Discovering Local Frontiers

Drafting It | Todd Carmichael of La Colombe

July 31, 2012 Features By Photo by GP

As the co-founder of the Philly-based coffee roaster, La Colombe, and the company’s main sourcer, Todd Carmichael spends much of his time traveling the world in search of the highest quality, ethically traded coffee available, and soon you’ll be to able to follow his adventures through his upcoming Travel Channel Show, Coffee Hunters. But running a booming coffee company that does over $25 million in business a year is just a narrow facet of Carmichael’s story.

He’s also an incredibly accomplished endurance athlete and holds the world record as the first American explorer to cross Antarctica to the South Pole alone, on foot and with no assistance — which he completed in 2008 in a total travel time of 39 days, 7 hours and 49 minutes. Besides assuring his place in the pantheon of American explorers, he also used the opportunity to raise $250,000 for Orangutan Foundation International — just one of many charities Todd is involved with.

In our brief time with Todd, we peppered him with questions on everything from the story behind La Colombe, to his thoughts on Philly, the state of endurance sports, and America’s role as a place of opportunity. What we learned is that Carpe Diem isn’t a motto for Carmichael; it’s a personal blueprint for living and one of many reasons why his list of accomplishments reads like something out of American folklore. We also discovered that achieving the extraordinary while doing good by the planet is a familiar pattern when it comes to his work.

See what he had to say by watching the video above and make sure to learn about some of Todd’s favorite spots in Philly below.

Rittenhouse Square

This is a classic Philadelphia Park that was planned in the 17th century by William Penn and now serves as a culinary center of the city. On an average early spring day, you’ll find locals playing chess, chatting, drinking coffee, or strolling past to visit one of the many excellent restaurants that surround the park.

Rittenhouse Square |

The First La Colombe Torrefaction

This is the very first La Colombe cafe location. We searched long and hard for a city that would allow us to open a cafe right on a major park and Philly obliged. We risked everything and signed a 30 year lease to make La Colombe a reality, and haven’t looked back since.

130 South 19th Street |

Four Seasons Hotel

The world-renowned hotel, known for its impeccable service and accomodations was La Colombe’s first client. It’s a special place for me, and I still visit often.

1 Logan Square |


Take a walk down broad street to visit Osteria. Owner and restauranteur Chef Mark Vetri is a great friend of mine who understands the differences between fad and movements in the culinary world. I’m not the only one who feels that way. His traditional Italian restaurant was nominated as the Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation in 2008, and it’s chef Jeff Michaud was named the Best Chef of the Mid-Atlantic region by the James Beard Foundation in 2010.

640 North Broad Street |

Drafting It Series:
Seth Rosen of CustomMade | Todd Carmichael of La Colombe | George Vlagos of Oak Street Bootmakers