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La Colombe sidelines its rum distilling business

Philadelphia coffee giant La Colombe acknowledged that it has “sidelined” its rum-distilling business, which launched four years ago as a showpiece within its Fishtown flagship location.

The gleaming copper still and wooden rum barrels remain behind glass windows, though the room is used now for meetings. A spokeswoman said remaining stock was being used for “gifting and special occasions.”

Draft latte — both on tap and in cans — has become La Colombe’s focus, the representative said.

“Innovation here at La Colombe is key to everything we do,” co-founder Todd Carmichael told me. “Once in a while, if you’re lucky, you can tap into something truly huge. Massive. And we did that with the draft latte, which means that sadly the rum project will have to be sidelined. And while we will continue to tinker with spirits, the draft is a big part of our future and our focus.”

Rum initially was Carmichael’s side project. He set up a small still at the roasting plant in Port Richmond and gave the rum as gifts.

The rum, labeled as Different Drum, won critical praise.

Inquirer critic Craig LaBan pointed out that “unlike most coffee liqueurs, which are syrupy-sweet blends, this one gets a high-tech infusion — “cavitation” — in which pressurized inert gas disrupts the coffee-bean cells, releasing the flavors of Panama Geisha and Indian Monsoon Malabar beans. The result is dry but smooth and haunting, with notes of citrusy jasmine and toasty vanilla, plus an amber hue despite not much barrel time at all. It’s even better with flan.”

By Michael Klein, The Philadelphia Inquirer


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