from the counter, while there are a couple of smaller, round four-person tables, one to either side, all the seating provided by low stools. You enter at the back, once again filing past the menus, cakes and various other pre-prepared food before coming along the right-hand side where you order and collect your coffee. I also believe that you pay at this point, although I didn’t actually buy anything here.
Both locations have the same offering, a slightly cut-down version of a typical La Colombe coffee shop. There is a choice of two blends (Corsica, a dark roast, and Fishtown, a medium) on batch-brew, along with a dark-roast decaf, the Monte Carlo. Meanwhile on espresso, there’s the classic Nizza medium-roast blend and same decaf. Finally, draft latte and cold brew are available on-tap. What’s missing, perhaps not surprisingly, are the single-origin espresso and pour-over options.
The coffee is unashamedly aimed at the mass market, with a small weighing in at a whopping 12oz! However, the staff were happy to make me a 6oz cappuccino in my HuskeeCup (it’s disposable cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own). The end result was pretty good, the milk and coffee in harmony to produce a smooth, drinkable cappuccino. In contrast, I did try the coffee in the lounge and suffice it to say, I made the right call going to La Colombe!
|PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT • 8000 ESSINGTON AVENUE • PHILADELPHIA • PA 19153 • USA|
|Monday||04:00 – 22:00||Roaster||La Colombe (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||04:00 – 22:00||Seating||N/A (B) and Tables (C)|
|Wednesday||04:00 – 22:00||Food||Breakfast, Sandwiches, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||04:00 – 22:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||04:00 – 22:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||04:00 – 22:00||Wifi||Free|
|Sunday||04:00 – 22:00||Power||Yes (C)|
|Chain||National||Visits||19th February 2019|
Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to Philadelphia for more great Coffee Spots.
You can also see what I made of all the other branches of La Colombe that I’ve visited.
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