La Colombe Founder on Coffee, Fishtown & Ramen

By Danya Henninger  |  February 27, 2014

When we toured the La Colombe roasting and production facility earlier this week, we had the opportunity to sit down for a chat with co-founder JP Iberti. A native of France, Iberti has called Philadelphia home for over two decades. He’s full of stories and ideas and is an all-around engaging guy. Here are some excerpts from our conversation that we think you’ll find interesting.

• The Fishtown cafe that is planned for Frankford Avenue will likely open in June. In addition to the cafe, bar, distillery and bakery, the space will house a center for cupping and tastings as well as nice offices. “People always want to come visit, but right now we’re cramped in this warehouse in Port Richmond. We’ll finally have a place to bring visitors that we are proud to show off,” Iberti says.

• In May, the original Rittenhouse La Colombe will mark 20 years in business. After the celebrations, there will probably be a small renovation to try to bring the cafe up to modern standards. “When we opened there, I remember looking at the counter and thinking, ‘Wow, this is huge!’” Iberti laughs. “Now, it seems tiny and crowded. I know people will be up in arms if we try to change anything - regulars really feel like it’s *their* cafe, and we love that. But a little bit of modernizing is needed.”

• More La Colombe locations are coming. Iberti would like to open a cafe every couple of years in Philadelphia and then possibly move up and down the East Coast. Boston, Baltimore and Asheville, NC, are all areas he’s open to. Also Detroit, which he predicts will rise again as a buzzing urban center before too long.

• Proximity and ease of travel will dictate where those future cafes pop up, because Iberti is hands on and visits each location often. He’ll even fly out in the morning to Chicago, where there are two La Colombes, and be back in time for supper.

• Iberti is a ramen fiend, but he hasn’t yet dipped into the newly blossoming Philly ramen scene. His plan is to try Cheu Noodle Bar soon, since that’s the place he’s heard about the most. We also directed him to Hiro Ramen. Have other recommendations? Tweet us and we’ll pass them on.