La Colombe, Philadelphia Airport

Details of the drip and espresso coffee at La Colombe, Philadelphia AirportRegular 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.

  • The first of two La Colombe outlets in Philadelphia Airport. This one is at Terminal B...
  • ... at the back of a larger grab-and-go food outlet. You enter at the back on the right.
  • The menu is here (along with the cakes, etc), but you order when you get to the front.
  • The second La Colombe is at Terminal C and is much more like a regular coffee shop.
  • It's a standalone operaton with plenty of seating (plus lots of power outlets).
  • You enter at back, by the way.
  • Like the Terminal B branch, the menu is here, but you order around the corner.
  • The choices when it comes to coffee: batch-brew / espresso / draft.
  • A very poor picture of my six ounce cappuccino in my Huskee Cup.
The first of two La Colombe outlets in Philadelphia Airport. This one is at Terminal B...1 ... at the back of a larger grab-and-go food outlet. You enter at the back on the right.2 The menu is here (along with the cakes, etc), but you order when you get to the front.3 The second La Colombe is at Terminal C and is much more like a regular coffee shop.4 It's a standalone operaton with plenty of seating (plus lots of power outlets).5 You enter at back, by the way.6 Like the Terminal B branch, the menu is here, but you order around the corner.7 The choices when it comes to coffee: batch-brew / espresso / draft.8 A very poor picture of my six ounce cappuccino in my Huskee Cup.9
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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
www.lacolombe.com
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 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
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.


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